A know-it-all wine snob can ruin a wine experience by forcing the “right” agenda down your throat, along with the “right” wine. Wine is one of those things about which some people obsess the arcane minutia. Snobbery is when that obsession bleeds into casual social circumstance. We’ve all been to a party where a wine snob is talking down their nose at the complimentary 2-Buck Chuck. Their condescending words spewing forth from their mouth like vomit, pushing amiable party-goers into reluctant participants in a one-sided debate.
Here are some tricks to shut that jerk up, open the floor to everyone’s tasting experiences, and most importantly: not be a wine snob yourself.
Rule #1 Drink With Friends
Wine is social, so…
- A. Stop drinking alone
- B. Drink it with people you enjoy.
Making an informal tasting group is a great excuse to buy some wine and have a party. Remember: no one likes being at a party with snobs. So don’t invite them…and don’t be a snob.
Rule #2 Understand your Environment
Master Sommelier exams are not the time for Mr. Gigglepants to come out. But just the same, “whispy notes of rose and oaky vanilla” is a ridiculous thing to announce over hamburgers at a neighborhood backyard BBQ. Who are you, Baudelaire? The point is, don’t feel you can only speak about wine with the same scripted platitudes you hear at wine tastings.
“Who are you, Baudelaire?”
That’s not to say you shouldn’t appreciate wine, it’s your experience, so own it. But if a wine reminds you of the Kool-Aid man busting through a wall and yelling “OH YEEAH”, say it, haters are going to hate. I bet you have your reasons. (a wine snob might try to over-sophisticate the same wine as “powerful opening with saccharine fruit mid palate and a red brick/clay finish”) OH NOOOOOO.
Rule #3 Ask Questions
If smartypants wine connoisseur won’t shut up, there’s a chance they know something. Ask them questions about what you’re tasting. They might be able to point out some interesting characteristics that round out your experience of the wine, such as “this wine was grown with unicorn blood, you can really taste the copper”. You may not taste the same things. You probably won’t, and that’s ok. Maybe just by paying attention they will feel validated and calm down a bit. Wine snobs are notoriously insecure, your patience is appreciated.
Rule #4 Fight Fire with Fire
If you are left with no more outs, it’s time to silence the beast. Remember how I said don’t be a jerk? Well, sometimes a little sarcastic snobbery is in order.
Dealing With a Snob: You call that a platitude?!?!?
If put on the spot, keep repeating “Interesting…very interesting” after every sip. Nod your head knowingly.
Say, “OH WOW” at awkward times to intentionally interrupt them.
Hold your glass up to the light and admire the wine. If someone asks you what you see simply respond, “it’s just very surprising.”
Wait for them to describe the wine, then smile and while shaking your head encouragingly say ‘Yeah, you’re close, keep trying.’
Oh, so they like a wine from 2006 (enter vintage)?
Response: I don’t drink wine that young.
They favor Italian (or region)?
Response: What a shame, given the situation over there (BE VAGUE!).. Defer if confronted, it’s really not classy discussing such dated news after all..
Oh, they think this wine has an interesting nose on it?
Response: It must be hard to tell drinking out of that glass.
Did they just spew a pretentious wine description at you?
Response: *wince* Really? Huh. Do you smoke?
(UNSUBSTANTIATED ACCUSATIONS ARE UNASSAILABLE!)
Check out 40 wine descriptors and what they really mean for more wine word ammo.