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Thursday, February 5, 2009

On the issue of wine snobbery

Greglor was sneaky enough to come in and write an article about wine. An apt choice, as I probably wouldn't have broached the topic. Then again, he didn't just write about wine, but about attitudes toward wine - the internal snobbery, if you will. This cultural cachet of elitism in wine is one that I don't understand, particularly since, scientifically, we've proven that the perceptions of wine quality is pretty fluid. For example, the perception of wine quality can be affected by the perceived price of the wine. A more recent study demonstrates how poorly reproducible wine reviews can be. Expert reviewers seldom give the exact same wine, opened on the same day, the same rating, and can call it anything from ambrosia to swill.

Something to think about as you sip the two buck Chuck :).


  1. I agree with you on this matter, can you really tell a difference from when you are sipping the so called prestige versus a $8.00 bottle of yellow tail?

  2. Most studies that look at the difference between "expensive" wine and "cheap" wine are comparing two fantastic wines. I.e. a wine that costs $25 a bottle vs. a wine that costs $100 a bottle. It's the classic diminishing-returns problem, and the conclusions made my food columnists aren't really very accurate. Indeed, by most peoples' standards, they would fall into expensive wine and obscenely expensive wine categories.

    A wine-tasting that compares a $2 bottle of wine (a 2 buck chuck, for example) with a $15 wine will be painfully obvious which one is which (even to a wine ignoramus like me). The cheaper wine generally has only 1 flavour. The more expensive one has more stuff going on. That's the major difference.

    There's far fewer differences between a $25 and a $100 wine than there are between the $2 and the $15 wine.

    As a way of pointing out - I went to a wine tasting a couple years ago - three wines were showcased. As the host explained, they were a "cheap" wine, a "medium-priced" wine and an "expensive wine", but she didn't tell us which was which. They ranged from being undrinkable to being palatable, but clearly boring and nothing I would try again given the choice. When unveiled, the unpalatable was a $6 wine (the most expensive of the bunch), and the merely boring was a 2 buck chuck. None of them were any good (and I was blinded to all of them prior to the tasting). But the 2 buck chuck is at least something that is drinkable, if uninteresting.