A Hint of BS: Can it be that wine snobs are even worse than art snobs? Yes, it can.

| March-April 2009

  • Wine Snob BS

    image by Jason Raisch

  • Wine Snob BS

One night when we were teenagers, a friend and I took the bus to the Gentrified District in our town to attend gallery openings. We weren’t going for the art: Broke and underage, we were lured by rumors of free wine and lax policies on checking ID.

Score. Shuffling around chugging Franzia at a painting exhibit, we happened to hear a man describe one of the splotched atrocities on the wall as “percussive.” This meant nothing to the two of us, if it even needs to be said, except that the guy was a blowhard. But we gained courage as the evening went on and the box wine kept flowing, and we began sidling up to people at random and using percussive to describe whatever they were looking at.

“I don’t know; it’s a little percussive for my taste.”

“Red, yet percussive. It’s breathtaking.”

You can probably picture the reactions. Furrowed brows, pursed lips, and nodding heads. Deep in contemplation or fettered by politeness, no one asked us to explain this usage. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them even chided themselves for not having thought of it first.

Spend enough time around experts (or people who so fancy themselves), and you might start to talk funny. If you happen to be an expert yourself—real or imagined—you assume your listener has a given level of knowledge, and before long shorthand communication becomes not only convenient but necessary. As far as those gallery patrons could tell, we really knew our stuff, and we could have been saying something profound.

maureen valdini
2/27/2009 5:45:43 PM


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