5 Ways to Tell If You’re Wine Smart or a Wine Snob

December 12, 2018 by Holly Verbeck

There’s nothing wrong with loving good wine, and there’s great value in being a collector of it, too. But my experience is most individuals who think they are collectors are in actuality enthusiasts who get mistaken for being snobs. And those of us who simply enjoy wine are about as skilled selecting a good bottle as are women who pick their favorite football team based on the color of their uniforms (That would be me. Go Steelers!). For those of us who like to consume wine that tastes good rather than just making us look good in front of others, here are a few pages taken from the playbooks of wine smart people, wine collectors, and the misguided wine snob.

Disclaimer #1: I don’t mean to offend those of you who love wine. (My particular inclination is for an aperitif at a formal dinner, a chilled white wine while sitting in the sand at Lake Tahoe, and delicious ice wine, Muscat or port (all with dessert, of course). I admit I’m not sophisticated about wine and I’m also not ashamed to say I love this festive, summer frose recipe!

Disclaimer #2: This article plays on alliteration is not intended to offend anyone. (Although, it is most likely to offend you if you consider yourself wine smart but in fact you’re a wine snob. Sorry in advance.)

Here’s a quick fact versus fiction list to uncover your true wine personality. Are you wine smart or a wine snob? Read on…

1. Fiction: Wine snobs think you always get what you pay for with expensive wine.

Fact: During blind tastings conducted in independent studies show that wine smart drinkers actually prefer wines that aren’t at the top of the wine list but are at the price range of $15-25 per bottle!

2. Fiction: Wine snobs think their cellar should be filled with collectible bottles with labels featuring a famous classic chateaux.

Fact: Wine collectors know it would be a waste of money to DRINK those bottles! It’s better to look beyond the labels and brands for an independent winemaker with a label that tells a story and shares their love of the wine.

3. Fiction: Wine snobs stick to specific brands and regions to get the most enjoyment out of their wine.

Fact: Yes, wine collectors do this. But if you and your guests want to get the greatest enjoyment out of what you actually drink get off the beaten path and find smaller, independent vineyards. You’ll save a lot of money and have a lot of good conversation about your selection, too!

4. Fiction: Wine smart people can get great wines at a discount.

Fact: Take a hint from the wine snobs on this one. It’s true there are quality wines in the grocer’s isle but they’re right to be wary, especially about sales. Choosing wines that are fairly priced throughout the year is a great way to know you’re sure to get a good deal.

5. Fiction: Wine snobs can never get a good bottle of wine for under $40

Fact: The sweet spot for wine begins at around $15. Pay any less and you’re getting pennies’ worth of wine because the rest covers the cost of branding, packaging and taxes. Compare that to the price point of $15-25 where you'll get 10x the quality of wine in every bottle. Above that, the quality increases only incrementally, so you get a choice: be wine smart and get a really good quality bottle for a reasonable price, or be a wine snob and show off your ability to spend excessively for a fancy label (Fist pump for my favorite uniforms, go Steelers!)

I suggest you spend money on wines that taste great to you. To be wine smart you need only know about great grapes and great winemakers. To be wine happy you only need to drink what tastes good. If you want white wine with your beef entrée and that makes you happy, “Hell be damned” I say. After more than 30 years as a personal chef and private chef (yep, there’s a difference…see my blog) Chef Grog likes to say “Life is short. Eat [and drink] what makes you happy!”

Funny Two-Sentence, Name-Dropping Story:

While a personal chef for Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas, chef Grog would often use the half-used bottles of wine (which were unfit to put on the table once opened) to flavor the daily stew cooked to feed the Donahue's golden retrievers. One day he brought the one such (expensive) bottle back to the apartment and I tried it side-by-side with a cheaper bottle (the kind we could afford) and for the first time I could tell the difference between really good and really average wine. Thanks be to those golden retrievers, I'm now wine SMART!

Our Lake Tahoe private chefs range from being conversant in wines to the most highly trained in pairing varietals with menus. Whatever your preference or price point, it’s our pleasure to create meals and pairings that make you wine happy. Just call us at 530-582-4882, text us at 530-414-23439, or start your next reservation here for in-home dining with your private chef.

Relax and Enjoy. We are professional, polished, and discreet.