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Friday, May 27, 2016

Wine Snobs Vs. Slobs

So much about modern wine culture seems to be people trying to make other people feel intimidated by the whole process, like they aren’t even capable of being in the same room as a decent bottle of wine let alone fit to drink it. I’ve seen countless scenes in movies where the hero, perhaps James Bond, out-snobs his opponent by correctly guessing a wine down to the date of the harvest. You never see women playing this ridiculous charade, probably because most don’t have a penis which means that they don’t have really small penises they need to over-compensate for in some way. The truth is that few mortals can distinguish one wine from another. True story, most people can’t even tell red wine from white in blind tastings so take off that stupid ascot and shut your pie hole. 

There are really only two questions to ask regarding wine: will it get you totally wasted and are you sure this party has an open bar? OK, the science of oenology may be a bit more complicated than that but still, there’s no reason to go overboard. By overboard I mean memorizing a laundry list of adjectives to describe what you’ve just poured down your gullet. Seriously, how could wine taste like raspberries if it’s made out of grapes? Answer: it can’t, so shut the hell up about raspberries and citrus and a lot of other stuff that they don’t put in wine unless you’re talking about sangria.

I’ll admit that I’m as guilty as the next douche bag when it comes to being a douche bag about wine, like how I’ll spend a certain minimum on a bottle of wine at the supermarket just because I don’t want the cute check-out girl to think I’m some degenerate alcoholic who buys the cheapest wine in the store even though I can’t tell the difference between the really cheap stuff and the stuff that is sure to impress the cute check-out girl. Another myth about wine is that unless you’re spending a fortune you may as well be drinking out of the toilet.

Speaking of toilets, I’ve been in a lot of bars in my life, many of which have been real…what’s a polite way to say “shit holes?”  But even in the most grotesque dive bars I’ve never felt that I could order their “finest bottle of wine.” Most of these dives probably didn’t even serve wine but I still felt too cheap to ask for their best. I’m sure that lots of rich creeps order the most expensive wine on the list everywhere they go, even at the post office just so everyone knows the pecking order, so to speak. I know my place in the pecking order and it’s somewhere around the second or third bottle from the bottom of the menu only because—as I said before—I’m too intimidated to order the cheapest bottle. 

This snobbishness is alienating countless potential consumers who are put off by the sometimes absurd pageantry that has attached itself to this beverage. Vintners in America seem mostly concerned with making boutique varieties aimed at upscale buyers. Table wine is seen as something beneath American growers and thus we farm it out to countries like Chile, Australia, South Africa, and Spain. Table wine is definitely not something that Spanish producers consider to be a vastly inferior product, mainly because they know that the Spanish are too savvy and too demanding to pay a penny too much for a bottle of wine. We still see wine as some sort of luxury in America, something relegated for special occasions, like when your kid graduates from college or your 50th wedding anniversary. In Spain that special occasion may be called Monday lunch. Wine isn’t a luxury in Spain; it’s a basic right.

America’s fear of wine has also allowed restaurants to mark up bottle and glass prices way out of the reach of a lot of diners, something that Spanish people just wouldn’t tolerate. You wouldn’t pay four times the retail price for a bottle of cola in a restaurant so you shouldn’t be similarly gouged for a glass of modest wine. Corking wine bottles when it really isn’t necessary for most wines has also added to the intimidation factor and conspires to make a lot of people think that it is more complicated than it really needs to be. We should all be for simplifying wine, demystifying every aspect of its consumption, and making it more democratic. 
The first time I was served wine after moving to Valencia I drank it out of a stem-less low glass (pictured above), something of a tradition in these parts. It reminded me of the little wine cups I had known in Greece, another country like Spain that sees wine as a daily necessity since they practically invented it. I’m in favor of anything that goes against the pretentious traditions associated with wine, and most of them are pretentious and silly.

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