The Rogue Says So: Festival Etiquette

Due to the nature of my line of work, I work my fair share of festivals. These festivals tend to be of the food and wine sort. I recently worked – what I pray is – my final festival of the year. Let me start by saying I enjoy grafting these festivals because of the interesting characters I meet along the way and because of the people who work the festivals with me. By the end of a long show – such as this weekend’s Food Wine Design Fair – the camaraderie formed among exhibitors is grand and the bottle of wine or draught of beer shared whilst telling tales of the show past is super as it is always interesting for me to hear what my fellow exhibitors experience of the masses was like. With that being said, here is some advice for those of you on the other side of the counter.

Your experience is directly influenced by your approach.

I understand that you pay a fee to enter the show and that because of this you feel like everything should be offered to you on a silver platter. Hell I would too if I paid what is often an exorbitant fee simply to arrive but I have come to notice that your attitude towards exhibitors is key to receiving the best experience possible.

As an exhibitor it is my pleasure to take you through my selection of wines. It is my goal to convince you that I have the best wines at the show so that you will spend your money and buy my wine. Not the chap next door to me. Me. My product. So I am therefore geared – and happy – to take you on a journey in order for you to do so and whilst it is important to offer my best at all stages it can become cumbersome as it is very easy for me to deduce what the intentions are of the person who stands before me with their wine glass extended asking for a taste.

Whilst it is tough – I know – it is important that you attempt to stay as sober as possible. You see the thing is, the more inebriated you become, the more ignorant you become. Even if you have a slight buzz going on, keep your shit under control. Don’t come to me and shlur your way through asking for a taste of red. You see I – as a sober person – can see straight through you. I can see that you are here to get pissed and that any potential sales are diminishing at a rate of knots the more wine I give you. I am therefore going to offer you a limited experience. Don’t get upset when I pour you a small portion of wine and don’t – for fucks sake – ask for more. If you purchase a glass of wine, don’t question my version of what a glass constitutes. This is the fastest way for me to turn cold and politely tell you to jog on. In a non-verbal way.

I am always happy to help a mate out at these festivals with a glass or two on the house. In fact I tend to push the boundaries and will let a mate drink on the house for an extended period. That’s what mates are for, right? So if you know me or if someone in your party does and I am busy giving you free booze, keep your manners about you. At least pretend like you are appreciative. No matter how fuelled you are, don’t tell me you don’t like my product. Don’t tell me that you prefer X over Y and don’t try to tell me my business. Kindly shut your mouth, enjoy the wine and if you – afterwards – still feel strongly that my wine is not for you, go find someone else to get free shit off of.

I am in the wine industry and therefor know my shit. I know what I am putting in your glass and know what you should pick up on the nose and palate. Of course I want you to have your own opinion as this is beauty of wine: Everyone’s opinion is there own and therefor never wrong. As I mentioned, I am here to start you down a path and it is up to you to find your way through it. I will plant thoughts in your mind and you can water them if you like. Don’t begin to disagree with me about the wine. Don’t tell me that it needs more structure or that the fruit isn’t prevalent enough. Don’t begin to wax lyrical about what constitutes a Rhône-style blend or why you think the particular wine in your glass is corked. It isn’t. Unless you are Neil Pendock this sort of arrogant opinion means shit to me. I don’t care if you think you are a wino. I’m gonna smile, fill your glass and get you to move on.

When the end of the evening comes around we have all had enough. You of the booze and me of you. All I want at this stage is to sip on a quiet glass of wine, talk some shit, maybe smoke a ciggie and get out of there. I don’t want to give you a full glass of wine, let alone a bottle. For free? Please mate. Don’t get upset with me. Now piss off.

Whilst the above mentioned characters can be found at every show, there are of course those who are the exact opposite and therefor a pleasure to meet. As mentioned it is because of you that I so enjoy working these shows. You keep me entertained. I certainly hope I do too.

Maybe it has just been a long year of festivals and I am a little gatvol? I have worked enough festivals to know that this opinion is not only my own. Don’t be afraid to approach exhibitors though. By all means come! I want you to have a good time. I want to chat to you. Just don’t be a dumbass. Respect me and I will respect you. That mutual respect is key to both of us enjoying our brief time together.

I’m looking forward to checking you at the next festival. Stellies Wine Fest I believe?

You stay classy.


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