It seems to me people are quick to label someone a wine snob, especially if that person is knowledgeable about it, but is that always the case? More importantly for me, am I a wine snob as well?
Being a true nerd I approached wine the same way I approach most of my interests – by studying them in depth until I almost drown in them. It was therefore no wonder I ended up being way more knowledgeable and particular when it comes to wine than most of my friends which rapidly got me branded a „wine snob“ in my circle. For most part it was just a joke in good spirit (pardon the pun), but it got me thinking.
Snobbery in the world of wine enthusiasts is very easy to encounter. Certain degree of it I believe is basically inevitable for anyone seriously interested in wine or professionally tied to rating, selling, or buying wine. However, most of it is completely unnecessary and sometimes it does seem to be used by people who lack social skills or positive character traits and just want to make themselves appear more important. By now I have met many people in the world of wine that are amazing professionals: sommeliers, wine makers, distributors, writers, and so on. Most of them will agree, on an individual level, the most important thing is your personal taste. If you find a wine you like, drink it, enjoy it and don’t be ashamed for liking it. Regardless of the price or someone else’s take on it. On the other hand, of course not all wines are the same quality, nor does the wine you like suddenly become better just because you like it. There are objective standards and specifications of a wine that make it higher or lower quality and if you are going to go into an argument with a knowledgeable wine expert, then expect him/her to be able to argument his/her case. I always compare wine to music or movies. Just because you really like the new action flick about bodybuilders turned martial arts specialists saving contestants at a bikini modelling show from genetically modified barracudas, doesn’t mean that particular movie is one of the great works of cinema. To claim that it is would mean to put down truly great moviemakers, cinematographers, writers, and actors, all in an attempt to save you from hurt feelings. As you already guessed, I don’t have many friends.
I don’t consider myself a wine snob. Shaming people because of their wine (or food or movies or music) preferences is a characteristic of a petty individual. However, I do like good quality wine and I will rather go without than to drink wine I don’t like. There’s a certain respect I feel towards anything that was created with plenty of knowledge or effort. I also enjoy analysing interesting wines and discussing them at length with fellow wine nerds. If all that makes me a snob in someone’s eyes, then so be it.