This is a defense of being a wine snob—a wine snob in the good sense.
A good wine snob has more wine knowledge than the average person, but just as important they have a desire to make people happy while talking about wine.
The outstanding trait of a good wine snob is you don’t tell others their wine choices are wrong or worthy of scorn. If someone asks you for wine advice, they probably do so because they believe you know more about wine than they do and they want help in developing their appreciation of wine. They are not asking you to make them feel insecure and inadequate.
A key here is to understand the other person’s taste preferences. Your first job is to listen to what they enjoy and build upon that to expand their palate. You don’t have to enjoy the same wines they do, but you do have to respect their palate. When they say they enjoy sweet wines, your job is to suggest quality sweet wines, not roll your eyes.
Going down in price is a nice play when you make a recommendation. A major factor in winophobia is fear of buying an expensive bottle and not liking it. If they like sweet, there are quality moscatos that are both sweet and bargains. Recommend one of them.
When they tell you they don’t like something, believe them. Don’t ask them to run before they are comfortable walking. Let your friend set the pace of their wine adventure. It probably took years for you to develop and widen your palate, in fact you likely are still developing and widening your own palate today. The journey is a key joy of wine.
When a friend asks you for wine help, the way to be a good wine snob is to be a good friend.
• Becker Vineyards Malbec 2014: Fruity, very simple tannins, some balance, certainly not an embarrassment. $12-16 Link to my review
• McBride Sisters Collection Chardonnay Central Coast 2016: Easy drinker that people who have been turned off by over-done chardonnay should enjoy. $12-17 Link to my review
• Charles Smith Boom Boom! Syrah Washington State 2016: Drinkers put off by aggressive reds will have no problem with this. $16-18 Link to my review
• Montinore Estate Almost Dry Riesling Willamette Valley 2014: Bright, refreshing, loaded with delicious flavors, and—as label promises—just almost sweet. $16-20 Link to my review
Last round: Wine. Because you do not build lifelong friendships with garden salads.