How To Be an Amateur Wine Snob in 5 Easy Steps
I admit it: I am an amateur wine snob. An amateur wine snob is a person who knows enough about wine to be annoyingly high-maintenance, picky, and impressive. It is someone who can get an enormous amount of sensory pleasure from a good wine and who can say things like, "I want a well-balanced Cab and if I can get my hands on a 2005 from Oregon I'll be really happy."
Are you impressed yet?
Becoming an amateur wine snob is not as hard as it appears to be. There may be a dizzying amount of information out there about wine, but so there is about most anything, and a small amount of information goes a long way.
As an amateur wine snob I would like to have a quality glass of wine when I go out to dinner. The problem is most restaurants in America serve crappy junk wine because most of you don’t know enough to ask for better and will drink the average swill without complaint. That $6 glass of California red you ordered probably cost the restaurant less than $3 for the bottle. Cheap. Junk. Because of the lack of wine snobbery in this country, I have to go out of my way to go somewhere that serves good wine and I HATE going out of my way. I would like wine snobbery to spread far enough so I can get a gorgeous dry red with well-balanced, ripened tannins at a McDonald's drive-thru. (Okay, well, maybe not the drive-thru.)
Here are five easy steps to join the illustrious ranks of the Amateur Wine Snobs of America.
Step 1: You have to want it.
Does wine give you a headache? Not so, my friend. CRAPPY wine gives you a headache! Guess what? If you have a quality wine, you can drink an entire bottle without getting a headache. This knowledge is understood by both wine snobs and every homeless drunk in the world.
Why else should you want to be a wine snob?
- Impress your friends
- Impress your date (This is true for men and women unless your date is Homer Simpsonish. Homer would just be annoyed and intimidated by your sophistication.)
- Get a lot more pleasure out of a glass of wine
- It’s heart healthy
Do you need more reasons? There aren’t any. If you are not motivated now, go have a Bud Lite and stop wasting my time.
Step 2: Pick a favorite
If you drink any wine at all, you have a favorite. Do you like white, red, or rose? Dry or sweet? Fruity? Probably you have a type of grape you tend to prefer, too: Merlot, Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling? (If you said Zinfandel, I really can’t help you because I don’t know anything about wine that comes in boxes.)
If you don’t have a favorite, skip ahead to Step 3, drink a bunch of wine, and come back to this step later.
To refine your favorite you must pick a region to start with. California, Australia, South Africa -- whatever you gravitate toward. The idea here is that you only need to know a lot about a small, isolated segment of the wine world in order to drink it with some snobbery and a huge amount of enjoyment. I once heard a professional wine snob refer to wine drinking as traveling -- a lovely sentiment. Once you refine your taste in just one kind of wine, you will be shocked at the crap you’ve been drinking. Next you select another type and/or region and your snobbery just snowballs from there. In the end you will be almost impossible to satisfy.
Extra credit: If you want to be a really big snob, pick an Italian or French region for your favorite.
Step 3: Drink a bunch of wine
Once you have your favorite, go get a variety of bottles of that favorite wine and drink them. This is the most difficult step because it requires you to have a lot of fun. Since having fun is hard, you will just have to be disciplined. Don’t skip this step! You cannot become a wine snob without getting drunk a lot tasting a lot of wine.
Think about it as you taste the wine, and further refine your “favorite” list by asking yourself these three questions:
- Do I like it?
- Do I like it better than the other one?
- Why or why not?
Somewhere in the middle of this step you will get in touch with your inner wine snob. You will already be able to look at a wine list, skip the parts you haven’t studied, pick from the ones you have, and have some knowledge of what you are talking about. You now know enough to state quite sincerely and snobbily to the waiter at the restaurant in Toledo, Ohio, “Do you have anything other than California wines by the glass?”
Step 4: Ask for a taste
Did you know that it is not uncommon in a restaurant to request to taste a wine before you order it? Typically this is for by-the-glass only since they will likely have a bottle open already and won’t mind opening one for you if they don’t. You can taste multiple wines before you actually order one. The added benefit is that you can get drunk before you even order a glass learn more about what you like quickly and cheaply. Many wine bars offer a wine flight, typically for the price of a glass, which will allow you to taste several wines at once -- a great way to learn about wine, but make sure you get tastes from your narrow favorite.
Step 5: A few Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t smell the cork. The cork is put on the table in a restaurant only out of tradition. The fastest way to tell a faker is if he smells the cork. Historically, wine drinkers would glance at the cork to see that the name on it matched the one on the bottle to make sure they were not cheated. Not relevant today, and never about smelling, so don’t do it.
- Don’t pretend to know what you don’t know. Being a wine snob does not mean being a blow-hard poser. PS to all blow-hard posers…you’re obvious. I know you think you are not, but you are.
- Do swirl the wine in your glass a bit before your first sip. Doing so helps you taste it better because it puts more wine vapor in the air for your nose to take in.
- Do use food language. You don’t need to know fancy words to communicate to a good shop owner or waiter what you like. Just avoid food words like crunchy, peanut buttery, or minty -- unless you like messing with people.
Sunny Lohmann is a regular humor columnist for PJ Media and PJ Lifestyle. Her political satire videos have gotten a lot of attention in the blogosphere. Find out more about Sunny by checking out her blog, House of Sunny, follow her on Facebook here, and enjoy her most recent Youtube videos here. She tweets @sunnylikeaboss.