In Defence of the Food Snob & Wine Wanker

I’m going to put my cards on the table right now. I’m a food snob and wine wanker. How do I know this? Because of the sideways glances and smirks I get from some people when I mention I have an interest in food and wine.

I’m guilty of posting pictures of a particularly good meal or bottle of wine to Instagram or Facebook and I’ve committed the crime of expressing an interest about where the things I consume come from.

I’ve visited farms, I’ve been into kitchens and I’ve visited wineries. I’ve even picked grapes during vintage (it’s a wanky term for harvest) in the inky blackness of early morning.

What I’d like to know is why we don’t have football snobs, or Star Trek wankers? Are those worlds less exclusive? I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know the difference between a holding midfield and an anchor, or a Bajoran or a Ba’ku but does that fact that there are people out there who do make them snobs and wankers? Hardly.

So why is there such antipathy towards those who express a serious interest in food and wine? I’ll be the first to admit, the shoving your nose in a wine glass can look a bit ridiculous but it’s certainly no more ridiculous than a bunch of grown men with numbers on their back, running around a field chasing a ball.

Do some people get a little carried away sometimes? Of course. No one needs to see your morning coffee and croissant posted to Instagram each day. While oversharing certainly exists, if you share every single article the mentions your favourite football team aren’t you doing the same? Like all interests, there are people who take themselves far too seriously but most don’t.

The 'wine wanker' in his natural habitat

The ‘wine wanker’ in his natural habitat

I would argue that food and wine are some of the most accessible interests that you could possibly have. In the few years that I’ve begun to develop a serious interest, I’ve met countless winemakers, chefs, producers, farmers and fellow ‘wankers’ who have been more than happy to take time out of their busy schedules to share their love of what they do with me.

Out of all of the interests I’ve developed over the years, the world of food and wine has been one of the most welcoming and inclusive. It’s built around people who love to have a good time and like to put some thought into how they do that. So next time you roll your eyes at someone else’s interests because they’re not the same as yours, chances are the wanker is you.

Author:Jeremy Bowell

Jeremy Bowell is the founder and editor of Taste Explorer. He also writes for InsideCuisine.com, TheGrapeHunter.com, SoBadSoGood.com and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section. He is an avid connoisseur of all things food and drink related.
  • http://www.coloursandlight.com Alex Wain

    “So why is there such antipathy towards those who express a serious interest in food and wine?”

    I’m speaking here from my own experience / perception of “foodies” online – a term which I actually find cringeworthy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a passion or interest, be it wine or football and I think there’s a general agreement that oversharing (like parents and their new babies) is really tedious. Just like the Facebook friend we all have with 600+ profile pictures – we all know what you look like by now.

    But there’s a genuine difference between sharing a photo of say a Ferrari vs sharing a half eaten dinner. People would view that car as being something that’s aspirational and even inspiring (you could also accuse those same people of being terribly materialistic). Food on the other hand, doesn’t truly resonate with anyone other than the person who made it and the person who’s eating it. Do you find crispy wontons inspiring to look at? Or the beauty and flawless design of a Ferrari?

    When I talk about photographs of food, I’m not talking about images designed for blogs, I’m talking about everyday people deeming it necessary to upload their half eaten burrito. It’s akin to people who upload those photographs of their legs on the beach with some lame tag line “Wishing you were hear. Weekends rock. #summer #relax” – it’s basically saying to people “I’m here, you’re not. So fuck you.” and with food photos in particular, that’s a theme that resonates very strongly (for me anyway) “I’m enjoying this, you’re not.”

    Another reason why food is often view with such distain online, is that it isn’t tangible. It might look good, but you can’t truly appreciate the flavor, smell or texture. Someone else is. It’s almost the equivalent of dangling something you want just out of reach and yelling “na na na naaaa na” which I personally find really pretentious. “This tastes amazing, but you wouldn’t know. So here’s a jpg instead.”

    If you look at the example you mentioned, sport, you can see the play, hear the crowd, watch the celebration and then there’s the whole soap opera that goes with it – who’s playing, who’s injured, who will score. It’s interactive, inclusive and tangible. You don’t get any of that with food or wine. It’s very much a one-way broadcast and because of that it’s seen as elitist.

    In a world where there is so much beauty, so many interesting things to share and enjoy – are wine labels and braised lamb shanks really the best that “foodies” can come up with? Is that the best use of their friends real estate in their feed? Does that truly define them? Or should we all look to broaden our horizons and avoid being typecast, elitest and entirely predictable?

    • jezzster

      An interesting and well considered response,but how is posting a photo of a Ferrari that most people will never own or get to drive any better than posting something you’ve created yourself or something you’d like to recommend to others?

      By your logic, no-one should ever post a photo of a gig they’ve been to or a holiday they’ve taken because you’d be rubbing it in people’s faces.

      Everything you said about sport, it being “Interactive, inclusive and tangible” relates to food and wine too. Even more so. If you were at a sports match and tell me what happened or share an article about the result, I’ll never be able to relive that same experience. If you share an experience of a great meal or a great wine, that is something that can be relived by others. It’s a far more inclusive and tangible experience.

      If someone wants to share their passions with others, who are we to be the arbiters of what is and isn’t elite?

      Is filling people’s news feeds with stories of sports teams any better than the suggestion of a great wine or restaurant to try?

      Your comments illustrate clearly the point I made in my article.

  • Chris

    I think this stems to a problem emerging in Australia, with the celebration of ignorance.
    It’s as wide ranging as political candidates – elections are run on our politicians being no better than the ‘average working Australian” – no more intelligent or educated than our lowest common denominator – because heaven forbid we should insult them by suggesting that there are smarter people around.

    But why is that seen as a positive? We don’t hire lawyers based on them being ‘average’ or ‘down to earth’ – we hire the best we can afford. I cannot imagine choosing an accountant based on any skill other than their ability to do their job well -and what about surgeons? Who wants an ‘average’ surgeon!?

    Yet, in some careers, knowledge, passion and education is seen as ‘snobbery’. I make wine, and I have been described as a snob and a wine wanker – but isn’t it my job to be better educated and more knowledgable than the ‘average’ about my chosen field?

    So maybe next time someone calls you a ‘snob’, as them if they’re qualified in their chosen career, and if that makes them a snob – or just someone refusing to embrace ignorance.

    • jezzster

      Very well said! I certainly hope my doctor is a medical snob.

  • Moredsir

    Derision is the sincerest form of envy. ;)

    It’s actually one of the most basic animal instincts to fear, and thus attack or avoid, what you don’t understand. It’s what keeps most animals, including humans, alive.