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Why all the wine snobbery?

Or, I’m getting a lot of bramble…

With just about any interest or hobby, there is at least a bit of a learning curve, one which an absolute beginner must climb in order to begin to really jump in and enjoy the adventure.

You’ve got to float before you can swim. You’ve got to know how to boil water before you can make risotto. You’ve got to learn how to push the pedals and balance before you can cycle in an MS 150, or the Tour de France, for that matter.

And in wine, you also have to start somewhere and commit to learning in order to learn what you like and why.

With wine there can be so many barriers to learning: price, foreign names, inconsistent labels, conflicting reviews, so many grapes. And, yes, sometimes you come across a bit of wine snobbery from those who profess to know much, much more.

I would like to encourage you to ignore that last challenge as much as you possibly can. And, yes I DO understand how challenging that can be when someone is asking you what you taste in a wine and or what you smell and all you can say is “Um, I don’t know, but I know I like it!”

I was at the Women for WineSense Grand Event in Napa a few weeks ago and John Robinson, husband of world-renowned Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson, gave this advice when faced with that quandry:

“If someone says to you, ‘What are you getting in the wine,’ and you don’t have an answer, say ‘I don’t know, what are you getting?’ “ He said.

Then he continued:

“If they press further, always say ‘I’m getting a little bit of bramble.’ No one knows what that is, and so they won’t want to question you.”

Of course this got a great laugh from the crowd. And I would like to say it was very good advice. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. Enjoy trying new wines and don’t worry about what you taste or smell. Just make note of whether you like the wine or not and move on.

Someday and with some wines, distinctive flavors may grab you and identify themselves to you. But if they never do, what does it matter? It matters only if you enjoy the wine and the experience.

Start figuring out what wines you like and make note of the wine, the grape and region and go from there. The details will work themselves out and it won’t be long before you see a pattern and can order with confidence. Then you can worry about all those nuances and details.

Until then, embrace the bramble.

7 Comments

  1. Jason Johnson

    Bramble is delicious!

  2. Cindy Anderson

    OH MY GOSH….. I am normal! I can not tell you how much this post meant to me! Sometime, well, actually, quite often, people make me feel so insecure about knowing what is in a wine. I just know I like it and who knows I may never drink it again, but I sure enjoyed it at that time. I think I may take your advice and start making a few notes on my iphone. GREAT POST, my dear!!!

  3. Becky

    Great post! One of my favorites of yours to date! :) Keep up the awesome work!

  4. Pamela Heiligenthal

    I definitely agree! Wine should be fun. Drink what you like and trust your palate.

  5. Lorrie S. LeBeaux

    A very lovely post. You just have decide if you like it or not. All wine drinkers are not wine wrtiers/wine bloggers. The idea of decscriptions, and so on and so forth, are not essentional to enjoying a glass of wine. So, let the tasting begin without all the snobbery.

    1. Lorrie S. LeBeaux

      Sorry wine writers. My keys stick people and I need my eyes checkes. So excuse any typos…

  6. Caroline

    Great post Amy. I remember a winemaker friend of mine saying that the only thing that really mattered is drinking what YOU like. It doesn’t really matter what others think. From a very young age we instinctively know what we like – foodwise – and at that age we cannot explain WHY we like it – we just know we do. With age we become more eloquent and I do believe that with wine appreciation the same pattern holds. In French there is a saying “Les gouts et les couleurs ne se disputent pas” – this means that there are no wrong and rights when we speak about taste and colours:-)

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