I’m not a wine snob, but sometimes I think like one
August 20, 2019
The wine world can get information-heavy pretty quick. The encyclopaedias are thick; the barrels are deep and the snobbery can get ridiculous. However, being a wine snob is a thing of the past. Thankfully, those hoity-toity tides are turning with a new generation of ‘cork dorks’. From millennial somms, to sustainably focused producers, to a new wine trend almost every vintage (remember blue wine? Or how about the latest single-serve cans?) Essentially, it has become cool to SEEK knowledge. It’s not cool to be braggy about it.
However, there’s a time and a place to know your stuff. And if you’re in the hospitality industry that time is WHEN you’re at work and that place is AT WORK.
ALLOW ME TO EXPLAIN
Let me rewind to my birthday dinner a couple of weeks ago. My husband and kids treated me to dinner at the local golf course. This is a nice place, a private club in fact (of which we are not members), however, the restaurant is open to the public. We arrived early, because: kids. And we were treated to impeccable hospitality from a waitress whom we had almost entirely to ourselves.
SO WHERE DID IT TURN WRONG?
Because it was Asian Buffet night, we had to specifically ask to see a menu (because: kids – again). So I get that’s a minor inconvenience for our waitress to have to retrace her steps. Next, she asked to take our drink order. “Sure”, I say. “Can I see a wine list?” I can instantly tell she doesn’t want to retract her steps again so she confidently says, “I’ve actually memorized it, can I tell you what we have?” “Um, sure please!”
There’s a quick second of my internal jaw-dropping as I anticipate a slew of country’s, producers, blends and varietals.
Instead, I hear: “We have a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc and a Riesling for white. And for red we have Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and….and a Malbec I think.”
My heart plummets. Here comes my inner wine snob.
I NEED MORE INFO- LIKE, GALLONS OF IT
I’m struggling to find the words to write this without sounding like a complete bitch. But there’s a big difference between a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a massive divide between a California Chardonnay and a Chablis. Merlot and Cab Sauv – they could be from anywhere. LITERALLY, a plethora of flavours and compositions from all corners of the earth.
So I calmly ask, “Where’s your Cab from?” She says “we have two, one from Chile and one that’s slightly more expensive from California.” I opt for the California one (it is my birthday, after all) and am still left puzzled while she proudly walks away to get our drinks. I wanted to ask central coast or inland? Which producer? TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THE WINE I JUST ORDERED! I digress. I don’t expect wait staff to know all this information, I get that they have a ton of other things to worry about on the floor of a restaurant. But you could have just brought me the wine menu!
THEN WHAT HAPPENED?
I told me inner wine snob to get lost. I drank the wine happily. Ate my meal happily. And blew on my kids’ pizza happily until it was cool enough for them to eat.
In hindsight, I suppose I’m most let down about my expectations. We were in a private golf club and were presented our wine options like we were at a pub. I get that wait staff are not sommeliers. I understand that the selection of wine at an establishment rotates depending on what they can purchase on sale. However, I also blame the waitresses and her promise of being able to recite an entire wine list.
So while I will give her kudos for accurately recalling 6 varietals of wine, I must also acknowledge my own level of wine snobbery. I may not act like one – but sometimes I certainly think like one.