Monday, 11 June 2012

Wine Snob versus Wine Enthusiast - which one are you?

I must admit that I have a true avocation for wine.  I enjoy wine on its own, with food, and to share with friends.  I also enjoy reading about wine and learning more about how it's made, where it is best made, how to buy and store it, and how to drink it.

Over time, I have developed a deeper appreciation for the exquisite and multi-dimensional nature of wine and it has become an important part of my life, but no more important than my faith, my job, my friends, my passion for reading on a wide variety of topics, and a general zest for life overall.  I have been able to achieve a deeper experience and understanding of the wines I drink, and that has enhanced some of my other experiences.  For example, we are having a chicken and mushroom risotto for dinner tonight.  My wife makes a really good risotto (you can view the chopped-up chicken and mushrooms below)!

With the chicken, Parmesan cheese and mushrooms, I knew I wanted a rich, aged chardonnay to go with it.  I selected my last bottle of the 2003 Saddler's Creek Reserve Chardonnay. (Look at the beautiful golden color of a perfectly aged white wine!)  I did so because I have had a few bottles previously and felt it would pair beautifully with a chicken and mushroom risotto, and I also knew the bottle should be drunk in the next few years and I did not want to wait too long or it might go off.  Fortunately the wine was perfect and I am drinking some as I write this posting.  We paid $10 per bottle for the wine as Saddler's was trying to clear older inventory and we bought the last 8 bottles they had.  But it drinks like a $130 bottle of Penfolds Yattarna or a decent Montrachet.  This turned out to be one of the best buys of my life!

As you can tell, I put a bit of thought into buying the wine in the first place and also when to drink it and what food to drink it with. Some people would claim "I take my wine too seriously, so I must be a wine snob", but I hardly think that is the case.  To me it is a natural passion or avocation as I mentioned, much like others have a passion for working out or art or literature.  Because I have developed a bit of knowledge over the years, it has become much easier to select a good (and good valued) wine to go with an everyday dinner.  And I put more thought into the wines that match up with dinners when we host our "Single's and Strays" dinner parties, have friends over, or a special birthday or anniversary.  (BTW, all birthdays and anniversaries are special!)  But then, most of those events become special occasions and lifetime memories.  Does that make me a wine snob?  I don't think so.

I discussed this with some other wine aficionados and we felt that a wine snob had the following characteristics:

Wine Snob
  • They bragged about the excellent wines they had, but never found the opportunity to share the wine with friends or to give a bottle to a friend
  • They want to have you admit to them having a superior knowledge of wine over you - they are as uninterested in sharing their knowledge as they are their wines - they just want to 'show off'.
  • They talk a great deal about how much they have paid for expensive wines, and seem to only drink expensive wines

Whereas a wine enthusiast, we felt, had the following characteristics:

Wine Enthusiast
  • They are happy to share wine, either by contributing a bottle, or by asking all who share to chip in for a special bottle of wine, or by setting some rules to have each person bring a bottle according to the rules established
  • They listen to others and want to learn and also share their knowledge and are excited to help others develop an appreciation of wine and mature as a wine drinker and possibly collector
  • They get as much and even greater pleasure out of finding a 'cheap' but great wine and would rather drink that than an expensive bottle of wine
We have two friends who are studying to become international Masters of Wine (MW).  An international MW costs about $200,000 to buy, taste and compare wines to develop an internationally acclaimed palate and ability to compare and describe wines to others.  (There are only about 475 MWs globally!)  They are also professional wine judges (in addition to their full-time jobs), but in no way are they wine snobs.  They get great excitement over finding a Canberra (ACT, Australia)  Sangiovese for $20 per bottle and a Marsanne for $15 which they have introduced us to.  A wine snob would not even try a wine from Canberra, yet alone a wine under $20.  We have had a 9-hour lunch at their house (he is French, she is Australian - what can I say?) and we bring over wines we really want to share with them and they pick out wines they really want to share and introduce to us.  These wine may be in the $10 - $20 per bottle range or they may be $40 - $60 per bottle, but it does not matter - what matters is sharing our wine, our knowledge and our friendship with each other.

I therefore, prefer to call myself a 'wine enthusiast', not a 'wine snob'.  How about you?

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