Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who is responsible for making wine "snobby?"

Mr. Thurston Howell, III
Is it you? How about you, Mr. and Mrs. "I Only Drink 95+ Parker Point Wines." Are you responsible for making wines snobby? Or you over there who rambles on incessantly about your "allocations." Are you responsible for making wines snobby? We just heard you over and over again that you are in town to pick up your "allo-caaaay-shunsss." And the word, "allocations" was said with an extended jaw like Mr. Thurston Howell, III of "Gilligans Island" and Dr Niles Crane, the Corkmaster of the Seattle Wine Club, on "Frasier." We heard it so often, now we are wondering if these two TV characters were responsible for making wine snobby? 

Dr. Niles Crane
Perhaps it was Randy Marsh of South Park? After all, he has wine tastings every night and it's "classy." So - - what bastard-o is responsible for making wine snobby? Was it Miles Raymond from the movie, Sideways. Oh, don't even get me started ...    

Wine has been with us for centuries, since the Egyptians and also in the Middle East dating back to 5000 BC. The history of wine in the New World, dates back to our early explorers and settlers with their first discovery of "wine-berries." The most successful and oldest traditions of winemaking activities in the US come from the Spaniards in the 17th century. The Jesuits and Franciscans planted grapes along with the missions they built across California, New Mexico and Texas. Thomas Jefferson, our third President of the United States, was a gourmet of good food and wine. He planted vineyards at his Monticello home and experimented with grape growing in his Paris garden on the Champs-Elysees. Is
Randy Marsh 
Thomas Jefferson responsible for making wine snobby?

Washington State has her share of wine history, too. It all started with humble beginnings just like in California. Early French and Italian settlers wanted a taste of home and brought their vines and made wine for their families until prohibition. These settlers did not arrive with their American Express Centurion "Black" card. All they wanted was freedom, the ability to care for their families and a taste of their old home they left behind - wine.

Once upon a time, I use to sell wine. I sold it for over 15 years. I met a lot of people who were responsible for making wine snobby. There was the customer who demanded I sell him the magnum, including its award winning ribbon - - even though it was very clear the magnum was for display only. The man mentioned he was besties with the winemaker and if I didn't comply and sell him the magnum with the award ribbon, he would have my job. I basically told him he could have my job ... Then there was the woman who leaned against the counter, with her back towards me, while tapping her glass on the counter for me to come running and pour her next glass of wine. Of course - - I came running, because it was my job. If I had owned the winery, while she had her back towards me, I would have poured into her glass from the spit bucket. I am pretty sure these folks are responsible in making wine snobby. 

There was an afternoon I put on my winery "visitor's cap." I seemed to keep running into the same Walla Walla tasting rooms where there was this huge, beastly, bulging man and his wife who kept yammering on and on about their "allo-caay-shuns" from many high-end
Miles Raymond
Walla Walla wineries. And with every winery visit, their voices kept getting louder. At one of the particular wineries, there was also a young group of Seattle millenniums. Their cool attitudes could have frosted, cracked and shattered the pottery spit buckets on the counter. This group of five visitors, who we later referred to as the "Coven of the Snooty Von-Snoots," made it very clear they did not want to make room for us at the bar, wanted to name drop, and only taste the wines with the highest scores. One of the women in the group rudely reached over and picked up my scribbled wine notes in my Day-Timer and was shuffling through it as if it was her own. We hugged the corner of the bar and stayed in our "place." We knew these customers were also responsible in making wine snobby.

A winery tasting room in Richland, WA had three male tasting room staff members behind their tasting room bar. All three of these staff members were pouring wine to three male tourists at the counter. Not once did any of the staff look up at us  and acknowledge me and my friends. Their sign said, "Open" and we arrived during their posted tasting room hours, about 2:00 pm. But we were never asked if we wanted to taste their wines while we timed about seven minutes of being ignored. This winery in Richland was certainly doing their part
Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States
in making wine snobby. 

Last, but not least the tasting room in Willamette Valley who made us feel so uncomfortable that even their other guests were staring at us as with pathetic looks. We were behaving. We didn't name drop or mention we worked with wineries and wrote about wineries, nor did we whip out a business card. We were on vacation and just wanted to taste and learn about their winery. First of all,we had to ask if we could taste their wines, even after being ignored for several minutes. Then after the first sample, we kept having to ask if we could also taste the other wines they were serving to their other customers while they kept passing us over. With each pour, they would not talk to us, let alone tell us what they were pouring. This Oregon winery, no doubt, was responsible for leading the way of making wine snobby.  

So how about you? Are you doing your part in making wine "snobby?" If you are - - knock it off. Relax and enjoy. In the words of Charles Smith of Charles Smith Wines who was named Wine Enthusiast Magazine 2014 Winemaker of the Year and Food & Wine Magazine's 2009 Winemaker of the Year, ...

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