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How To Be A Wine Snob

Updated on March 27, 2010

You should know how to tell the two different "connoisseurs" apart:

  1. Oenophile. These are the experts on wine who study the process, principles, and making of wine. They buy very expensive bottles of rare wines, and can taste the difference between a ’97 Tawsy Shiraz and a ’96 St Henri. Stay away from them.
  2. Wine snob. This could be you! Read on....

Photo courtesy of Luis Rock
Photo courtesy of Luis Rock

What You Need To Know

Open the wine properly. This means you should use an opener: avoid buying wines with bottle caps or in casks, and don't bust the neck of the bottle on a counter and swig from the broken glass. Use one of those butterfly openers or, if you want to look really good, use one of those weird openers that looks like an over-sized AC power adapter prong.

Let the wine breathe. This means you let the bottle stand out in the open air, where the flies can walk all over it, asbestos particles can trickle into it from the ceiling, or passing sneeze droplets can drift right in. Breathing improves the taste of the wine and gets rid of the sediment.

Pour the wine into a wine glass. Let it splash against the sides of the glass helpfully. I do recommend a wine glass: paper or foam cups won’t do; for one thing, they don't sound as cheerful when you throw the empty into a fireplace. Or is that what you do with champagne flutes? I don't have a fireplace, so I'm not sure what I would do.

Hold the glass by the stem. Don't drink out of it by holding the bowl of the glass: it puts fingerprints all over the wine, and then you have to wash it. If you keep fingerprints off the glass, you can rinse it out and put it right back in the cupboard.

Swish the wine around in the glass. This makes all the shit that fell into the breathing wine bottle as well as the gunk left in the unwashed glass sink to the bottom. Check it out: most people will never notice.

Sniff the wine. This helps you determine the quality of the wine, especially indicative through its aroma (or bouquet). More importantly, it tips you off as to whether there's really even wine in the glass. Take a fast swallow. This essentially scalds the throat so badly that anything you drink after this tastes good.

Take a slow swallow. This helps you figure out whether you even want to finish the glass, or in fact even want to drink straight out of the bottle.

Don't spit the wine. Many wine tasters spit the wine after swishing it in their mouths. Don't do this... you'll never get drunk that way and the stains are hard to remove from the wall.

Home

This is the best place to practice your skills at snobbery. If you make mistakes, waiters won't snicker at you. Plus, you can discover what you really like. Some advice? Sure!

Get a wine rack. Don't invest in one of those wall-sized racks, because you'll go broke trying to fill it. If you can afford to fill it, e-mail me. I want to come over and help you empty it. Get just a small one that holds a dozen or so bottles.

Buy a few good bottles to fill it. Although these are for show, you do want to have good wine in case friends call you on it. I recommend you get some basic wines: 2 Shiraz, 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, a Pinot Noir, a weird wine (some strange thing that no one knows much about, like Bulls Blood, you'll never drink, but that you can make up any mythical story about in terms of quality), and never save white wine – they are a waste of space.

Don't drink your collection. Sure that sounds strange, but you must resist the temptation. I've made this mistake hundreds of times.

Don't get expensive wines. You'll always drink them on dumb occasions that seemed worthwhile at the time. It's cheaper to impress a date by claiming your $7.99 bottle is $125... as opposed to buying a $125 bottle that you couldn’t taste because you were drunk anyway.

Choose wines with pretty labels. Not everyone is a wine snob, but most people judge a book by it’s cover.

Where To Be A Wine Snob

There are two places you can be a wine snob: either at home, or in public (such as a restaurant).

Public

So this chick/guy in the restaurant comes over and offers you a wine list. (S)he's probably just a wait(ress)er. or in some classier places, the manager.

Look at the wine list knowingly; if you can pull it off, feign disdain over their actual lack of quality wines (remember, you're faking it). Glance over, and decide how much you can afford. Once you know this, double that amount and decide what and which.

Qualities Of Snobby Wines

Body: How dark or light it appears when you hold it up to the light. Heavy bodied wines are really dark, while light bodied wines are very translucent. Just say "decent body" if you aren't sure. If you're with an attractive dinner companion, say "nice body," and then add "the wine, I mean," as you wink.

Bouquet: How the wine smells. If it smells like underwear, you say nothing. If it smells fruity, you say "fruity." If it smells like wine, you say "excellent."

Palate: This is defined as "hard" or "soft," so you know we're really talking about its kick. A wine that is hard on the palate essentially screws your eyes up.

Residual Sugar: "Sweet" means you won't really be able to stop drinking it, although you'll hate it the whole time. Brown Brothers at Milawa make a sweet Italian style wine called a Dolcetto. It comes in a pretty bottle too. “Dry” is unpalatable for my liking.

Okay, that'll do. Now get drunk.

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