Wine Is Just So High School

The social structure of the wine world plays out like a class reunion
Jan 9, 2013

The wine world reminds me of high school sometimes. The cast of characters and social structure is really not all that different. Just consider:

The Know-It-Alls: They were the first to raise their hands in class. Their knowledge of wine is impressive but they see it as a competitive sport, so it's not always fun to be around them, unless you're also a Know-It-All.

The Chest Thumpers: Here we find the braggers and the jocks. Everything about wine to them is bigger than life. "Ooo! Ooo! Look what I'm drinking!" They often complain they're on too many mailing lists, and of course their wine cellars are amply stocked with magnums and imperials.

The Blue Bloods: The old money. The trust-fund babies. Wine has been a part of their life since birth and they make it seem so effortless and perfect. It's OK to envy them, particularly their cellars of first-growth Bordeaux from their birth years: 1961, 1982 or 1989, of course, and fully stocked by Daddy.

The Glitterati: The prom queens and kings. It's all about the show. They know just enough about wine to order what's fashionable and have recently switched from Cristal back to Dom Pérignon.

The Eccentrics: A subset of the geeks and freaks. Popularity makes them nauseous. Normal is passé and mind-numbing. They haven't eaten a Big Mac since eighth grade. They try so hard not to be a cliché that they have become their own cliché. They're suspicious of any wine that actually tastes good. They love natural wines and orange wines. They're biking through Jura this spring.

The Party People: The stoners and keg-standers back in school. They may have transitioned to wine in adulthood but secretly it's still mostly about the buzz.

The Serious Students: Many wine drinkers will see themselves in this group. They're passionate about wine but it doesn't consume them. They're savvy enough to know that they share some of the characteristics of the Eccentrics, the Chest Thumpers or any other group, but they're grounded enough to know not to cross the line ... too often, anyway.

The Masses: All the rest of those wonderful wine consumers who just sip and enjoy and never talk about wine when they're drinking it.

OK, so that was a fun little exercise, of course, but where do you fall? Are you honest enough to admit the truth? You might see yourself in more than one group. I certainly am. What group did I leave out?

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