Why are people so fascinated/obsessed with wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Much like with sports, I don’t understand why people are so fascinated/obsessed with wine, and I can get turned off by fanatics. But I want to be able to celebrate and enjoy wine with others. What am I missing?

—Jake, Lith, Ill.

Dear Jake,

I think you could ask 100 wine lovers about their fascination and get 100 different explanations. But it’s my job to sit around and think about wine all day, so let me take a stab at this.

I think that wine is essentially about stories. There’s the story of how it tastes, determined by everything from what kind of grapes it’s made from to the conditions of harvest to all the many winemaking decisions that have gone into that bottle. The label can also tell a story, or there’s a story to the wine name, or how the winemaker got into the business. Wine comes from a place, and I think the best wines reflect that. There are also stories of history, art, trends, politics and marketing.

I’ve never seen another beverage be the jumping-off point for so many discussions. And I agree that sports inspires similar fervor, as does art, music and pop culture, among other things.

You may never feel that fascination about wine, and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with simply enjoying it as an occasional beverage. But if you’re a fan of anything—avant-garde jazz or Hitchcock films or video games—be patient with your friends for having their own thing. And sometimes being a friend means listening to each other wax poetic on occasion. Maybe you could even ask them to explain their love of wine to you.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

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