Why do actors always hold their wineglasses by the bowl rather than the stem?
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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is there an (un)written Hollywood rule that, just as every shot of Paris must contain a view of the Eiffel Tower, actors must hold their wineglasses by the bowl rather than the stem?
Ed S., New Westminster, B.C., Canada
I confess I’m also puzzled by this phenomenon. As much as I love seeing more and more characters holding a glass of wine on screens both large and small, they are almost always holding the glass by the bowl and not the stem. Most wine lovers do the opposite, which is considered proper etiquette.
It’s a touchy subject. On one hand, I want everyone to enjoy more wine however they feel comfortable. But on the other hand, I feel it’s my responsibility to point out both the etiquette details and the practical aspects of holding the wine “properly”, namely not warming the glass with your hand and avoiding unsightly fingerprints.
As far as what you and I are picking up on the screen, holding the wineglass “improperly” is either an oversight or it’s done on purpose. If it’s simply an oversight, you and I should open a consulting business and go to Hollywood and teach classes and seminars. After all, why go through the trouble of establishing a character as a wine lover, only to have them look like a newbie? Sometimes I think wine is just thought of as a prop, and just like how people in real life rarely hold a gun sideways to shoot or store booze in a beveled glass decanter, these are just tropes of cinema.
There’s also a theory that this is completely intentional. Although wine is more a part of our lives, we don’t want the characters onscreen to appear too precious about it. Holding the wineglass by the bowl is a way to appear like we’re not sticking out our pinky finger when drinking a cup of tea.