How Olivia Pope Holds a Wineglass: It’s Downright… Scandalous

Woman with glass of wineThere’s a big scandal brewing over “Scandal,” the political thriller that debuted not quite three years ago on ABC-TV.

Actually, so as not to be drawn into the scandal, let me re-phrase that: There’s a big scandal FERMENTING over “Scandal,” since the scandal involves wine, and wine is fermented, not brewed.

Got that?

Anyway, the scandal revolves around how the character Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, holds a wineglass.

On the series, Pope is portrayed as something of a wine connoisseur. At the very least, she drinks a lot of wine — red wine — and she drinks it in a big glass that reportedly has helped spike wineglass sales at Crate & Barrel.

Here’s where the controversy comes in: Pope doesn’t hold the glass like a wine lover would — by the stem. Instead, she holds it by the bowl.

The horror!

This dichotomy has been pointed out by a few wine critics, including Eric Asimov. Some of those critics (Asimov included), in turn, have drawn scorn for their stances from various websites and blogs.

All of this is good for filling column inches on newspaper pages and generating clicks on websites, but let’s get to the heart of the matter: Does it really matter how one holds a wineglass?

Well, I am here to tell you definitively, in no uncertain terms, without a shadow of a doubt: sometimes.

The reason commonly cited for not holding a wineglass by its bowl is that the warmth of one’s hand can warm the glass and, by extension, the wine. But for that to happen, one would have to hold the bowl with both hands for several minutes — and even then, if the wine were served at the proper (fairly cool) temperature to begin with, it’s not going to damage the wine. Not to any perceptive degree, anyway.

Holding a wineglass by its stem basically has become a “signal” indicating wine knowledge and appreciation, much like wearing the cap of a sports team signals that one is a fan of that team.

So, are the producers of “Scandal” missing the boat by not insisting that the show’s red wine-loving character hold her wineglass “correctly”?

That’s one for the critics to debate.

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One comment on “How Olivia Pope Holds a Wineglass: It’s Downright… Scandalous
  1. […] glass by its bowl, rather than its stem. Perhaps he learned it from Olivia Pope, as we detailed in this blog. Oh, wait, Olivia is a fictional character. Anyway, at least it’s good to know that our President […]

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