You can fake big breasts, a degree, a marriage. You can even fake a job. The one thing you cannot fake is sophistication. For that you’ve got to be born with both sets of grandparents – okay, maybe one set will do these days — who knew the word and breathed the virtue. If you weren’t genetically blessed, then you’ve got to have been born into money so they could send you off to finishing school. No? Okay, then you’ve got to have spent your entire existence reading
boring worthy books and taking mind-journeys, devouring every bit of culture in your city with an appetite that will do the a black hole proud. You have to have read Ms Manners and tended well your very dog-eared Wren & Martin (remember, the devil is in the details). Above and beyond, at the very least, you have to be bathing, brushing and generally staying clean everyday. No one wants filthy sophistry.
If you’ve done none of the above, I am afraid you are an IT guy, a Malayalee or live in Surat (leave right now you if you are all three. Not even I can help). If not, suck it up, because that is the only course of existence left to you. But if you meet part of the requirement (not the bathing bit only) and find that you have often felt the need to be smooth, a little more evolved and impressive, I urge you to find a way to do the rest of the above list.
Time not allowing any of it, however, I suggest you read what I have to say and etch it into the skin of your inner leg or laser-stamp it into the appropriate area of your brain. Just so you don’t have to scramble to your phone or computer every time you need to look something up. Anyone can be a fake, but being a good fake needs some work and me.
Here are four situations I think you are likely to encounter if you are running with a tony pack and want to be with it. There are riders, naturally, but mostly, you should be able to get by on what is here without losing your really fun, shallow friends.
At a wine tasting session
- A wine tasting session that’s done as a part of a promotion of a new wine.
- Most other guests are at a tasting the first time, at the most, third time.
- A room with bad acoustics and ventilation
There are a few things you are bound to know beforehand. For example: Is it local wine or something with a huge carbon footprint. Who’s leading the tasting. What kind of a crowd is likely to be there.
Once you’ve filed this away, head to the tasting in something suitably wishy-washy — think misty grey, partly diaphanous things coupled with carefully mismatched accessories, if you are a woman. If you’re a man, go with a stubble, a nicely cut linen something. (Please do this in style. I won’t be held responsible for anyone refusing you entry.) Find a table, look through all the literature you’ve been given. I can assure you’ll find all your cues right here. I must warn you, these pointers are the bare minimum.
Wine: Ideally, the Wine Guy will take you through at least three wines, a smattering of cheeses and if you’re lucky he’ll throw some prunes at you when you fall asleep. All you need to do is pick up on the words in the literature.
Does it say the sauvignon blanc is fruity and new? Then be sure to swirl the glass, take a deep whiff, look a little doubtful and then say, “You know, I think I can taste a hint of green apple in this.” Throw in a few other words like “crisp”, “young” and “reminds me of a rain-drenched morning in the hills” and you’ll almost always get away with it, trust me. It helps greatly if you don’t take really large swigs of the stuff and start hitting on the Wine Guy.
For the reds, look for legs after you swirl the glass. Here’s how:
1) Swirl holding stem and without spilling any on friend/date/ table cloth.
2) Hold it up to the light, gently mar that high brow with a frown and look like you’ve seen light. Or legs.
At least pretend. This works for both wines but I am just telling you different ways to fake things. The more the number of legs, the better the wine (the jury is still out on this, more or less – some say it’s just physics, others say definite quality). This should let you faff about how the wine feels on your tongue. Legs? Oh yeah, it’s those little streaks left on the glass after you swirl it.
Pairing: If the Wine Guy’s going to get all friendly and gently encourage you to suggest a cheese, remember just one rule for the whites. No, two actually. The first — say goat cheese; it goes with almost ANY white wine. If you want to sound a little less earthy, say Gruyere. That too is strongly enough flavoured to merit a pairing with most whites. And if you can say Indian curry with a red wine, the Wine Guy is going to go on bended knee with a ring and a proposal, no matter if you are man or woman.
Prunes and other dried things: You can pop as many prunes and olives you like. No one’s counting or watching.
Remember: An acidic fruit (no citrus) is your key to impressing whoever you are doing this for. (Yeah, I know. As if you’d read a lesson on faking it, if you were studying to be a sommelier.) Just don’t say jackfruit. If for no other reason but that the Wine Guy probably feels better about himself when you sound bat-shit crazy.You can stick with the “reds go with red meat” bit but it’s so retro. Say something completely unexpected for a red wine pairing; you’ll have them eating out of your hands for the rest of the evening.
Don’t fake it
- At a session where the guests are sommeliers.
- At a whisky tasting session
Next: How to pretend you really got that play your arty girlfriend dragged you to.