Although I seem to recall once knowing something about wine, I have forgotten whatever it was from drinking too much of it. I vaguely recall that “red” wines tend to be reddish in color, while “white” wines are–paradoxically–yellow. Why they don’t call them “yellow” wines is a mystery to me.
What I recall better than long-lost principles of the anatomy of wine–the legs, the nose, the head (no, wait, that’s beer)–are the many fine wine snobs I have encountered over the two score and five years of legal drinking I’ve indulged in. Prior to that time, my intake of the stuff was limited to Boone’s Farm Apple Wine and dandelion wine made–inexplicably–by my tea-totalling mother.
Wine snobs brighten your evening by making you feel as if you don’t know as much as they do, don’t make as much as they do–bottom line, that you are a slug drowning in a hubcap full of beer while they’re butterflies, flitting from one beautiful experience to another, appreciating what they drink while you just suck down one goddamn brewski after another.
The proper way to deal with wine snobs is to use the force of their own expertise against them, in much the same manner that practitioners of the Korean martial arts form jiu-jitsu are taught to overcome their adversary by redirecting the force of an attack into the French onion dip. I mixed my metaphors there for a second, but I think you get the picture.
A wine snob’s metier or scaramouche will change depending on whether he is married or single. If single, the wine snob tries to attract the most beautiful and sophisticated women in the group you’re with by creating an implied but invidious comparison with you; he can pronounce French words with fluency, you wear a St. Louis Blues jersey and ask stupid questions such as “Why are the Montreal Canadiens called the ‘Habs’?”
If married, the wine snob practices a form of one-upsmanship by exposing you to vintages you can’t afford, all the while slowing down your consumption of the same. If these wines are so freaking good, you ask yourself, why do we keep spitting them out?
The wine snob in his home operates from a position of strength, like a kindergarten teacher who knows what all the mysterious words in “See Spot Run!” mean. In fact, the tone of the wine snob at his dinner table is not unlike that of Miss Frances, your kindergarten teacher, when he asks everyone to take a stab at describing the taste of a mystery wine whose label he has concealed.
As the guests swirl the wine in their mouths, slip a 1/8″ (outside diameter) washer under your tongue in preparation for your turn:
1st WOMAN: Hmm . . . buttery.
1st MAN: I’d say more–margariney.
2nd WOMAN: Parsley, sage . . .
2nd MAN: . . . rosemary, thyme.
YOUR WIFE: I’d say oaky–or maybe elmy.
YOU: It hath thort of a metallic tathe.
HOST: You really think so? No one else had that reaction . . .
YOU: (spitting out washer) Oh my God! This wine is from Tru-Value Hardware!
Another popular wine snob gambit is to present a selection of wines and ask guests to guess the price of each. By this method, your host shows he is un homme du people (a regular guy) who can appreciate cheap vin ordinaire, but who also has the heavy-duty stuff in his cellar in case a nuclear attack ever prevented him from making it to the liquor store before Kim Jong-un gets jiggy. Two glasses are placed in front of each diner, and the speculation begins:
WOMAN: I’d say . . . the one on the left is more expensive.
MAN: Hmm—I guess I’d agree.
HOST: (Gloating at the success of his ruse) Nope–the one on the right costs $20 more a bottle!
YOU: (Incredulous) You mean the one on the left is free?
Of course, to remain in your wine snob’s good graces, it is necessary that you bring him a bottle when you’re invited to dinner. How do you avoid embarrassment when you show up with one of your three-for-ten-dollars bin end specials? He’s likely to react as you do when your cat shows up at the back door with a dead chipmunk in its mouth.
The trick is not to aim higher, but lower. Go to your local liquor store dressed in a torn t-shirt, seed company “gimme” cap and blue jeans and offer to haul the trash away. There will undoubtedly be one or more spoiled bottles among the Bud Light promotional displays. Take the one whose cork is covered by mold, tie a ribbon around the neck and present it to your host upon arrival.
HOST: Gee, thanks! A 2012 Chateau d’Ozark Yquem! Let’s try it!
YOU: Actually, my “better half” took the back roads on the way over–I think its nose may have been bruised bouncing around in the back seat.
HOST: You’re probably right.
YOU: You may want to check your health insurance and see what the co-pay would be to get it fixed.
Just one bad bottle in his basement wine cellar can drag his collection down to your level.