During my extensive career in the wine trade and during my wine jaunts in California, New York’s Finger Lakes, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Myanmar and Thailand, I have encountered the most gracious, humble and endearing people on this earth. People who are definitely not snobbish.
They may have started the winery from scratch using their wealth earned in another field or inherited the winery from their family. A number of them, especially in the United States, will start off by saying, “My family thinks I am crazy for doing this…”
Occasionally, a young staffer at the tasting counter may say, “This wine won an award at such and such wine competition,” but that is fine. Unless the competition was “rigged” that is trustworthy information for a wine consumer to know.
So wine educators, most sales people, wine owners, winemakers, vineyard personnel and just about everyone else in the wine trade are people one remembers long after the visit.
Living in Asia, however, represents a challenge. Although grape wine has been around for centuries and rice wine is ancient as well, there aren’t many wineries and wine information within the general public is limited.
I recall when I first arrived in Thailand, I started talking to an older Thai man about wine. He responded, “You know about wine. You must be rich.”
I thought I might have to visit an emergency room to recover after that comment, but it reflects the sad state of the wine business in Thailand. The amount of wine legally sold in Thailand is .4 per cent of the total. The over-taxation of wine also supports a healthy wine-smuggling business, wine snobbery and the concept that wine is only for the rich.
Wine snobbery is not exclusive to Thailand but is a global issue. It is something I have thought about for years.
Wine snobbery is something that I sometimes run into at wine tastings and wine dinners. Usually it takes only one such person to ruin a good evening by spouting his or her great knowledge about wine or ultra- expensive and rare bottles that they have consumed and that surely the people at this event have not tasted.
They purport to know everything about wine and by inference that the people around then know little. Most people go to such events in Bangkok to relax, meet old friends and learn about new wines in the marketplace. To wine snobs, appearance at such events is a platform or stage to perform their unprecedented knowledge.
My usual response is,“Nice talking with you,” and move discreetly away.
Here are other some other defence mechanisms that you might use:
- Always drink wine with good friends.
- If the wine snob doesn’t shut up, ask him or her questions about the wine being tasted.
- Do not try to argue. I always respond evasively, “Could be” or “perhaps.” The wine snob resents that as you are not totally in agreement.
- If a wine snob describes a wine with esoteric fruits or flower such as boysenberry or frangipani counter with a fruit or spice equally as scarce.
Don’t take wine snobs too seriously, remember that this is the Age of Narcissism.