This is something I wrote earlier in the year for Spectator Life magazine but it has taken so long to appear that one of the shops I mention has since closed. Tant pis, as they say in East London.
Red-faced, plummy-voiced, with a big nose, the wine snob is a familiar social stereotype. He might laugh at you at a dinner party for mispronouncing Montrachet or be the face sneering at you from behind the counter of a stuffy wine merchant when you ask for a bottle of cava. Oddly enough, in all my years of buying wine and working in the wine trade, I very rarely came across this figure. People like this may have once been ubiquitous but nowadays the legend of the wine snob is kept alive by the wine trade as a way of proclaiming their egalitarian principles: haven’t we come far, they say, we’re not like those terrible blazer-wearing toffs.
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After writing this article, I had an experience in a trendy wine shop which suggested the wine snob is actually alive and well. He’s just changed a bit.