What kind of wine drinker are you?
To me there are three types of wine drinkers: the wine drinker, the wine snob, and the wine geek. Wine drinkers are the largest of the three groups, and they are the most likely to try a new wine bar, buy a glass of South African chenin blanc at a restaurant, or ask for help at the wine shop. Here's a breakdown of how the average wine drinker compares to the snob and the geek, in a post meant for comments. I also recommend five wines for the true wine geek.
John Glas Serious wine geek wines
The wine snob
From "Sideways": Wine geek or wine snob?
The Webster's definition of a snob is "one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste; one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior." Wine snobs certainly have an air about them, but too many lack basic wine knowledge. The most offensive tend to drink labels such as Silver Oak, Opus One, and Cakebread, while having almost zero knowledge of producers from Bordeaux and Burgundy.
A true wine geek will seek out better options at a quarter of the price. Many wine snobs think the more they spend on a bottle, the better it is, and they will be the ones buying the 2000 Opus One off the steakhouse wine list to impress their friends. They also may drink out of thick stemware, hold the wine glass by the bowl, and drink their overpriced dhardonnay too cold (serving temperature is a future post). Reading wine books is not for wine snobs, as they think they know everything about wine. If Robert Parker or Wine Spectator give a big score to a wine, the snob will run out and buy a case without trying the wine first. A friend made a good point about wine snobs:They will always ensure that people inexperienced about wine stay that way.
Don't assume all wine snobs drink expensive wine. At a recent tasting, one lower-end wine consumer refused my go-to riesling, the 2008 Dr. Loosen "Dr. L" Riesling, saying, "I don't drink German wines. They are too sweet!" Of course, she didn't follow the tasting process and continued to slam her Cavit Pinot Grigio.
The wine geek
Enough about the downers in the wine world. Let's focus on a phrase that should be embraced by all wine drinkers: the "wine geek." While wine geeks automatically have some snob in them (including me), we are proud to be open-minded, knowledge-sharing, tasting-note-writing wine geeks. We will try anything, even if it is to break down the flaws of mass-produced, unbalanced wine. We read books, blog on the internet's wine chat rooms, join a wine club, love screw caps for everyday wine, will drive across town for a good wine sale, and realize how little we truly know about the complex subject of wine. With vintages changing, new regions popping up, and thousands of new wine producers yearly, how would you know it all?
A wine geek understands that great wine is produced in all major wine regions of the world, including countries such as Austria, Australia, Argentina, Chile, and Australia. There is more to the wine world than first-growth Bordeaux, California cult wines, and overpriced Grand Crus from Burgundy.
One of my goals as a wine educator is to convert more individuals into the geek category from the wine drinker category. By not spending any more money, you will find certain recommendations exceed what you are currently drinking in terms of quality and pleasure.
Here are five "wine geek" selections from the current saleHaskell's, going on now at all stores through September 6.
2009 Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand) $12.99
This wine is consistent year after year, and the '09 vintage is no exception. Wine geeks will drink name-brand wines that deliver quality. (I'm a huge fan of Columbia Crest.) Mango, grapefruit, floral, and grass make up this crisp and refreshing wine made for summer. Try it with grilled shrimp. 89 points
2007 Vina Robles Red4 Huerhuero Paso Robles (California) $10.99
A blend of petite sirah, syrah, tannat, and touriga. Wine geeks and drinkers will enjoy this fruit-forward wine, which features cherry, plums, minerals, and spices. Petite sirah is a solid grape variety that does really well in California 88 points
2006 Dobbes Assemblage Rogue Valley (Oregon) $15
This is a buy-one, get-one, in which you buy two for the price of one $15 bottle. Trust me: For $30 you will want two of these wines, which is a candidate for best wine under $20 for 2010. Smoke, cedar, black pepper, and blackberries on the nose and palate. Medium finish and good concentration. Smoke some ribs! 92 points
2007 Vignerons de Caractere Vacqueyras Seigneur de Fontimple (Rhone) $14.99
Wine geeks are used to long and confusing titles from France. The wine is from the Rhone, and the appellation is Vacqueyras. This grenache-based wine shows a little funk on the nose along with floral and raspberries. Nice and balanced with a medium finish. 89 points
2007 Domaine Durieu Chateauneuf-du-Pape Lucile Avril (Rhone) $49.99
Mostly grenache with syrah and mourvedre. The wine has a little CDP funk along with raspberries, licorice, smoke, stones, and earth. Medium finish and a decade of aging for the true wine geek. 94 points
What group are you in? I would love to here your comments.