Snobs Suck The Fun Out Of Drinking Wine

Roberto Viernes
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Wednesday - January 19, 2011
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Can anyone know too much about wine? On the surface it is easy to say no. But what about the wine geeks who seem to know everything about wine?

I am a self-admitted wine geek, but hopefully I don’t end up being a “killjoy” as some wine freaks can be. I don’t have time for wine snobs. I don’t like them, and I think they detract from the conviviality that wine brings to the table.

Wine snobs can come in many different forms. I’ve mentioned them before. I realize, too, that wine snobs also can come in the form of overeducated know-it-alls who can literally suck (or sip) the fun out of wine.

I became a wine geek so that I could enjoy it even more. Learning the factual and physical features of wine is essential. Getting to know the wine’s context both culturally and its place in the wine world is even more interesting. And knowing the winemaker and the wine’s source is perhaps the pinnacle of wine knowledge.

This experience should help one share the passion and soul of the wine itself with others. When one can elucidate the nuances of a wine so well as to compel others of its beauty, it can be quite profound. One also can use experience and knowledge to communicate the passion of the drinker to others, as when someone speaks passionately about their experience when visiting the vineyard or meeting the winemaker.

Wine is emotive and should induce or inspire us to share.

Yet there are many who use some or much of this knowledge to build themselves up and hold themselves as authorities over others in an elitist fashion that is at minimum off-putting and at worst turning people away from wine entirely. Are these people ignorant of what they are accomplishing? Can they be so erudite yet so unaware of their effect on other wine drinkers?

Perhaps it is hubris. Maybe it is some insecurity within them that drives them to have to prove others wrong and themselves superior. Each has his or her own reason, but I am not a psychologist.

I want to learn more about wine because I want more enjoyment from it, not to be smarter than the next wine drinker. As in anything else in life, the more we learn about wine the more we can appreciate it. The different composition of grapes, soils, exposure, climate, growing season, the grower, maker, etc. are combined into one result. Let’s not deconstruct it into just tannin, acidity, fruit or any quantifiable number or score. By doing that we only reduce the enjoyment of the wine and lose its significance as part of our culture. We even risk putting it into the category of a commodity.

What is beautiful about wine is that you need not know much about a particular wine to enjoy it. There are as many different personalities of those who drink wine as there are wines. And for those who think they know it all, I’m here to tell them “No, you don’t.” No one can, and no one will. There is no bull’s eye to aim at, no destination to get to, just a journey into and with wine.

So let everyone enjoy it, and if you have something that will add to the experience, I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, please fill your glass and mouth with wine.

Recommendations: 2009 Kuents Bas Alsace Blanc ($17) If you like light whites that are just plain delicious, this is the one for you. Zesty with a hint of tropical fruit, this is great for salads and shellfish or just as an aperitif. 2007 Vineyard 7&8 Cabernet Sauvignon “7” ($75) Attention all Napa Cabernet drinkers: You should hunt for this. This Cab packs a good punch of juicy black fruit and sweet vanilla.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. rviernes@

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier. E-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
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