Are you a Winus Ignoramus? Do wine connoisseurs make you feel insecure? I once felt the same way … until I discovered that NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING, especially when mouthing off about wine.
It’s shocking but true — most wine aficionados are faking it. Sure they toss around savvy sounding terms like oak, bouquet, finish, and jujubes. But trust me — they simply memorized a few words which they lob randomly, confident that they won’t be challenged. Why? Because they’re surrounded by fellow fakers.
You don’t believe me? Okay, here’s the proof. Several years ago some friends invited hubby Mark and me to a blind wine tasting party. These friends, who I sure hope won’t be reading this, were planning their wedding and wanted to find some great, but affordable wine.
The husband-to-be, who fancied himself a wine expert, had spent thousands of hours studying The Wine Spectator in his quality wine bargain quest, while the bride did what most brides do — everything else.
When we arrived for the tasting, we learned that the groom had narrowed his choice down to eight reds and eight whites, each touted as an “excellent buy” and each hovering at the high end of their wedding budget. Our job as two of a dozen guests was to taste and rank each wine “blind.” Then, through some elaborate coding process (I’m pretty sure the CIA was involved) our host would determine the identity of our favorites.
Being a dedicated Winus Ignoramus, I was embarrassed to be included in this group of wine savvy visitors. But I gamely participated, munching on dry crackers between each taste to cleanse my palate. And trying to follow the Wine Snobus Elitus-speak that kept buzzing around the room. “An amusing white.” “A charming red with just a hint of sassafras.” “A disappointing nose.” “Alluring eyes …” No wait, wrong party.
While everyone else sniffed corks and muttered pretentiously, I concentrated on trying to discern red from white. Finally, when each wine had been sipped and ranked, I sighed with relief … until I found out we had to repeat the tasting to double check the results.
The second round was finally over, and everyone anxiously awaited the verdict. Which red had prevailed? Which white had won?
And then a funny thing happened. (Well, funny to me.) With but one exception, everyone had been inconsistent in his preferences. Each person’s Wine List 1 was dramatically different from his Wine List 2. Everyone’s lists …. but mine.
I tried not to gloat. Okay, that’s a lie. A well-rounded tablespoon of gloating and a dash of strutting seemed about right. With just a soupçon of sass … afras.
So that’s when I learned that NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING … especially when it comes to wine. Which is why I’m no longer intimidated by leather-bound wine lists and patrons who pretend to understand them. I even feel free to make reservations in fancy restaurants … without reservation.
And on the appointed evening I stride in, my head and nose held high. Once seated, I give the wine list just a cursory glance. Who needs a list when you know your stuff?
“Le Boeuf Tartare, my dear sir,” I say, “and your finest applejack on the rocks.”
Just kidding — wine connoisseurs only drink applejack with fish.