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Friday, August 3, 2012

Wine Geek or Wine Snob?


What’s a wine snob, you may ask?  Sometimes I wonder what really is a wine snob.  I’d describe a wine snob as someone who is narrow minded and probably purports to know more than he/she actually does about wine, and uses such limited knowledge of so vast a topic as a way of looking cultured somehow.  It’s a person who “loves” wine for all the wrong reasons.
My concern, for lack of a better term, is that some of us who embrace and respect wine are labeled wine snobs, because we take the time to learn about it and aren’t ashamed to possess such knowledge and appreciation.  But that doesn’t make a person a wine snob; rather, that’s a “wine geek” - and I’m proud to call myself one.  For me, one huge difference between a wine snob and a wine geek is that a wine snob focuses on name and price generally and shuns something from a lesser known grape or region, or at a lower price point, while the wine geek is happy to drink Petrus from a great vintage, as well as a funky wine from an off-beat grape from a nearly unknown region, for a fraction of the price, and is proud to have found such a bargain that delivers.
Sometimes I’m not sure when to feel more proud - that I found an opportunity to drink an iconic wine such as a First Growth Bordeaux or one of the great Super Tuscans or a special Napa red, or that I had provided myself with enough knowledge to hunt down something few people know about, paid under $20, and absolutely loved the unique expressiveness of the wine.  The wine snob will miss out on a cool wine from Irouleguy or Valle d’Aosta or Nahe or Minho or Montsant, but the wine geek is thrilled to come upon one of these treasures for under $20.
Raise your hand if you’re proud to be a wine geek.  Embrace your knowledge and continue to fortify it.  Expand your palate and your understanding of wine.  And don’t apologize for the kind of respect you have for wine, for its makers, and for its centuries of history.  You’re not a wine snob if you keep an open mind.  And if you’re a wine snob, perhaps remove the white wig and stop judging and looking down on the Tannats and Prie Blancs of the world - and prepare yourself for a delicious and fun surprise when you decide to try them.  The Bordeaux and Piemonte reds can wait for your attention, so put them in your cellar and grab a Schiava and enjoy it! 

Schiava/Lagrein blend - Alto Adige

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