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Otters Oddities

Hmm....I detect a nutty diffusion with a slightly chestnut aftertaste, with nuances of toast.

Wine. Personally, I don't like it. I think it's bitter, sour and plain old icky. But, I know a lot of people who like wine.


Liking wine is fine. You can even learn about the different varieties and which pairs with what food. I don't mind that. Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.

What I hate, are the people who can be classified as an Oenophile. An oenophile is a connoisseur of wines. Don't confuse someone with oenophilia with a sommelier.

A sommelier is someone who has studied wine extensively. They basically go to wine college. They can sip a wine and tell you where it was made, what year it was made, and probably the name of the vintner. That's why there aren't too many of them. And, if you are ever served a bottle of wine by one, it will cost you a lot.

Sommelier is a profession.

An oenophile is just a common connoisseur. It's someone who has spent a lot of their free time learning about wine. They are the people who read books on wine. They plan vacations around wineries. They think 'Sideways' was the greatest gift Hollywood ever gave us.


Anyone can be an oenophile.

I don't actually dislike all oenophiles. The one's who do it for their own enjoyment are fine. I dislike the pretentious ones who won't hesitate to correct you when you confuse a rose and a riesling. I hate the ones who lecture you because you called your bottle of Martini and Rossi Asti Spumanti 'champagne'. ("It's a sparkling wine, not champagne. Only the sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called 'champagne'. It's like, an international law, or something!")


If a sommelier tells me that, I won't mind, because it's their job. Plus, they won't be looking down their noses at me. Oenophiles just like drinking wine, and learn about it to justify their drinking habits.

The one thing I enjoy, though, is when vintners test oenophiles.

In 2005, Robert Hodgson was confused by the inconsistent results his wines were getting when entered into wine contests. So, he arranged a test. A lot of tests, actually.


The first was at the California State Fair. The panel of judges were self proclaimed 'experts' on wine. They used phrases like, "citrusy with a slightly smokey backend", or "fruity aroma, but a savory bite on the palate". Hodgson suspected they were blowing smoke out their collective asses.

So, he had the panel of judges served with the same wines, three different times in the judging.


They gave the wines different scores each time. And, we're not talking similar scores and comments. Oh no, they were way off of each other. None of the judges showed any consistency. This happened at every competition. The judges had a 10% rate of giving the same wine a similar score and comment.

This mirrors other studies as well. Take a study in 2001 where 57 people were served a very expensive and high quality vintage Bordeaux, but it was poured from bottles that were labeled as a cheaper brand. All 57 said is was a poor quality wine, something they wouldn't buy because it just wasn't good. When served the exact same wine from the original bottle, none of them recognized it as the wine they had just rejected as being 'cheap'.


And, in 2011, 578 self proclaimed wine connoisseurs were given a blind taste test of two white wines. One was a $5 bottle, the other was a $50 bottle. Less than half of the people could tell which was cheap and which was expensive. Remember, these are the people that pride themselves on knowing their wines. Had everyone guessed, more people would have been right.

So, what does this tell us? It tells us that the wine snobs you know most likely haven't got a clue about what they are talking about. And, that's not surprising.


Wine has many subtle flavors and aromas that not everyone can sense. In fact, most sommeliers are what is known as "super-tasters". That is, people who have very sensitive taste buds and olfactory receptors. The difference between a super-taster and a normal person is, a normal person would say, "That's beef stew.". A super-taster would say, "Beef, seared then braised with some dry sherry. Theres carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes. Spices are, salt, pepper, garlic, and just a pinch of cumin and nutmeg.". You taste food. They taste ingredients.

The lesson to be learned here is, don't be a wine snob. If you enjoy wine, drink it. But don't hold yourself above anyone because you think you know something about wine. Because, chances are, I could serve you a quality wine and a boxed wine, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.


And, as a rule, if you're going to lecture people about wine, you had best put down the bottle of Bartles and Jaymes first.

**Authors Note**

I realize this was less an oddity and more of a rant, but that's tough. However, since you all read my posts for weird things and humor, not rants, I give you a gif to enjoy. Don't get used to it. I'm just feeling generous tonight.


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