The Wine Writer In Snobbery Recovery


January 31, 2013

I take on different personas when I’m wearing my whiskey writer hat and wine writer hat. As a whiskey writer, I’ve not found many whiskeys I hate and never snob-up the place. I may not care for a whiskey, but I can understand the product’s place. For example, I personally do not prefer the flood of flavored whiskey, but I applaud the brands for reaching new markets. As a wine writer, I’m here to admit I was once a big, fat jerk, dismissing all that was not from Italy or France.

Wine people swirl glasses, sniff them, snarl at them and criticize the liquid to no end. We are labeled as pretentious and rude. We dismiss wine that does not represent the grape’s flavor profile. A Malbec wine should be dark, and Merlot shouldn’t be sweet. These are minor principles that keep us from buying Yellow Tail and Two Buck Chuck. Why waste your palate on wine not worth a flip?

Imagine, this wine snob’s horror when his wife dragged him to the Kentucky Wine Festival in 2008. Every wine tasted closer to grape juice than the grape portrayed. At wine tastings, I typically spit. But, not a single winemaker carried a spitter for snob types like me. One lady wanted to jump across the wine tasting platform and smack me when I stuck my head outside the tent and spit.

Back then, I carried my snobbery all over my face. Oh, sure, I talked a big talk about value wines—and I believe in $15 wines—but truth was, I was an Old World snob. When a dear friend brought his father’s homemade elderberry wine as a gift, I tasted it, but never gave the wine a real shot.

Then, I met a master sommelier who broke all the rules about wine. He paired lighter wines with juicy steaks and reds with oysters. He loved finding the subtleties in often-dismissed wines. Just listening him  made me realize that in my pursuit to drink great wines, I became a jerk whose snarled nose never gave good wines a chance.

Since then, I’ve been in Wine Snobbery Recovery and have found beauty in berry wines, sweet wines and even sipped the occasional Muscat for dessert. I’ve written about Muscat and Kentucky berry wines. I drink sweeter spirits, and I love Ports, so why can’t I find a place for these berry wines?

I still find myself not liking wines. That will never change. I can’t write about wine if I think everything is good; this job requires discerning palates. But, I am now experimental vs. stuck in my old snobbery ways.

Without this new attitude, I never would have picked up a bottle of Kentucky blackberry wine. And now, I can’t imagine my life without it.