Avoiding Wine Embarrassment

By Gus Clemens

Those of us who prefer wine imagine we are superior to people who enjoy spirits or beer.

It does not reflect well on us, but it has been true since Greeks spread wine culture seven millennia ago. The disposition to be obnoxious about our chosen libation is part of our cultural DNA.

Given our invidious predilection, strive to avoid wine embarrassment. Few people are more pathetic than fops who fumble fine points of their snobbery. Thus, hints on avoiding wine faux pas:

•  All that is bubbly is not Champagne. Most bubbly wines are not Champagne. Champagne is sparkling wine produced in Champagne region of France using strictly prescribed techniques and sold at nose-bleed prices. Erase Champagne from your vocabulary, even when wine really is Champagne. “Sparkling” sounds more 21st century anyway and applies to any wine with bubbles.
•  Never say you prefer “dry red wines.” Almost every red wine is dry, and reds that are not dry are abominations unto God. When red wine tastes sweet, the sensation likely is caused by super-ripe fruit, fooling your palate. If you dislike such wines, simply say: “I appreciate less fruit-forward efforts.”
•  Don’t judge wine by color. Don’t say: “I will never drink rosé” or “I abhor whites.”Maybe you only enjoy red. Fair enough. That means you have not enjoyed delicious Tavel (rosé) from southern Rhône or Pouilly-Fuissé (chardonnay) from Burgundy. You would be a better person if you experimented in the refulgent rainbow of wine delights, but if you insist to resist, don’t broadcast your existential failure.
•  Don’t judge wine by price. Yes, there is tangental correlation between price and quality, but plenty of plonk is priced high, plenty of wonderful is affordable. Judge wine by pleasure it provides. In today’s tsunami of wine, there is a flood of value-focused delights. Your palate, not your pocketbook, matters.
•  Don’t sniff the cork. It tells you nothing about the wine, but it tells others you are a philistine.
•  Don’t comment about a wine’s “legs.” Wine legs have no connection to quality. Praise the wine server’s physique if you feel compelled to comment on anatomy.
•  Don’t disdain merlot. “Sideways” made merlot passé and pinot noir the next big thing. That was a decade ago; the Zeitgeist has moved on. Merlot can be magnificent, no matter what Miles Raymond (a fictional character, by the way) asserts. Don’t base your taste on old movies.

Last round: When I bring you a mimosa to start the day, I anticipate compliments, not “forget whatever is on your mind, mister.”

Email Gus Clemens at <a href=”mailto:wine@cwadv.com”>wine@cwadv.com</a>.
Follow his tasting notes on Twitter @gusclemens