After traveling through Napa this past weekend it became increasingly clear that despite the large number of people you come across in the hundreds of tasting rooms across wine country, you’re really just meeting the same people again and again. From the lady who’s slightly slurring her words and babbling on about her ’03 Cabernet when she’s actually drinking an ’05 Zin to the group of “bros” that are totally rockin’ the wine country bachelor party, these groups of people can be simultaneously amusing and irritating. Here are the 6 types of people you’re most likely to come across when you’re at a wine tasting.
The Wine Snob
Whether you know a bit about wines or are just there because you wanted something fun to do on a Saturday afternoon, there’s always at least one person there whose primary goal is to make you feel like a complete novice. They loudly talk about specific aromas and finishes you can’t quite decipher and they look at you with disdain when you say things like “I like this one,” or “this just isn’t my thing.” Sometimes they legitimately know their stuff and sometimes they’re just pretending, but either way, they add a bit of pretentiousness to the whole tasting room and suck the fun out of it for everyone else.
The Casual Connoisseur
This category probably comprises about fifty percent of the people you meet at wine tastings. They know what they like and they’re just out for a good time. It’s unlikely these casual wine drinkers will be spending thousands of dollars in one shot, but they’ll buy a few bottles when they come across something they like. Usually these people are pretty friendly, and although they’d really like to be more vocal about their opinions and ask a few more questions, they’re often concerned with being judged or ostracized by truly knowledgeable wine snobs.
The Total Novice
These are the people who don’t really know a thing about wine. It’s not about appreciation of flavors or trying to find something they like, but it’s still a fun time heading from winery to winery and being able to have a couple of drinks along the way. These are the people who scoff at tasting fees and can’t comprehend why a bottle could possibly cost more than fifty bucks. Some of them are on their way to becoming a casual connoisseur, and these are the ones who ask questions and seem legitimately interested when the pourer is describing the wines. The rest are all about the free booze, the sights, and the spectacle, and have no intention of ever making their wine drinking about anything more.
The Excessive Taster
If you spend a whole day going to different wineries you’re pretty much guaranteed to encounter at least one person who has had way too many tastings. They’re overly gregarious, they’re the awkward center of everyone’s attention, and it’s easy to start getting embarrassed for them when they spill their tasting for the second time in five minutes. The people in this category tend to be the very same people who would describe themselves as a “cougar” even though they’re really just twenty years past their prime and drinking to forget the bitter divorce. Still, even if they are bitter on the inside, there’s no denying that the wine is helping them have the time of their lives.
The New Best Friend
Depending on the size of the winery, a tasting can be an extremely social experience, and, unlike reality show contestants, these people are here to make friends. Quickly crossing the boundary from casually friendly into oddly personal, this special breed of wine taster wants to know not just where you’re from, but what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning. They ask lots of questions and share way too much information: it might be amusing, it might be uncomfortable, but it’s most likely to be a combination of the two. Sometimes this is an offshoot of just being an excessive taster, but more often than not it’s just someone looking to meet a few new people and going about it with just a bit too much vigor.
The Misplaced Partier
The last category is a little bit tricky to describe but you’ll immediately know them when you see ’em. They look like they just watched the movie The Hangover, decided it was totally awesome, then forgot that it took place in Vegas and went to wine country instead. Regardless of how many people are in the tasting room, this group of “bras” is blissfully unaware of everyone else in the immediate vicinity. They might not go quite so far as to literally high five over the late harvest Semillon, but when the residual sugar hits their lips they’ll definitely share a knowing glance among each other and doff their white baseball caps in approval.
Image via Flickr: Southern Foodways Alliance
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