March 21, 2019

Conversations about … Why are we still shaming wine drinkers?

Have we learned NOTHING about a) how small the internet has made the world & b) how to pack our sometimes overly inflated egos away when discussing wine with others?

Recently, I saw a post from a wine influencer who took offence to a customer to their wine store knocking back their offer of assistance. I usually enjoy the posts they put up but …. not this one. The post ran along the lines of, ‘I (the poster) offered assistance and the customer replied that they were ok. That they did not want assistance and had recently passed their WSET Level 3’.

The poster expressed more than a hint of distain that the customer did not want their assistance. And asked the question ‘Do you like suggestions from wine store staff or not’? 

I quickly wrote a comment in support of this customer and how I would be happy to hear as an educator that they now felt they had the confidence to continue their wine journey in their own way.

But alas, I was one comment amongst 150+ that was defending this customer’s right and acknowledging their passion for actually going out there and getting a qualification. Some people diplomatically just answered the question ‘do you like suggestions?’.  Many wine professionals that I know of this social media platform (and some I have met personally) agreed with the poster’s attitude and even pointed out ways to put customers like this in their place. 

I am horrified by some of the comments and it reminded me why I stopped hanging out on twitter (the social media platform where this was posted was NOT twitter). 

For any wine professional who cannot understand that wine journeys are personal to each and every one of us, please consider this:

This was a customer who : 

  1. may be really happy with their own sense of discovery for the time being (after all, they have just done a qualification that I know does not hand out passes for people to just turn up).
  2. may be a person who finds sales pressure simply too much to bear.
  3. may be actually in the trade themselves and just not telling you. 
  4. may be in a hurry and don’t want to be caught up in sales patter. I know I have a habit of prattling to wine people so if I am in a hurry, I decline ‘assistance’ too.

AND …. 

5.  may be a follower of this poster’s social media account. In which case, the customer has just been SHAMED for wanting to look at the wine shelves quietly by themselves. After all the internet of all things wine is getting larger yet, at the same time, smaller!! 

Not everyone wants to somebody else’s recommendation for buying a bottle of wine right at that moment, or wants to know a wine that you have just tasted that you are excited about, or wants to know what is the latest exciting delivery the store has received. And please know, that that is OK!!! 

I can only hope that this usually very positive poster was having a bad day and realises that a professional boundary was crossed. Sure, joke about it at home with friends, but leave those comments there. 

I have said before, and I will continue to say again.  Wine professionals, whether an ‘influencer’ or not, who believe that they can or should shame anyone for their wine choices or for not asking or taking their recommendations – pack your ego away!  


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  1. Di Challenor

    Thank you for writing this! I know next to nothing about wine, but I’m keen to learn so that I can help a friend of mine who’s just starting out (she’s currently over in France working and studying the WSET – not sure which level). Following you on Instagram now purely because of your clear disdain for snobbery!

  2. Lisa Johnston

    Thank you, Di. What a caring friend you are to help your friend! And please wish her luck from me.

    While I love that social media brings people together, I despair that it also allows attitudes like this to be celebrated. Thank you for stopping by and for following me on Instagram. Never hesitate to ask anything that might wine more enjoyable for you or your friend. Cheers!! Lisa

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