The Definitive Guide to Fauxing Wine Snobbery
aka how to out-snob the snob
1. The “Oh you’ve never had….” snob
Some bish tries to pull this on you, sideswipe them with a simple yet classic one-up maneuver.
In this particular case, I like to pull out the red sancerre card.
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Steps of service in one-upping a snob:
Snob: “Oh you’ve never had Dkaizfivnoeapiozejwia?”
You: *nod*, *smile*, *glance away like you see something more interesting than this stupid conversation*, “What about red Sancerre? That’s fabulous.”
Note: Under any circumstance, do not acknowledge the enemy and their petty suggestion as to what you should be drinking. They’re wrong. The end.
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FYI red Sancerre/Sancerre rouge is pinot noir (remember this fact with “Noir from the Loire”, it rhymes, easy peasy). Without getting into too much detail, Sancerre rouge is a light-bodied red that’s super drinkable, most often affordable and impossible to dislike. It’s like the Uniqlo of wine.
Oh, what about producers they (/you) ask? Well, in any area where I’m unfamiliar and making sweeping statements about grandiose subjects (i.e., wine suggestions à la minute, the Korea demilitarized zone, etc.) I always go with my buddy Kermit.
No, not that Kermit, my friend. I’m talking about the one, the only, Kermit Lynch.
I could write for eons about dear Kermie but for now I will merely say his selections are superior and should always be trusted. If it’s imported by Kermit, it’s sure to be a swell swig.
Some of Kermit’s red Sancerres include:
Continuer s’il vous plait.
2. The Pairing snob
White with fish, red with meat is one of the most rudimentary pairing rules people learn early on and for those who stick to this particularly binding rule, that person is likely to develop quite a pairing snob complex.
These people will most often try and trick you by getting you to flub on the stereotypichal-but-not-always-true primary pairing rule of white and red wines.
Public school sluts.
First of all, there are plenty of other way better pairing rules to go by like “If it grows together, it goes together” (i.e. suggesting pairing regional foods with regional wines).
Truth be told, pairing rules are not always what they appear
Thus, when you are put in such a predicament by a pairing snob – here are go-to wines for when someone decides they want to
wear drink white after labor day.
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Reds for traditionally white wine foods
- Pinot Noir – preferably California or Oregon but a red Burgundy could fly too as long as it’s not too funky
- Barbera d’Alba
- light-bodied Chianti – but choose wisely
Whites for traditionally red wine foods
- Gewurztraminer – one from Alsace would be preferred
- Sherry – oloroso or amontillado
- Pinot Gris
- Greco di Tufo – especially with pork
- Chardonnay – varying degrees of oakiness could work
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Although these suggestions are strictly based on the main protein you will be eating, there are more ways to circumvent this particular form of snob that we shall address at another time. (Preview suggestions: disregard the protein and focus on the sauce and/or protein preparation when it comes time to choose the wine pairing.)
3. The “This is corked” snob
True, it is said that perhaps 1 in 100 bottles of wine are corked.
You’ll know if a wine is corked aka tainted with TCA aka 2,4,6- trichloroanisole because it smells like (to varying degrees depending on the amount of contamination) wet cardboard that has been sitting in deep, dark, dank cellar for an extended period of time.
THEREFORE/HOWEVER whilst speaking in terms of snobbery, let’s say this person is totally WRONG. What drove them to this damning declaration of
Maybe their tastes just weren’t as sophisticated as they thought. Maybe their enthusiasm in ordering the most expensive wine on the menu (most likely that Grand Cru Red Burgundy bought on auction for a gazillion doll hairs) was met with a bottle whose flavor profile resembled an earth pie made by mixing 1 part fresh dirt, 2 parts pig’s blood (fresh not frozen), 1/8th horse manure, and a sprinkle of unicorn. Delicious, yet not for the inexperienced.
If this is the scenario you find yourself in, and the snob did indeed order this allegedly-corked-not-actually-corked wine, then the snob is most likely paying for it (no credit card roulette please). Thus, give a knowing eye to the Somm, acknowledging you know what they know, and move along with your meal.
Build a bridge, get over it, and let this snob suffer the tragic consequences of their actions.
(or how to order wine at a business dinner)
Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Wine is bottled poetry.” Just like poetry, a lot of wine sucks.
It’s too sweet.
It’s hard to swallow.
Learning to appreciate wine, like poetry, takes time and years of studied practice before the verses reveal themselves and one gains the ability to distinguish between Keats’-level Cabernets and Craigslist Missed Connections love sonnet-level Sangiovese.
