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What is a wine snob, and am I one?


#1

Was browsing in a rural wine shop yesterday, and came across an interesting wine. I enquired of the sales person as to the characteristics of the wine…priced at £7… because I felt the price should have been higher.
The response. “You must be one of those wine snobs” caught me off guard. So I left.


#2

What’s wrong in being a wine snob? Is this the same as being a wine bore?


#3

Gosh! That is awful! Not only because they just lost a customer, but mostly because it’s such a rude and dismissive remark! :frowning_face:

It says more about him/her’s insecurity about your question than about your supposed ‘snobbery’!


#4

I go into Majestic Wimbledon to pick up a L&W reserves case, I’m the guy with the case of the ‘pricey stuff’ (despite everything being under £20/bottle IB). I go into Wimbledon Wine Cellar, 200 yards down the road, and I’m nervously sidling round shelves of bottles costing 2x or 3x more than I’ve ever spent on a bottle of wine feeling like a complete impostor. Everything is comparative. Does sound a tad rude though.


#5

I think a wine snob would be someone who won’t drink a wine because its not from a certain producer, price point or certain vintage. The shop you were in were just rude, a wine at £7 should have some character to it so you asked the right sort of question - its not a £4 Tesco value Spanish wine in a plastic bottle!


#6

A snob is someone you don’t like because they know more about a certain subject than you. :wink:


#7

That’s such a shame that you got that reaction from them! If you’d been dismissing the wine because the price then maybe them calling you a snob would make more sense (but it’s still bloody rude!) but from the sounds of it you were asking an honest question out of curiosity and not being a snob!


#8

Go back in the shop, pick up the bottle again and say “Seven pounds?? Pah! I don’t touch the corkscrew for less than a hundred!”

Then spin around on your heel and leave :+1:


#9

This country is inherently aggrieved and suspicious of any person liking something ‘fancy’, more expensive and in fact has a kind of boasting about NOT knowing something. Weird :joy:


#10

The phrase really annoys me. We don’t call lawyers ‘legal snobs’ or bricklayers ‘building snobs’ when those people know a lot about their chosen interests or professions.
The original definition of a snob was someone who copied their social betters, aping their manners. The phrase might be a hangover from when wine was considered an upper class prerogative.


#11

He actually should have thanked you and advised his boss to consider increasing the price of the wine. He might have gotten a promotion. It was hardly pretentious if you to suggest that one of the wines was very well priced.


#12

My “favourite” wine snob was the awful woman on a wine tour who refused to taste anything unless the retail bottle price was over £20. This was in Tuscany a good few years ago so she missed a lot of good stuff!


#13

I’m speechless…!!! :scream::scream:


#14

Even worse, she refused on behalf of her poor down-trodden husband as well!


#15

What a schmuck!
To me, this betrays a strange sort of ignorance about wine appreciation. What did Wilde say… “The cost of everything and the value of nothing”…? :thinking:


#16

A wine snob is interested in scores out of 100 and wine prices. I get loads of pleasure from well made unpretentious wines of all sorts. I have (most through tastings and eight years working in the wine trade) tried some very expensive and sometimes wonderful wine, that is now way beyond what I can justify paying for. Being able to appreciate wine and having some knowledge of what you are drinking makes the experience about more than getting slightly (or very) squiffy.

Some people are threatened by people who are more knowledgeable or smarter than them. Wine snobs are quite distinct from genuine wine lovers.


#17

Oh…I’m interested in wine scores, as high as possible for as low a price point as possible; I certainly place some merit and trust in the professionals who spend their lives judging the qualities of wine. Should I get my coat? :thinking:

As with most things I’m actually interested in though, those are just two possible variables
/criteria, they’re not a sacred unbreakable rule.

I think it boils down to making a distinction between genuine passion about, interest in, pleasure from and the joie de vivre that wine brings, versus simply being pretentious about it.

When all else is said and done, what counts is whether (and how much) I like it, when I smell it and taste it.

I like to play a little joke when tasting wine to diffuse any snobbery…I lift the glass to my ear to see what it sounds like… :wink:


#18

I don’t think I’m a wine snob (I’ll drink anything, well at least once and often twice just make sure). Snobbery in my book is looking down on the choices/actions of others, and is often based on a lack of any real understanding.

However I confess I am a wine bore - though have learnt from experience to suppress my inner bore unless those I am with invite him out…


#19

I’m going to wade in on this topic, and apologies for doing so rather late in the day.

