Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
People call me a wine snob because I get upset at people who claim to be wine lovers but really only drink sweet wines. The truth of the matter is, I don't mind if you're into sweet wine, just don't tell me you love wine because, honestly, you more likely just enjoy sweet alcohol. I grew up in a wine family, and it bothers me because I get my hopes up that I have something in common with someone when I actually don't. Am I being rude?
—Wine Snob, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Dear Wine Snob,
Kind of? Look, I get what you’re saying about someone telling you they love wine, and then you want to geek out with them. But you can’t because you realize that your definition of “wine” is different than theirs. Like how I love movies and so does my friend. But they see romantic comedies and I’m more of an action fan. We both love the same activity, but in very different ways. It’s hard to compare notes.
I don’t agree that fans of sweeter wines are only in it for the alcohol. Some of the world's most highly revered wines are sweet, like the dessert wines of Bordeaux's Sauternes region, or Germany's late-harvest Rieslings, or Hungarian Tokaji … there's a long list of incredible dessert wines out there.
And some of us started drinking cheap, sweet stuff and then graduated to more serious drier wines down the line. In fact, that’s a tack you might try. See if you can introduce them to some of your favorites and see if they like them. Try to explain what makes a wine good to you. And if they offer you a taste of theirs, be gracious and polite and take a sip. Don’t make a face.
Finally, I should point out that when it comes to wine drinking, the premium wines you drink are in the minority of the wines that are consumed in the U.S. Most wines sold here are on the sweet and simple side and cost less than $10—and I think that’s OK. I want wine to be accessible and part of our culture. I love that I can turn on the television and regularly see characters holding a glass of wine. As much as I’d like to share my passion with everyone I know, I don’t feel a need to dictate style. There are styles to appeal to every palate. It would be boring if we all had the same thing in our glass.