Wine snobs can spoil an evening


Sometimes it is just so annoying when people are pretending to know everything and frown upon us mortals who just enjoy the wine for what it is.

The joke is that most of these snobs learned their annoying behavior from other snobs and not from true wine experts. So it is more a behavioral (pretending)  thing than a wine appreciation thing .

 Alex Renton from The Times wrote a lovely article about these wine snobs. He writes:  

 A good way is to give people who think they know their wine a white and a light red to taste from black glasses. (If you lack this essential piece of crockery a blindfold may be used.) If the wines are both the same temperature and the subjects are allowed just one sip, they will as often guess wrongly which glass contains which colour. I gather they used to try this experiment at one of the top oenology institutes, but stopped because the results made the students unhappy.

The wine trade has always profited from the fact that people’s appreciation of the product is based on their most fallible sense organs, which feed information to the part of the brain that deals with snobbery. The graphic designer who turns out the label has more influence on the bulk of my purchases than any winemaker, and I suspect that I’m not alone.

If we buy our wine in surroundings that impress us, we seem to lose even more of our good sense. A man who managed the wine purchases for one of the grand French hotel chains told me that he knew from experience that 5 per cent of his stock would be off in some way. “But, luckily, only 1 per cent of the bottles is ever sent back.”

The proportion of wine bottles that are cork-tainted or oxidised – undrinkable – is probably higher than that. At the big wine competitions as much as 7 per cent of bottles are rejected for these reasons, and they are of course the best-kept wines. How many of us reject 1 bottle in 14 of those we open? As yet there is no way of knowing what a bottle contains until you open it. We must hope that science never comes up with such a gadget: it will push prices up terribly.

But one thing you can now be sure of is that if a wine bottle is stopped with a cork – plastic or tree bark – it is more likely to let you down. Screw-capped bottles have a failure rate of less than half those of corked ones. They’ve been used long enough now for it to be shown that the greatest wines will work just as well under screw top: the technology has advanced enough for the wine-maker to adjust the cap to let in the amount of air necessary for the wine to age properly. But even knowing this, I will hesitate before taking screw-topped wine as a present. A snob, you see. Unless of course it’s one of those parties where you can just shove it on the table behind something posher.

The best thing about wine is that it doesn’t really matter – we taste what we expect to taste. As with most shopping, bargains give more pleasure.



~ by tallhorsewines on February 27, 2009.

One Response to “Wine snobs can spoil an evening”

  1. I could not agree more. I opened my first restaurant specifically because I was sick of wine snobs. If you like the wine, then it’s good wine.

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