Long ago my friends learned that I will answer to “wine snob.” It’s because it’s funny to me. I’ve put a little bit of effort into knowing wines and over a dozen years that continual effort has turned into a moderate amount of knowledge. It’s not like I’ve taken any classes, I’m lackadaisical about reading up on varietals or trends or such (the only critic I keep up with is the New York Times’ Eric Asimov and I usually skim his columns). Even when I’m flush with cash I balk at paying more than $30 for a bottle unless it’s a knock out. I’m well aware that my minimal efforts leave an extensive body of knowledge beyond what I know and that “real” snobs have a price point usually twice my line.
Nonetheless, I’ve become known as the one who brings wine to the party, wine to the hangout, wine to the dinner table. For this my youngest brother once accused me of turning French. Little did he know that my favorite offerings to bring with me to any old meet-n-feast is fine bottle of pinot noir (Schug maybe?) paired with some raspberries and blackberries, a creamy cheese (oh who am I kidding, brie) and a French roll. Or maybe I’d make a meal of a heady zinfandel (just polished off a great Bogle, but Seven Deadly Zins will always be my go-to when I don’t want to think too hard), hard cheese (aged cheddar or smoked gouda), garlic crackers and maybe some salami – any zesty Italian dish works, really – and wrap the whole thing up with chocolate.
I’m not a dedicated foodie. I’m don’t feel up to what I consider true connoisseurship. I hesitate to even make rules for myself, knowing I’ll just break them because that’s what I do. So even as much as I wish I could just eat food that I enjoy savoring and always avoid food that doesn’t meet this lone metric, I’m fine with tossing back a passable, cheap wine with a sandwich. How about with pizza that tastes just like the cardboard box it came in? Oh what the hell, as long as I didn’t pay for it. But bad wine is bad. Never order the wine at Sizzler’s. Trust me on this one. Life is way too short for crap wine.
Probably the least amusing assumption about me as a wine lover is that I mightn’t also like other alcoholic drinks. I admit, I have a limited appreciation of bar drinks. I know maybe a dozen mixed drinks that I like but I really don’t know most mixers. I’d be an utter failure as a bartender. However, I like scotch. Perhaps even love it. Not great for pairing but good for before and after meals and during any slow points in the middle. But a few friends of mine have staked out the rich ground of scotch snobbery, so I don’t have to. Thus I don’t like to say what expressions I like more than any others, but I have found I like a good Isle of Islay, say the Ardbeg, pretty darn well. And further proving I’m not the scotch snob, I really like bourbons, appreciating the sweetness as well as low price. Bulleit is as reliable as children losing balloons at the county fair. Finally, I dig a good rum and it’s hard, maybe impossible to beat Pyrat.
It’s just, if I’m going to put it in my mouth I should enjoy it, I figure. The only guidance I go by when it comes to figuring out what to drink next is a pair of questions: 1. Was that tasty? 2. Seconds? Still, friends expect me to be ready with wine recommendations. I don’t understand why.