We know someone who years ago, was invited to go on a balloon ride with a friend over Temecula Valley wine country. We’ll call her Joan.
The tour people served champagne to the group of six upon landing, and Joan started sharing some fun information about Champagne — number of bubbles in a glass, the fact that there is no “Champagne” grape — and her friend pulled her aside.
“What are doing?” she asked her.
“Just sharing some fun stuff about Champagne.”
After this, Joan could tell she was getting a somewhat cold shoulder from others in the group, who, before her Champagne talk, had been friendly.
We think this is a great example of how complicated the issue of “the wine snob” can be. “Snob” is generally defined as someone who thinks they are superior to others, who looks down on others. This was not Joan.
Yet, by offering information about a wine everyone was enjoying, she was perceived as a wine snob.
What is a wine snob? It depends on the person making the definition.
For some folks, a wine snob is anyone who talks about wine in ways they don’t understand. It may feel to them that this person is trying to show off. In America, fine wine was viewed for many decades as something upper class and high-brow; many people felt intimidated by it. Some of these attitudes still hang around –and so sometimes, we think, wine lovers like Joan are unfairly dubbed as snobs.
For others, a wine snob is someone who refuses to drink wines that don’t meet his or her high standards (like Miles in Sideways). This kind of snob can make the rest of us feel like shlubs who can’t tell a good wine from a lousy wine.
For us, a wine snob is a person who feels they are vastly superior to others because of their wine knowledge. They use that knowledge to impress, intimidate and embarrass others.
It’s possible to know a great deal about a subject, and not be a snob about it, and this can be true of wine knowledge. Just because you know a lot about wine doesn’t mean you’re a snob — without a “superior” attitude toward others, you could actually be a wine enthusiast.
There’s another category of wine lover that we think people mistakenly identify as a snob. That is the wine bore. Watch out! The wine bore is a dangerous threat to a great evening. Wine bores can literally put you to sleep. A wine bore may not even be a wine snob — just someone so full of wine information they can’t help spewing it out incessantly.
We still don’t think that was Joan.
So– what’s your definition of a wine snob? Any experiences with them?