However, if your schooling is over and your time studying is done, you may have to cheat in order to get ahead with wine. Ask almost any adult and they will tell you that at some point in their life they have had to make an impression through the medium of wine. None occasion is quite so deciding as the Business Dinner. As the Wall Street Journal (“Read it like you’d read the bible,” I distinctly remember my financial accounting professor once saying to me) states “Business people are judged by just about everything they do, and an ability to order wine crisply and well probably takes on far more significance than it should.”
If you think you entered Adulthood with your first sip of manishevitz at Shabbat, regrettably, you were duly misled: choosing the wine at a business dinner marks one’s true passing into that fabled phase of life. If the thought of choosing a wine makes you yearn for your timeworn seat at the kid’s table, have no fear. Below you’ll find a list of essential tips and tricks guaranteed to stick when tackling the three most sensitive topics regarding ordering wine in a group setting: price, pairings, and people.
Business dinners exist for one reason: to impress. If conspicuous consumption was not the aim, this business dinner would have been a business breakfast in a windowless conference room over half-stale croissants.
A trend in restaurant wine list pricing these days is declining mark-up. That is to say, the least expensive wines are marked up the most (sometimes up to four times wholesale), and the most expensive wines are marked up the least. When ordering for a business dinner, look for options in the 75th percentile of the wine list’s price spread. This percentile holds the wines that offer the most value in price and quality. These wines are just expensive enough and perfectly price appropriate for a business dinner on O.P.M. (Other People’s Money.)
Wine pairing is tricky. Unless you are at a restaurant ordering the tasting menu with optional wine pairing supplement, it is almost impossible to win the wine game using traditional pairing tactics (white with fish, red with meat, etc.) when ordering for a group.
Think about it this way: with every dish you eat, somewhere out there, there is the perfect wine from the perfect vineyard from the perfect year that will pair with that dish in such a way that you will be utterly speechless and transported out of reality and into the sublime…at least for a moment. If you are lucky enough to ever experience such a pairing, you will truly understand how food and wine is a synergistic union made to be experienced together.
However, right now, you must concentrate, ground yourself, and get creative.
In a business or group ordering scenario, the answer is not necessarily about creating pairing synergy where 1 (the wine) + 1 (the food) is greater than 2, but avoiding 1+1 equaling 0—or worse—negative.
The best way to avoid this miscalculation is what I call Wine by Committee. Simply choose three to four wines based on the guests’ preferences you gather during an informal table poll (cleverly disguised as a discussion and/or conversation, ideally) and utilize the sommelier to make the final decision. Sure, there may be a few obvious outliers at your table (Gewürztraminer lovers exist, allegedly) but those people can just order by the glass if it is really such a big deal to them.
With Wine by Committee, even if the food sucks and the deal doesn’t go through, people will still be drinking a wine they like and, as studies show, wine makes people happy – and more attractive!
The business dinner is a unique scenario that bridges the professional with the social, the “uptight” with the “get loose”. You may have the opportunity to dine with your future boss if you are up for a promotion, or if you are dining with your current boss, send subliminal messages that you want a raise. Now is a great opportunity to carpe diem and discuss the dinner’s wine options.
As previously stated, wine is sophistication. Sophistication is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Power is promotion.
Set the scene and play the part of Wine Expert. Ask to see the wine list and slowly peruse each section with pursed lips, intensely analyzing certain regions—even if you have no idea where Marche is in Italy or you thought Portugal was in South America. Sensuously caress its pages with your fingers; to a wine lover a well-curated list is something to be treasured and paid attention to.
NOTE: Keep in mind the two giveaways that will draw attention to your lack of knowledge:
1. Retail Recollection If you recognize a label you see frequently at a liquor store, just say no. In most cases, retail does not translate well to restaurants in terms of value and overall quality.
2. Pronunciation Problems Nothing is worse than someone who cannot pronounce the name of a wine right. (Or food for the matter. Hello go-no-chee (gnocchi) orderers, but I digress.)
The expectation that you are going to be able to pronounce every single wine correctly is—of course—not realistic. (But who wants to be realistic, really?) Even for the die-hard wine geek, if their preference is Italian, they may not know the accents and correct verbal emphasis on Greek Xinomavro or Hungarian Tokai.
In this situation, there are three options of attack:
- First choice: Order by the wine’s listed bin number.
- Second choice: If no bin number is provided, choose the one or two words you are confident in saying aloud plus the wine’s vintage. You are now passing the burden of responsibility in knowing the wine to the sommelier. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, it makes them look unknowledgeable and unfamiliar with their own list.
- Third choice: If neither A nor B succeed, get the sommelier as close to you as possible and just point to the wine on the page. Problem solved.
