There are oenophiles, wine snobs and wine lovers.
Believe it or not, they are not the same thing.
An oenophile is an epicure of wine — always searching out the arcane and academic in vinified circles. They possess extensive knowledge of wines and wine making and approach it in an almost scholarly way. Most, but not all Master Sommeliers (designated MS in the trades) are oenophiles, as are all Masters of Wine (MW). True oenophiles can range from the boorishly pedantic to smashing good company, and are not to be trifled with. No matter what their personalities, they deserve your respect.
Sample oenophile quote: Volatile phenols and fatty acids are the key molecules responsible for the olfactory defects in this wine — a salient, if somewhat subordinate fact that will cause me to lose sleep tonight.
Wine snobs, on the other hand — an inordinate number of whom are doctors, lawyers or nouveau riche businessmen — are usually insufferable. They buy labels and point scores (and love to talk about labels and point scores), and tend to treat wine like a game of trivial pursuit. In America, they have inordinate fondness for California cabs.
Sample wine snob quote: It says here it has peach melba, strawberry shortcake, pea gravel and cedar chips on the nose, with lingering hints of bread dough, matsutake mushrooms, sweaty saddle, and dry Indiana limestone on the mid-palate….but the Spectator gave it a 91…so I’ll take the Opus One.
Wine lovers eschew erudition and egoism for enjoyment. Descriptors don’t roll off their tongues and ostentation is an effrontery to them. They love the taste of different wines of all kinds and revel in the interesting over the obvious. A wine lover would rather talk and taste than buy and brag.
Sample wine lovers quotes:
This shit is great!
Ay dios mio! Grab a glass, you’ve gotta taste this!
Scott Abramowitz is a wine lover. Like all true aficionados of the vinified grape, he loves to sip and ponder, but mostly he likes to share. (Wine snobs will share, but only with an appropriate audience. Wine lovers share with everyone because they want everyone to enjoy wine.)
The 2009 Emilio Rojo – Ribeiro he brought to town for us to taste was the perfect example of a wine lover’s wine. Obscure (only 50 cases make it to this country), made from grapes no one has heard of or can spell (Treixadura, Lado and Loureiro anyone?), difficult to catagorize (like a floral, spicy, flinty Albarino with hints of herbaceous Sauv Blanc and a haunting, slightly funky finish), and incredibly rich in the mouth and intense for a moderately priced ($56) wine.
It went superbly with a plate of house-made salumi at Carnevino…so superbly, in fact, we bemoaned that we couldn’t have a bottle with us the next time we craved munching on their mortadella.
Molto grazie for the taste Scott!
Wine lovers like you make wine snobs a little more bearable.