I like its philosophical characteristics.

I’m going to attempt two things: first, to define what a wine snob is, and second, to compare a wine snob to other types of wine person that people often conflate with snobs.

Fundamentally, snobbery is about prejudice, which is a widespread form of ignorance. And importantly, prejudice requires a person to know that they are ignorant. So prejudice is reliant on wilful ignorance. This is a necessary but not sufficient condition of snobbery. The second condition, that completes the picture, is the attendant conviction that the person’s prejudiced beliefs are true, in spite of any evidence or convincing argument to the contrary. This second component is what makes prejudice so especially infuriating.

So in the case of a wine snob specifically, it’s a person who has a number of prejudices about wine - for example:

  • A region that is “superior” to all others (Bordeaux is very common in Britain - the classic “claret snob”) - and therefore the region that all others should be compared to, a benchmark
  • A price below which wines are not “good”
  • Or even something as stupid as “I don’t drink red” or “the New World has no soul” (a famously French position)

Basically some form of red line - saying “I won’t cross this line, and that’s my marker for quality” (“quality” could just mean “worthwhile experiences”), and anything outside of this marker is inferior.

But here lies the inherent, rather beautiful, paradox about snobbery - that outside of the marker, snobs consider that people are ignorant - they don’t know, or recognise, the truth that the snob can uniquely see.

This is why the wine snob is infuriatingly self-defeating.

To further compound this cognitive dissonance, the wine snob also often displays a set of predictable, alienating behaviours - for example pomposity, condescension or simply a very basically rude form of impatience.

Now this is different from an elitist. They are, frustratingly to me, frequently conflated with snobs. An elitist is a person who believes there to be an objective truth about quality. This person will say, “there are criteria that determine what greatness is, and therefore wines that do not satisfy these criteria, do not qualify for greatness, and the job of the person who aspires to appreciate these wines, is to know how to interpret and understand these criteria in order to identify wines that satisfy them, or come close to satisfying them”.

The irony about this is that elitist in many respects abhors snobbery, because snobbery prevents people from learning things, and elitism encourages people to learn things.

Now under elitism, what those criteria are, is a matter of debate and discussion, and I think the elitist can engage with this problem, whereas the snob cannot.

Finally, a wine bore is a person who could either be a snob or an elitist, but who lacks the emotional intelligence to understand their audience. It’s the person you do not want to be cornered by at a party.

So imagine a Venn diagram (sorry can’t draw one here): all wine snobs, elitists and bores, are wine lovers, but not all wine lovers are snobs, elitists or bores. No wine elitists can be snobs, but they can be bores. No wine snobs can be elitists (although they often think they are or want to be elitists). Many snobs and elitists are wine bores. (Which is why people confuse them - some elitists, to the uninitiated, look like snobs).


#20

When talking about wine preferences to a girlfriends brother some years ago, his expressed wish was to only buy a particular Bordeaux that had Petrus in its name.
As far as White Burgundy was concerned only Montrachet would do.
I found this attitude disconcerting as he is a spectacularly moral and ethical man with a sense of humour that is truly breath-taking.
His attitude to his wine purchases came with a cost, which have over the years has ramped up.
As with the demise of my relationship with his sister, we have lost touch.
He is/was, I can only imagine as being the definition of a wine snob.
He is the most likable of people that I have ever met and until I encountered him, could never imagine liking a "wine snob. How wrong was I??
I do fervently hope that he has found other wine that suits his palate.
I have seen research that tasters score higher when they can see the label on the product that they are tasting. That is why I would prefer tasters to score blind, i.e. no quality information available. My opinion is this that this is the way to “defeat” a wine snob. It surprised me to discover some “experts” avoid blind tastings, with respect to them, I have little interest in their scribblings!!
I have tasted blind with friends after a dinner party. One of my favourites was using 3 qualities of Remy Martin Cognac from VSOP through to a Louis? bottle. We mostly preferred the middle bottle , I never bought the expensive bottle again.
There again 3 Perrin bottles, La Vielle Ferme, Coudoulet and Beaucastel. Normally a contest between the better two cuvees, but sheer class normally wins out.
Fun can be had when using the same wine but different glasses. That can be an eyeopener but maybe the subject of a different thread.
My view is that being a wine snob is a dangerous game and proponents are set up to fail.
Me, trust your palate.