Say it ain’t so, Joe, say it ain’t so. After decades of being a proud non-fussed imbiber and glugger of wine – any wine – and an unphased partaker in wine culture, there are signs that I am, too, showing certain traits that others might identify as being characteristic of homo sapiens vino snobbium, aka the dreaded wine snob. Against this, I have fought valiantly. By showing an open and non-opinionated disposition to any wine coming my way. By maintaining the habits and manners of the common man instead of breathing the rarified air sustaining the lofty residents at the top-end of the wine spectrum. A recent bout of introspection, however, showed red flags. The talons of wine snobbery have descended, the grip is being felt. For I am showing the following symptoms:
- I took a selfie of myself sniffing a glass of Simonsberg Cabernet Sauvignon. No, it was not the wine’s fault. There was just this overwhelming urge to document my manner of engaging with the wine. A desire to show the rest of the world that I can hold a wine glass decently and at the correct tilt, with an admirable studious look as I seductively engage with the liquid. Sure, vanity was involved as the scene looked pretty cool. But most of all the selfie was driven by a wish to let the rest of society know that I am not just a normal plebian wine drinker, but a serious student, worshipper and disciple thereof. At one with the liquid, a relationship earned and not by many deserved. Snob factor: 96/100.
- The fact that I admit to taking my own stemware to certain restaurants is a dead giveaway, from the word go. The word “stemware” says is all. No glass, white wine glass, red wine glass or wine glass. Glasses are for beer or whisky or organic mineral water. Wine snobs drink from “stemware”. Sure, this is like purporting a dog-leash to be a “canine restraining device” or a Covid vaccine is “China generated virus prophylactic”. But yes, when visiting eateries who still pour wine into Paris goblets with which – if forcefully thrown – one can cause serious concussion in a hard-headed wildebeest, I prefer to lug along a few carefully polished pieces of stemware. These not only do justice to the aromatic and flavour offerings of the wines, but look damn cool on the table. And also let others know that he is, well, a wine person, aka wine snob. Factor 90/100.
- French words are finding their way into my wine vocabulary, and this has to be stopped. Stirring the lees after wine has fermented is pretty self-explanatory, but now I only think “battonage”. The term “grape variety” is simple enough, however, “cépage” is creeping into my lexicon, leading to confused looks from those I am requesting to know what grape is planted out back. And of course, no talk of Cap Classique or Champagne is complete without throwing in terms such as “remuage” and “tirage” to the more familiar words of “cuvée” and “disgorgement”, which even the plebs know of. The strength of the snob factor for this French indulgence depends on the pretentiousness of the pronunciation, but usually hovers around 91/100.
- I’m beginning to laugh off young wines. One of the more common terms employed by the wine snob is “infanticide”, referring to some dark, mysterious abuse one is committing when daring to drink a wine which has, according to the self-determined rules of said wine snob, not undergone the necessary aging process. A Burgundy which has been opened without having been allowed to mature for 15 years in the bottle is, according to the wine snob, laughably young. And opening a Bordeaux 2nd growth or Kanonkop Paul Sauer from a vintage later than 2005 is assured to attract stares of disdain and mockery. The snob factor here is heightened by the stupidity thereof, as the statement of a wine being “far too young” is not backed up by any evidence. As how would you know if you have not tried it? Snob factor for infanticide obsession, thus 98/100.
- Let people know you are one of the fortunate few to receive “allocations”. For this, let everybody once and for all realise that you be no mere mortal when it comes to procuring wine. You walking aisles of Woolworths of Pick ‘n Pay liquor stores? Never – buying socks from Ackermans and cookery utensils from At Home would be almost as bad. Nor does the wine snob swing by a winery to stand alongside mortal wine loving tasters and purchasers to place an order. No, the true aficionado, the expert, the prophet of the vinous realm, he or she applies for winery allocations. Not necessarily because the wines are that much better than those labels found at supermarkets or in wine stores. But just by being given the privilege of receiving a wine or two that the relevant producer has deemed to apparently be rare enough to sell in limited volumes to discerning buyers, one cements one’s status as a paranormal walker of the wine earth. A special one. Snob factor year, 93/100.
With some symptoms showing, advice on how to rid them shall be welcomed. Otherwise, bring on the next vaccine.
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