Can We Pick on Something Besides Wine for a Change?

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A new article takes some serious jabs at wine bars

The wine industry is just such an easy candidate for the "pretentious snob" award.

Yes, wine experts (and wannabes) can sometimes be pompous fuddy-duddies and smug little know-it-alls. And yes, the exaggerated washing machine sound some people make when they sample wine at tasting events can be a little unnerving. And yes, descriptors like "jammy," "unctuous," and "hedonistic" have been known to induce involutary exasperated eye-rolls.

But come on, that's not the entire story — especially these days — and to perpetuate the jokes-write-themselves stereotypes about wine and the people who love it feels a little played, no? Apparently not.

In a new article for Grubstreet, drinks writer Matthew Latkiewicz takes a sledgehammer to the wine bar business, opening at point blank range with this zinger: "Bars are fun. Wine bars are not."

He goes on to list five reasons why wine bars are "so dreadful" and suggests fixes for each of the problems. Some of the issues are worth considering — bars whose spaces are cluttered with tacky wine paraphernalia, and the inherent cost and risk of serving wine by the glass. Other gripes seem a touch more outlandish: "the customers are just the worst," "you can't talk about anything except wine," and the one that really pokes the bear, "wine doesn't deserve all the fuss."

Regarding the matter of "insufferable" customers and their favorite topic of conversation, it would seem that this is more of an issue with drink geeks in general than a wine-specific problem. Were you at some beer-centric bar, would you be that surprised (or better yet, annoyed) to overhear some hophead launch into an empassioned talk about the pilgrammage they want to take to Indiana for Dark Lord Day? Or if you were at some great cocktail den, would you begrudge the enthusiast next to you at the bar for geeking out over the craft ice and house-made whatever? 

If an individual likes to nerd out over grape juice, it makes sense that they would want to do that at a wine bar — including those deemed as being cool and less pretentious. As one commenter points out, "The author shouts out Terroir for being a cool wine bar, which it is. But while he was enjoying himself at Terroir, he apparently failed to realize that he was completely surrounded by the very same 'insufferables' whose presence he bemoans in 'Problem 2.'"

And to even begin to get into the discussion about wine not deserving all the fuss because it's "pretty much made and served in one way," well, I'd definitely need a drink first.