What is a "wine snob"?

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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,

What is the meaning of a “wine snob”? How can people profess to be one when none of us have the same tastes or smells? I understand the greater knowledge aspect of snobbery, but not taste or smell.

—Margaret M., Mt. Airy, Md.

Dear Margaret,

I’ve met all kinds of cultural snobs, including food, literature, film and music ones. And yes, I’ve rubbed elbows with some of the worst wine snobs. I think you’re right that their belief that other people are inferior to them starts with a knowledge base—they know more about a subject (or think they know more about a subject) than you.

I don’t think snobbery is about taste, but about how one discusses taste. Some people want to dictate style or show off their knowledge for their own gratification. Sometimes they like to be engaged in battle so they can really try to push their agenda. If the snob happens to be someone you care about, the best you can do is just smile and nod. If the snob is someone you don’t care for, the best you can do is also just smile and nod.

—Dr. Vinny

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