My machismo: Lives by the tumbler, Dies by the stem
by James Cooper

I present to you a scenario in which my male psyche faced total annihilation thanks to my unfortunate pinkie posturing when holding a glass of wine at a bar. (Note to reader: some or all of the details in this story may have been altered or altogether fabricated).

The Scene

There I was, leaning against the bar à la James Dean, as this smouldering, velvety brunette came into view. As she walked toward me, her curves and rich mahogany locks swayed gently to and fro in unison with the deep purple contents of her wine glass. She flashed her brilliant, bleached teeth (not one was missing) while moving through the crowd, which parted for her in a way that would have given
Moses an inferiority complex about his work on the Red Sea. My heart skipped a beat. I was spell-bound. My palms were getting sweaty and mouth dry.

So I took a quick sip from my glass of Amarone – which was smooth and captivating yet not enough to distract me from this real-life wonder woman – as I peered at her over the brim as if looking through binoculars (you know you’ve done it and actually believed it hid how you were scoping someone out). As I lowered my glass, she was now within striking distance. My adrenaline was surging. I felt as though my heart was about to burst out of my chest, like pulp squirting from a grape squeezed between two fingers. No more than two paces from me, she glanced at my left hand and, unexpectedly, veered away, nose in the air as she darted for her fox den (the ladies’ room). And
so, before it had a chance to really begin, the chase was over. I was bewildered.

Paranoia and Epiphany

What was it that spooked this sultry urban goddess? There wasn’t a ring on my finger (not married, never have been). Was it dirt or grime under my fingernails? Nope, double-checked and there were no outward signs of poor hygiene. Were my knuckles too hairy? Well, they wouldn’t scare a baby, so not too bad. And there I stood, gazing into my wine, pondering the situation, when it suddenly dawned on me: holding my wine glass by the stem – as wine doctrine dictates – was inadvertently causing my pinkie to jut into the air, erect as the tail of a German pointer hound alerting his master to the roost of a petrified game bird. It seems my poised pinkie makes my hand appear dainty and girlie; an image that no true manly man would be caught dead projecting while “on the prowl”.
I was now facing a potential machismo meltdown. Here is my internal dialogue as I tried to cope with the crisis:


Don’t be silly, Jimbo. There’s no way that she thought there was anything remotely feminine about how I was holding the glass. If anything, holding a wine glass by the stem exudes manliness. She probably just really had to go to the washroom at the last second. I bet she’ll be back any minute now. Heck, even if she doesn’t come back, no big loss; she wasn’t really that hot. I have never felt more confident in my life.


Where the hell is that snooty princess? Who does she think she is, questioning how I hold my wine glass? I don’t know who she is, but I do know
what she is: butt ugly! And dumb too: she obviously doesn’t know that you’re supposed to hold a wine glass by the stem. Wow! She has serious issues. I hope she’s in there throwing up after realizing how foolish she was to pass me up. Good riddance! Oh yeah, and the bartender looks like a jerk. I hate holding wine glasses. Glass is dangerous and should be banned. Why is the world conspiring against me?


I miss her. I think she was the one. My wine glass is empty. I’m all alone. Somebody hold me.

OK, so I have a problem: my pointed pinkie posture. And my
other problem: my fragile male ego. Which one’s easier to deal with? That would be the pinkie. What are my options? Well, I can’t cut it off since I kinda need it. Can I embrace it? Realistically, without a lot of therapy to break down my primordial bravado, that’s not going to work either. How about wearing mittens to cover it up? That’s probably more of a vibe killer than the pinkie itself. What if I just snap the stems off of wine glasses? Impractical when I want to set the glasses down. Could I just stop drinking wine? Not an option.

Enter the Tumbler
So, having come to terms with the pinkie-based rejection I endured, the only logical solution to my predicament I could come up with was to start drinking out of stemless wine glasses (or wine tumblers if you prefer) when available. Please don’t take me as some sort of mental giant with this line of thinking though. Wine tumblers, such as those in the “O” series from Austrian glass producer Riedel, have been gaining favour in recent years, especially in trendy restaurants and wine bars. But I would like to see faster and broader adoption of tumblers in all bars, pubs and clubs to make it easier for me to avoid future embarrassment with my pinkie (I suppose I could also just hold stemmed glasses by the bowl or base instead of by the stem, but that would be too easy. Better to get the world to conform to my needs).
So, guys and gals (that includes you, you rich mahogany brunette), make sure to start demanding your wine in tumblers when you’re at the bar. You’ll be doing me a huge favour.

Cooper out!

During a recent visit to Wayne Gretzky’s new winery in Niagara, I was quite happy to find wine tumblers etched with the iconic number 99. The Great One’s entry into the wine game is a clear sign of the beverage’s impending rise as an everyman’s (or at least, every Canadian man’s) drink. That’s something I’m glad to see happen, especially if it means greater proliferation of tumblers in bars.

About James
James is a communications officer at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (grape and wine research centre) at Brock University in the Niagara wine region. A graduate of the Oenology and Viticulture program at Brock, and the Science Communication program at Laurentian U, he is keen to work with iYellow in whatever ways he can. James has made some wine here and there over the years, and found that drinking it is less lucrative but more relaxing. Recently, he’s become a real pickle aficionado and hopes to one day see the fermented cucumber achieve the culinary recognition it deserves as a main course – not just a side or a garnish.

* Riedel "O" Glasses are available in many wine accessories stores, and are also available at the Best wine store in the GTA, Vineyards Estate Wines Store down on Queen's Quay by the Harbourfront Centre.