Fellow wine writer Eric Asimov thinks that we have a big problem in this country. His argument is somewhat more subtle, but hopefully he'll forgive me for boiling it down to the fact that it's a damn shame that people think they need to know something about wine in order to enjoy it. He posits that we have a culture that has turned wine into an intellectual object, imbued with status and special qualities that can only be perceived and appreciated by the knowledgeable.
While Eric and I might disagree about the causes of and contributors to this malaise, I completely agree that it's a problem. I wrote my thoughts about it in a post a couple of years ago entitled The Travesty of Wine and Social Class in America.
One of the byproducts of this class driven, intellectualization of wine is something that I like to call the Wine Asshole. In 2007 a study showed that 22% of men in the UK embellished their wine knowledge to impress their dates. And worse, 35% refused to let their dates choose a wine at dinner.
Well a new study has recently come out showing that 62% of self described "wine lovers" in the UK think they know "a lot about wine" but when tested got many basic facts wrong. Much more egregiously, however, 66% said they "bluffed their way through" interactions with sommeliers at restaurants, and 30% said they do not trust a sommelier's opinion while at the same time 84% feel "they are being ripped off" in restaurants.
So let's just get this straight once and for all, guys (yes, it is mostly men that have issues here). Knowing something about wine doesn't mean shit. It doesn't make you special, sophisticated, cultured, or classy. Like any knowledge it's all in how you use it. And when you're over your head, its much sexier to ask for help than it is to bluff your way through. There's nothing shameful in seeking the help of a professional. Spend your time paying attention to your date instead of in a pissing contest with a sommelier.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Acid Freaks Unite: Highlights From the 2015 IPOB Tasting Vinography Images: A Brief Oasis Going Dry In California Off to Taste Champagne! Vinography Unboxed: Week of April 5, 2015 Vinography Images: The Color of Spring Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 29, 2015 Vinography Images: Waves of Vines Tempranillo (and Gang) TAPAS Tasting: April 26, San Francisco A Man, An Island, and a Bottle of Grüner: The Wines of Rudi Pichler
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune