Home > Experiences, Life, Rants and Ramblings > Five Traps of Oenophile

Five Traps of Oenophile

September 10, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Boy, did this post took a long time… I don’t even know why – I knew what I wanted to write – but no, it still took forever. Anyway, it is finally out, yay!

If you think about it, oenophiles have not only common traits (here is my take on them) – they also have common traps. Are there actually only five traps there, tripping over and under those who loses their caution? It depends on how you will count them, but I would think that these five are the most common ones. Let’s talk about those traps, and then you can tell me of you ever fell for any of them.

1. $100 is a new $10. How many of you out there started your love of wine with Yellow Tail or Frontera, for $5.99 or so? That wine was great, and the idea that you can buy a bottle of wine for more than $10 was completely foreign. What? $19.99? That must be for special occasions only, I can’t believe people spend that kind of money on the wine. See, I’m very happy here with my Frontera Cabernet.
Little by little this situation changes. Why this $6.99 Bordeaux tastes like you are chewing on the tree branch? This is Bordeaux, right? So it is supposed to be the best wine in the world? As you keep reading books and magazines, talking and listening to other people, and most importantly, trying wines which cost a little more and maybe a little more on top, you start hitting the ”aha” moment from time to time. More wines, more reading, more conversations, more experiences at the wineries and wine tastings, more appreciation for the wine and all the labor and passion which goes into creation of a great bottle of wine, and you start letting yourself to push your limit of ”appropriate and acceptable” a bit higher, and then may be some. Before you know it, what was unfathomable to you ($100 for a bottle of wine? What am I, crazy?) becomes … hmmm, let me think about it. No, I’m not describing a birth process of a wine snob (let me digress for a second – “wine snob” has both good and bad meaning, I’m referring to the bad one here) – I think as casual wine drinker becomes an oenophile, the entire outlook on fairness and rationale of the wine prices is changing, thus eventually leading to $100 becoming a new $10 (or may be even worse than that).

2. No cellar is ever big enough. No matter what size of your cellar is, it eventually becomes full – and you run out of space for the … wait for it… new bottles, right! And this is in the lucky case when you have an actual  cellar (so you can probably squeeze in a little more). When you don’t have a cellar, the boxes start piling up all over the place, which … yeah, creates problems. You start opening the bottles just so you will get space for … new bottles. You wish that your friends will come over, so you can open more bottles and … create space for new bottles. Then some of your collection ends up at, let’s say, Benchmark Wine Company, and you get a lot of space in your cellar, so … you can fill it up again.

3. Buying of the wine becomes an obsession. We all buy things. Food, clothes, gadgets. Don’t know if someone can be obsessed with food (talking about buying, not actually eating) – may be, but let’s skip it. Let’s say someone is obsessed with gadgets. Very nice – so that someone will camp out by the store and wait for the whole night for the doors to open to be among first 10 blissful owners of iPhone 15. Some hundreds of dollars, and your obsession is satisfied for the next two years, until the iPhone 18 will come out.
When it comes to the wine obsession, situation is quite different. With the wine, oenophile is constantly afraid to miss something – miss on a big scale, miss irreparably and then regret. Ahh, 2007 was a great vintage in California, so I have to make sure I have enough 2007 in my cellar, because the time to buy is now. What if I will never see this wine again? 2009 was a great year, and this is a great producer – I have to get at least a few bottles of this wine. And that one. Ohh, and what if tomorrow this wine will disappear from the store? So there are only 200 cases of this wine made, and it has such a high rating, and, ahh – this price is incredible – should I get 3 or 4? Yes, yes, I know – I will get 5 and drink one now, but I will still have 4 left for the future, right? I can go on and on, but I think you got the picture.

4. There is never a right time to open that bottle. When it comes to deciding on which bottle to open, boy, does that creates a tsunami of thoughts? So I only have two of those bottles left… Should I open it today? But I think this wine is still evolving… May be I should wait for another year? But what if it will be past prime next year – that would be such a pity, this should be really great bottle of wine. Okay, okay – I will open it in a month, when Michael will come over – hmmm, but I think he really likes Pinot, and this is a Cab… Okay, no, I can’t decide. Let’s put it back. Do I still have any of that Chianti left which I got last week for $9.99? Yeah, I’m tired of this Chianti, but at least I will not destroy my precious bottle before its time… Again, I think this is pretty clear (tell me you never had an occurrence of this one, go ahead, lie to the world).

5. One becomes susceptible to the charm of clever and trusted wine marketing. What is the big deal, right? That what marketing is for – to make us buy something. Problem is that unless you are obsessed with something, most of the marketing generates “hmmm, this is interesting” reaction. Once we are talking about obsession, the reaction to the clever marketing is “I have to have it”. I can tell you that probably 8 times out of 10, I want to buy the wine described in the e-mails from PJ Wine (here is a link to the sample e-mail for you – judge for yourself). The need to pay for shipping really becomes a sobering factor here. Same story with the e-mails from Benchmark Wine Company – luckily (hope you sense the sarcasm), most of their offerings are priced out of the reach. A lot of e-mails from Wine Til Sold Out lead to the similar “I gotta have it” syndrome – I know people who unsubscribed from WTSO e-mails, just to avoid that permanent temptation.

I think I warned you enough – do you still want to be an oenophile (or a wine snob – in a good sense, of course)? If you are still reading this, there is a good chance that you already are – then I hope I armed you with something useful in a fight for preservation of the family money and free space in your house. If not – I hope I got at least a chuckle out of you. Last, but not least – I want to know what do you think! This is what comments section is for… Cheers!

  1. September 10, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Your post was spot on [fortunately/unfortunately]. Like looking in a mirrior I recognized myself in each category. Made me laugh and also glad to realize I am not alone….
    Thank you!

    • talkavino
      September 10, 2012 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for the comment. And you know, I’m glad it makes at least two of us : )

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 10, 2012 at 9:56 am

      3 and 4 are big ones for me I overbuy and never find an occasion worthy enough to open it. Fortunately (or is that unfortunately) my wife has no problems “urging” me to open good bottles. Thus keeping inventory down and eliminating point #2.

      • talkavino
        September 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

        #2 is a big problem – I’m glad you don’t have any issues with that : )

  2. September 10, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Add me to the list of finding myself in each category! I was hoping to also find some advice for avoiding these traps–HELP!

    • talkavino
      September 10, 2012 at 10:09 am

      Yeah, I guess I’m looking for help myself as I wrote it : )

  3. PSsquared
    September 10, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I’m still in the first category. Does that mean there’s hope for me? Or that I have sooo much to learn?!?! 🙂 Either way, this is very good information to have.

    • talkavino
      September 10, 2012 at 10:11 am

      This might be actually the best case – you love wine, but not obsessed with it [yet :)] – and now you know about the traps, so you can identify the moment when you will be all the way in…

  4. Mika
    September 10, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Whew!! 1 1/2 out of five, so it looks like I am in the clear here ;-)))
    I guess being a cheap ass helps…
    To be specific – 2 could definitely be an issue, but I think I got it under control and 4 rears its ugly head periodically.
    I will keep an eye on the symptoms and let you know if I eventually succumb… 🙂
    Great post!

    • talkavino
      September 10, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Man, I know what is in your cellar ( at least to a degree) – you are in on number #1 whether you admit it or not…

  5. September 10, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Thanks for sharing. Luckily my wallet prevents me from 1 and 3…but I definitely know the other stops…

    • talkavino
      September 10, 2012 at 10:42 am

      With #1 my idea is not that one starts buying $100+ bottles of wine left and right – but that oenophile develops an understanding that the $100 price tag has a rationale behind it. When you look at 375 ml bottle of BA Riesling which costs $175 (and has a rating of 96), you have an understanding and appreciation of the hard labor which went into creation of that bottle and you also understand that this is not an attempt by winemaker to get rich quickly at your expense – that was primarily my point with #1.

      • September 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm

        Hmmm….I definitely still struggle with that, though. In my wine culture, these price tags are very rare. In my home region, I get very very good ice wine for $30 easily. It still is hard for me to see the difference in quality that justifies the difference in price. I definitely see what you mean, but I also heard from people in the German wine community that most wines are more than reasonably priced at around $30, even the best. The rest is just branding and image and history…maybe I have just not come across these real wow wines, but with the (very few) wines of $100+ I have tried, I was mostly disappointed (they were good, but not stunning), probably because I was expecting way too much from them for that price tag.

        • talkavino
          September 11, 2012 at 5:43 am

          I understand what you are saying, and I fully agree that higher price is no guarantee of better tasting wine, however, if you want to try the wine made by particular winemaker from the partcular vineyard, price of that wine is not something which you control…

  6. September 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    My frugality and lack of space are at odds. I don’t buy TOO much wine, but I also have a hard time justifying opening some bottles. My husband is an opposing force on both counts. I guess that is okay since he is the one paying for it! One thing that helps is that I am trying to drink much less, so when I do, I want to have something good. Unfortunately, less drinking equals less writing. Fun piece for sure.

    • talkavino
      September 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Something doesn’t work for me in this picture. I enjoy your writing, so may be you need to actually start drinking more so you will write more? : )

  1. March 29, 2013 at 7:02 pm

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