I analyzed this subject very carefully and arrived at the conclusion that there are three kinds of wine snobs: The Regular Wine Snob, the Fake Wine Snob and the Wannabe Wine Snob. In this article I will describe each one of them at length.
The Regular Wine Snob is a special breed of wine lover that has the need to proclaim his superior knowledge of wine which we are not supposed to question. He only drinks wines from specific regions and non from others, from specific vintage years and only from a handful of special wineries. All the others are “haram” (which means forbidden in Arabic).
A Wine Snob believes he knows everything there is to know about wine. If you offer him a Cabernet, he will ask you for the region. If you tell him the Sierra Foothills, he will say forget it brother! If you say Napa, he will ask for the name of the winery. Even if he approves the winery, he will ask for the vintage year. If the vintage is younger than 10 years, he will walk away with disgust.
A Wine Snob buys wines only from wineries that are on allocation and have a long waiting list of at least five years before they will accept you as a customer. The Wine Snob brags that he has such good connections with all these wineries that he will get accepted as a customer instantly.
Wine Snobs like to talk about their conquests. One of my Wine Snob friends told me the following story:
“When I visited Bordeaux in 1989, I was invited by the winemaker of Chateau Lafite Rothschild to come and visit him at the Grand Chateau for a tasting from his private collection. When I got there, the winemaker had a bottle of 1956 Grand Crus Lafite Rothschild, all prepared on the table with two 18th century Riedel glasses, the size of an average melon, and a decanter. He proceeded to pull the cork, not in one piece but in crumbles and a funky, musty aroma of barnyard and horse blanket filled the air. This is not abnormal for a wine of this age, which incidentally was still totally at its peak to show such wonderful aroma characteristics.
We waited patiently for almost an hour, without saying even one word, since he didn’t speak any English and in spite of my vast knowledge of wines and winemaking, I can’t say that I mastered the French language either. My winemaker finally poured the wine very carefully and with precision into both glasses. I proceeded to scrutinize the wine, the best way I knew how, from bottom to top. First, I watched with admiration the metallic, electric brown color and the thick legs that formed on the walls of the glass. Then I proceeded to take a whiff, one nostril at a time from both sides of the glass so that I don’t miss even a small molecule of this vastly complex wine. Then I took a sip to cleanse my tongue, first regurgitating it up and down and from side to side until my tongue felt clean. The second sip sent me to heaven. But this is not the end of my story.
My winemaker friend offered me the deal of my life. He happened to have a second 1956 Grand Crus Lafitte Rothchild in his collection that he would offer it to me to buy. This wine, which normally sells for $150,000 in an auction, he would let me have it for $5,500”.
Unfortunately, I ran out of space to tell you about the Fake Wine Snob and the Wannabe Wine Snob. I promise I will do it in one of my next Winemaker’s Corners.
In the meantime, I wish all my winemaker colleagues in the area and my friends, which for the most part, are not Wine Snobs a very successful harvest season. Cheers!