Dealing with wine snobs

    I just left the store shaking my head.

    Every once in a while we get through the doors what can only be described as the quintessential "wine snob." I know this sound petty and a bit crazy but wine snobs do exist and are, it seems, proliferating in alarming numbers. Let me distinguish a wonderful wine person from one who (and this is after almost 40 years in the business) can qualify as a true Snobis Vino Veritas. Here we go;

    1. Name dropping &

    I once had a man tell me, after poking around in the shop for a few hours, that he was "the former college roommate of the best friend of the second cousin's (once removed) third wife of a 'very famous wine maker' in the Napa Valley." He went on to tell me all about Napa Valley wine according to his former college roommate of 30 years ago! Even I can't make this stuff up! He went on for 30 minutes about the wines from Napa, then verbally spent, left the premise. Ugh.

    2. I remember when &

    These folks are classics. Pointing to five or six bottles of wine the Snobis will tell me when he or she used to buy this wine at three dollars a bottle back in the "Good old days" when wine was "really made well." Of course, a new house was $40,000 and minimum wage was about a buck an hour. I simply nod and listen.

    3. I've got a cellar worth of wine &

    It's fun to hear about personal cellars. Listening to every wine, every vintage date, where each wine was purchased, who the person was with when the wine was purchased and what they had for lunch is a bit much.

    The other problem with folks like this is that the major parts of these cellars go bad from not being consumed! You can always tell a serious wine snob by their reluctance to consume the wine in their cellars. The attachment to the wines in their cellars becomes, for lack of a better word, obsessive. I have no idea why this happens but for the most part parting with the wine takes something from their persona or "worth" on some level. The sad truth is that wine, any wine, will go bad after some length of time in even the best kept cellar.

    Of course I am not writing about the average wine consumer with a few cases of wine tucked under the stairs but the wine dude with 50 cases of wine who has no thought of when to consume the juice.

    Many years ago I helped a wine collector move his very large cellar of wine from one house to another. I noticed cases of great Bordeaux from the 1964 and 1966 vintages. As a treat for helping him move I asked him to open one of these wines at a dinner I was making the following week. He hemmed and hawed and skirted the issue.

    He passed away without ever tasting these wines! What a shame.

    4. Gotta have this wine! &

    The tell tale sign of the wine snob is the person who comes into a winery or retail shop with a cutting from a newspaper telling about a "super" wine that just went on the shelves for sale. This "must have" wine becomes an all consuming search that entails many, many hours of exploring to find just this very wine.

    Not long ago I ran into a man who pulled out a wine list from a wine writer from New York and asked me for this specific wine, a Zinfandel from Amador County. There are hundreds of fine Zinfandels from Amador County that are less money, better made wines from a superior vintage than the wine he so desperately wanted from the news clipping. I have no idea why some of these consumers are so "tuned in" to a phantom wine writer living 3,000 miles away but the "Gotta Have" guy is, on some level "wine tortured" and remains unhappy until the wine is found.

    Happily for me and for the wine industry in general are people who love to have fun with wine! This is why I sell wine and write about wine. A glass of wine should be a little spot of joy at the end of the day that can be shared with someone you care about. This is, when it is all said and done, what it is all about.

    See you next week!

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