During business dinners, your choice in wine will inherently affect how you are perceived. And as the adage states—for better or for worse—perception is reality. If the reality of the situation is your clueless when it comes to wine, tackling the three P’s head-on will guarantee that your wine game is strong every time—perception be damned.
After a recent experience that left me shocked and awed in the world of restaurant wine service, I’ve decided to author a straightforward list of guidelines and expectations when it comes to wining and dining outside the home. By following these standard operating procedures the next time you and your friends try and get soigné out on the town, you can easily and tactfully filter the good from the bad, the Ko from the Lavo, in a matter of seconds.
THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO WINING & DINING DECORUM
#1 If the waiter specifies to the table next to you whether they would prefer the white or red Zinfandel. Leave. Immediately.
Don’t even pay the check because you may further risk contracting what is probably syphilis or Hepatitis D from these white zin drinking hill people.
#2 Also leave immediately if no vintages are listed on the wine list.
This is a sign that the establishment is buying off-vintages on the cheap or is too lazy to update their wine list. Too lazy to update their menus = too lazy to clean their kitchen = syphilis or Hepatitis D. The only time not listing vintages is de rigueur is when you are obv drinking Freixenet or some other NV (non-vintage) bubbles.
#3 Don’t be discouraged by the lack of proper stemware and accidentally mistake it as a sign of plebeian wine service.
Plenty of fabulous establishments (à la Pastis RIP) use simple Picardie glass tumblers to hold their juice – no matter what the average bottle price – as way of making everyone feel equal (LOL, good one Keith McNally) and welcome in their humble bistro.
These tumblers are a great option when casually entertaining at your (parent’s) weekend home
because they look positively chic regardless of the glass’s actual contents (totally not Fanta…) and especially are convenient when you have people drinking whites, reds, and rosés all at the same time. In the midst of a social gathering, no one wants to take the effort mid-fête to break out the fine stemware just because one guest wants to drink a red. Inevitably you will mistake the Riedel Red Burgundy glass for the Riedel New World Pinot Noir glass and have essentially committed social suicide in less than 30 seconds.
Tumblers enable you to avoid this situation entirely.
#4 Only order rosé in warm weather and always by the glass.
The only exception to this is when drinking during lunch, on the weekends, or you’re in St. Barths or Saint-Tropez. Also, no more than two people should be drinking rosé at your table unless you want to look cheap.
#5 If the wine doesn’t taste right, don’t be afraid to speak up.
Trust me: it’s not you, it’s them…most of the time. Regardless, even if you are totally wrong and look like an idiot, your service should still be hospitable and gracious.
#6 When ordering Champagne, ask for Grower Champagne.
Major labels like Veuve and Moët are way overpriced and not even that good. When ordering Champagne at a restaurant show your wine list prowess by ordering a beautiful bottle of Grower Champagne (also known as Farmer Fizz). Unlike the mass-produced méthode champenoise of the big guys, Grower Champagne is produced in much smaller quantities and is about expressing the terroir of Champagne and the passion of the winemaker. If that’s not available, go for a Crémant or Prosecco.
#7 If there isn’t a wine that looks good, order a Diet Coke.
The only exception to all of these rules is if you’re dining à la OPM (Other People’s Money). In that case, celebrate, get a little frisky dingo, and get ready for a night of pure, unadulterated, no-regrets, no-holds-barred fun!
Find out what your favorite wine says about you (according to me).
Shall we begin?
1. Merlot = I‘m a mom.
2. Malbec = You’re desperately trying to not become your mother (yet will eventually become her anyway).
3. New York Riesling = You’re a Cornell sorority gal who’s livin’ the life one themed mixer at a time. But it’s fine, because last week your favorite wine was Peach Andre, so you’re totally moving on up.
4. Jam Jar = I exclusively date guys from Tinder.
5. Champagne = Classy bitch.
6. “Champagne” ie California sparkling wine, Prosecco, Cava = Dates by resume. Marries by contract.
7. California Cab = I’m Beth’s mom. (This was an easy one, admittedly.)
- One of only three known photos in existence.
8. Orange wines = You’re such a hipster it hurts. How does it feel taking the L-train everyday to go to work? Good, right? Do you exit the Bedford Ave. stop with such pride that your aura of self righteousness and cool is palatable? Yeah, I though so.
9. Pinot Noir – New World = You are too afraid to admit to me and the world what you actually drink on the reg (it’s totally merlot) and/or you have no sense of adventure.
10. Pinot Noir – Old World ie Red Burgundy = Congratulations on your fine taste and appreciation for blood/horse shit/animal carcass/forest floor-flavored wine. We can be friends.
11. Screaming Eagle = So you’re on the list too? Feel free to message me for my personal information/I’m totally single.
12. Arbor Mist