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Snooth User: CuriousWine

Wine Words: Geek vs. Snob

Posted by CuriousWine, Jan 11, 2008.

The subtleties of language have long fascinated me. I make no claim to any formal training in linguistics. Even my grammar and style are sometimes lacking; I have been known to write in the passive voice. Still, words intrigue me, particularly their meanings and usage. It is with this interest that I hope to start blogging about more than just wine packaging. Yes, from time to time, you’ll now be privy to my un-academic musings on wine and language. I imagine the smile on your face while reading this; yes, 2008 is shaping up to be quite the year already.

So on to wine and words… One interesting etymology is the example of Saint Vincent. He is the patron saint of wine, not because he was a wine-maker (or even a notable wine drinker), but rather because "Vincent" is a derivative of "vin sang" (or blood of the vine). At least, that's what I've read .

As you may have gleaned from the previous paragraph, I'm a wine geek. Or I am better described as a wine snob? Snob and geek are obviously different in their meanings and connotations. According to the OED (this I’ve learned is how intelligent people refer to the Oxford English Dictionary; for a long while I thought the abbreviation was short for some psychological disorder), wine snob started appearing in print sometime in the mid-20th century (probably 1951). Wine geek is the younger of the two terms and first appeared, as best I can tell, sometime in the early 1990's and it wasn’t until 1999 that the term first showed up in the New York Times.

It is certainly hipper to be a wine geek than it is to be a wine snob. The term aptly describes those who possess knowledge and lack pretension. Still, the term "wine snob" turns up more entries on a Google search than "wine geek", meaning the old phrase still looms large in our vernacular, if not just our imagination. Yes, the wine geek might brag that it is preferable to know more than spend more, but the act of bragging is fairly uncouth in and of itself.

I say lets do away with both the geek and the snob. I urge you, gentle reader, to take the higher road and by this I don't mean to refer to yourself as an oenophile. After all, we enjoy wine without being called a drunk just as we can know about wine without being labeled a connoisseur. Next time someone asks about your relationship with wine, simply say you love the stuff. If love is too strong a word, "like" will also suffice. Once someone called me a "vinoculturist," I doubt the word will ever catch on. I kind of hope it doesn't. Then again, whoever coined the term "winesmanship," must have found it funny when they saw their word in the dictionary.

Scott Rosenbaum is director of operations for the International Wine Center and wine buyer for the retailer DrinkUpNY .


Blog comment by Wilf Krutzmann, Jan 11, 2008.

Very well done article. Humility or lack thereof comes into play.So many of the nouveaux-snobs out there think that just because they have a little knowledge about wine they are suddenly experts. I have studied wine for close to thirty years but every time someone refers to me as a wine expert, I cringe. I am still learning on a daily basis. The real issue seems to be that people forget to truly enjoy wine for all its wonders.

Blog comment by lisa jones, Jan 11, 2008.

Go Packers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am a true wine snob. We only order the best when we go to a nice restaurant. We like the Bordeaux or the Pauillac. I do remember in college and my single days that bar wine was okay. Now I can really tell the difference.

Go Brett Favre!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reply by vinolover7, Oct 11, 2010.

Reply by Girl Drink Drunk, Oct 11, 2010.

I've found, as lisa kind of shows above, that most wine snobs know very little about wine.

Reply by GregT, Oct 11, 2010.

GDD - !!!

Most wine bloggers too, unfortunately.

Reply by dmcker, Oct 11, 2010.

Nor do some bloggers know how to post links:


Page not found

Sorry, the page you were looking for in the blog Simply Wine does not exist.

Reply by ChipDWood, Oct 11, 2010.

Worked for me, at least at this point, although the top level advert was what continued to come up as "not available at this time."

Reply by ChipDWood, Oct 11, 2010.

K now all is in rhythm.  Probably thanks to the kean eye that pointed it out.

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