How to enjoy wine on your own terms — beliefs we hold dear at Reverse Wine Snob.
If you’re new to Reverse Wine Snob, or even if you’ve been visiting for a while, there’s no better place to begin than with my Ten Tenets of Reverse Wine Snobbery. These are ten beliefs that I hold dear — that likely fly in the face of much of what you read in the big wine magazines and websites.
The reason people buy and drink wine is to enjoy it. Sure, there are some people that buy big name bottles as a status symbol or even an investment but for most of us we’re spending our hard earned money to consume something we derive pleasure from. Unfortunately, the wine industry gets in its own way by intimidating and looking down on the average consumer. Opening most wine magazines is an exercise in discouragement as you’re flooded with articles about ultra-expensive and high scoring wines that are hopelessly out of your price range. My hope and goal is that by the time you’re done reading through my Ten Tenets of Reverse Wine Snobbery you’ll be truly free to enjoy wine on your own terms!
As such, I’ve listed quick summaries of all Ten Tenets of Reverse Wine Snobbery below but over the next 10 weeks I’ll be delving into and expanding each one of them in individual posts. I hope you’ll join me on that journey!
For most of us, a “good” wine is one that you can enjoy on any or no occasion, pair with normal food (or no food at all!), drink from basic, inexpensive (even [gasp] dishwasher-safe!) wine glasses and feel good about it.
Since we’re open-minded wine drinkers, our number one rule of wine tasting is drink whatever the heck you like. If you don’t like red wines, no problem. If you don’t like dry wines, don’t drink it. Why would anyone in their right mind drink or eat something intended to be pleasurable if they don’t like it? Because someone else tells them they should? We’re not talking about vegetables here! If syrupy, sugary sweet Moscato with an ice cube is your thing, go to town. Likewise if it is vintage Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
My wife and I love tasting new wines. How do you know what you like if you don’t try lots of things? It’s important to push your boundaries; you never know what you might find. Keep an open mind.
Tenet #4: Wine under $20 is not a compromise. (Price does not equal quality.)
Far too often inexpensive wine is marketed as a shadow of something more expensive. What you may notice if you look closely; however, is that this is usually done by the companies that also sell more expensive wines. There’s a simple reason the less expensive bottles are marketed this way – they still want to sell their pricier bottles. If they came right out and said their $12 bottle was every bit as good as their $45 bottle, why would anyone (in their right mind) buy the $45 one?
Tenet #5: The wine industry often seems to forget about the average consumer. (How to avoid their marketing traps.)
The wine industry has gotten completely caught up in its imagined or ideal wine consumer: the affluent wine geek. In reality, the affluent wine geek is a tiny, minuscule portion of the entire market. This tenet is directed at the wine industry itself, but I include it here because I also think it’s educational for the average consumer to know just how the wine industry markets to them – and how not to get caught in their traps.
Tenet #6: The three tier system sucks and needs to go away.
The three tier system is the distribution system that was put into place in this country following Prohibition. Almost all states follow this system which essentially separates the “three tiers”: producers (wineries and importers), wholesalers/distributors, and retailers. For the most part, each tier’s functions are not allowed to cross over into the other. This sounds OK on the surface, but it should also be no surprise that when you legislate, for example, that retailers must buy all their wine from a wholesaler, you give a tremendous amount of power to someone who has no real incentive to work in anyone’s interest but their own due to their legal protection. The interests of consumers (low prices and lots of choices) are nowhere to be found.
Tenet #7: Love wine.
For many, myself included, there is a great intimidation factor in wine. However, there is really no reason to be intimidated. I started out knowing nothing about wine. This was also about the same time that the gene I inherited from my father that causes you to progressively lose the ability to pronounce foreign, uncommon, or even common words started to kick in. This is a tough combination for someone venturing into a wine world filled with hard to pronounce names and terms. However, as I’ve stumbled my way through I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of people in the wine industry are really fantastic people doing what they do because they love wine too.
Tenet #8: Even though I love wine, it is still just a consumable.
Wine may not be the equivalent of toilet paper as Annette Alvarez-Peters, the head wine buyer at Costco, so famously suggested in a CNBC special, but it is still a consumable.
Tenet #9: The wine industry needs to change its ways or quit complaining about wine ratings.
The wine industry loves to complain about being constrained by the 100 point scale and other such rating systems. They have a valid point in that many times the focus becomes on the rating, rather than the wine itself. Whether consciously or subconsciously many winemakers chase after a high rating; they try to make wines to fit a particular critic’s taste. However, these complaints are completely hypocritical when the wine industry uses those same ratings as their primary marketing tactic.
Tenet #10: Price is important!
It simply cannot be said enough: When it comes to wine, price does not equal quality. There’s nothing magical about our $20 limit, but it’s silly to not bring price into the equation when considering a wine.