Are you a wine snob? 8 Red flags to spot

Wednesday, 25 October, 2023
Wine Enthusiast, Kelly Magyarics
From peppering every conversation with industry jargon to over-relying on a decanter, wine snobbery can take on many forms.

You may have witnessed a snob in action: An overzealous diner incessantly interrupting a sommelier in a restaurant, perhaps, or a winery guest wine-splaining in the tasting room. While being genuinely enthusiastic, curious and knowledgeable is encouraged, wine snobs make it all about them.

Worried you’re being a bit much yourself? Here are eight red flags to recognize (and avoid).

Red flag #1: You posture with insider questions

Asking the sommelier during a pairing dinner, “What’s the malo on this wine?” or inquiring about grapes’ Brix levels may come from a place of true curiosity—or from a need to prove you’re in the know. Authentic, enthusiastic questions are great; just know your audience and adjust accordingly.

“Using words that everyone understands is tremendous,” believes Samantha McCrimmon, chief sommelier and wine director of L’Avant-Garde in Washington, D.C. “It makes it relatable to those who aren’t in the industry, but just love good juice.”

Red flag #2: You scoff at the price tag without factoring in the work behind it

Declaring that a wine is overrated based on its price alone is gauche at best and ignorant at worst. Many factors go into price setting, including yields, total production and the cost of oak barrels. Small, independent producers often face other costs due to economies of scale—which for many wine professionals is all the more reason to support them.

“I have a duty to highlight producers who are small and family-owned and operated,” says Joe Crossan, the beverage director and sommelier at Jones Oyster Company in Greenville, South Carolina. “These wines are delicious, but also it makes a difference in these people’s lives that you’re supporting them.”

Red flag #3: You order the most expensive wine on the menu because it’s “the best”

Equally snobbish is thinking a high price tag is the ultimate indicator of quality. By all means, order a pricey bottle if you’re familiar with the producer or region and think it’s worth the cost.

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