The Many Faces of Wine

Ξ December 6th, 2009 | → 14 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Wine & Politics, Wine News |

Donna writes…
I was participating in a lively discussion on Jancis Robinson’s website on fraudulent wine and auctions and I commented on some caricatures of the different types of wine investors. Using the term investor loosely including collectors, I wanted to expand the types.
I’m not trying to poke fun, well maybe a little, but I see these people everyday and I love them. They are all good for the industry. The one thing all these “collectors” have in common, one way or another, they really like wine.
The Pure Investor: Never seeing the bottles they purchase, the wines go straight to climate storage, complete provenance, insured. Or they participate in a wine investment fund. Waits until the time is right and off loads for a good profit and they have absolutely no emotional contact with the wine, because they really don’t like it that much. It’s just a commodity to them.
Normally drinks beer, cocktails. They drink Champagne after a particularly successful sale in a hot club, preferably with some eye candy hanging on their tales of wine trade dominance.
The Ego: Buys nothing but names, the more expensive and harder to get the better. Doesn’t know a much about wine except what they hear second hand from others. This is a busy business person who wants to make more money to buy more big bottles. Only knows one grape varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Thinks large format bottles are the Holy Grail. The smart Ego’s hire a professional cellar manager, sommelier, or other expert to do their purchases, but fight them a lot.
Food is sustenance; eats a lot of beef. Harder to get regular fakes through this buyer especially with personal consultants, but the rare wine fakes are really easy because none of their friends/contemporaries have these bottles and they start obsessing about getting that wine and ultimately will override their own judgment and consultants advice.
Once they realize they’ve been had, hell hath no fury. They want everyone to feel and know about the pain they are in.
The Romantic: Is in love with being in love with wine, usually also a “foodie”; covets the bottles they buy, brings out bottles cradling them like babies, and is avid about “supposed” wine manners. Is passive-aggressive and has a heart attack when someone pours more than 4 ounces or 125 ml into their glass. They attend every wine dinner possible to meet winemakers or wine celebrities and will pout if they don’t get to sit next to them, but this is rare since they are good clients of all the restaurants in town.
Frequently has “Iron Chef” foodie challenges with pairings at their homes. And when they open the wines they regale their friends with stories of meeting each producer, how each wine was made from the soil to the bottle and frequently brings out little jewel boxes each holding a magic rock or soil from vineyards around the world for show and tell at the dinner table.
Owns every decanter and glass Riedel has ever produced. Is extremely opinionated and lyrical about which wines they love and hate. Unfortunately they can be limited in their range, and get stuck and prejudiced about specific wines or regions because they have learned about wine only via other people’s words. Has a complete library full of wine books but 90% of the spines have never been cracked. Usually prefers red wine to white. Easy to pass fakes off to because buys emotionally. Would never admit having bought a fake and would sulk for a long time if anyone found out.
The Vacationer: Buys a few big and important bottles on vacation every year. Doesn’t know a lot about wine, but likes to drink it in abundance, preferably at French country cafes out of a jug in the back of the cafe. Invests in the bottle their friend “The Romantic or The Ego” tells them to buy. This collector never gets a fake because they buy their bottles directly from the wineries while on holiday.
Highly complex and expensive wines really aren’t their thing, but buy them anyway because of peer pressure, and then are told off by the Ego ten years later that they can’t sell their wine because they kept it on top of the fridge or a warm area of the house, upright. And the corks are dried out.
Finds someone to buy them off cheap (usually the 24 hour party person, see below) and takes the few dollars from the sale and invests in some Charles Shaw which is what they would have rather had to begin with. When listening to other wine friends gush, gawp and gawk about the details off a bottle, they drift into a lovely daydream and soon their eyes glaze over with boredom.
The Drinker: This person doesn’t really invest, they consume. They love wine, spirits and beer. They study it, are laid back about it and are very generous. They buy great wines from around the world and share them with their friends, even the ones that don’t know much about wine. Believes they can convert everyone into a wine drinker.
Loves good, unfussy fresh food. Many wines in their collection are under 10 years old, because they drink them instead of storing them for long time periods. Makes the Romantic and Ego crazy because they drink wines younger than what “they should”. Doesn’t have a favorite wine, loves them all. Great with sourcing high quality but low priced unique bottles from obscure regions and producers. If ever got a fake, would laugh it off and hold a party so everyone could sip their folly.
24 hour Party People: This brand of wine collector is normally employed in the wine/beverage industry. Wine consumes their life. They work hard and play harder. A complete enabler, their friends who are normally mild, they become animals when with this collector. Always brings home dregs of customers’ and sample bottles to blind taste with friends. Has fantastic after-hour parties at their house when the bars close.
They eat amazing food every day and are always broke. Their cellars consist of broken down converted refrigerators, and they usually have two or three. They know exactly what to buy. And they have no problem taking a risk on wine because they consider bad bottles an adventure and even educational. If they get a fake, they are thrilled; they call their friends to come over and taste it. Usually the wine fridges get opened soon after and a party ensues.
Most take advanced wine accreditations and study wine professionally. Always takes vacations that involve wine. Has no hesitation in making mischief and their adventures can be heard for many years, handed down as folklore to newbie wine professionals who will listen in awe.
The Professor: Is the know it all. Takes every thing about wine incredibly serious. Reads every book they can find about wine. Is enrolled in multiple wine forums online and expresses incredibly opinionated views and dares anyone to contradict their statements; those who do risk a complete and utter thrashing.
Despite thinking this person is an expert on wine, they have no accreditations because they can’t take the stress of being wrong or failing an exam. Every wine they purchase is meticulously documented with leather bound ledger inventory or online storage programs or both. All their wine is in offsite storage, so it gives them an opportunity to be around the Ego and Romantic so they can pick an argument. Never has a fake; no matter if they did, it’s never happened… period. Normally has food in their beard and wears suspenders, but not cool enough to wear a bow tie.
And finally……….
The Blogger: No need to worry about the Blogger getting a fake, they are too broke to even think about buying such wines. They have lots of wines from their travels around the world, (purchased with their OWN money) the more bizarre the better, are friends with all the wine types and frequent every wine tasting within a 100 mile radius of their location. As a result they wish their dentists would give a discount on teeth whitening and that there was a way to regain enamel.
They know a fair bit about wine, and what they don’t they learn from their fellow Bloggers and friends and wine institutions. There’s a little bit of each collector in them. They walk about with a laptop, iPhone, Flip video, a Moleskin notebook (looks really cool) and digital voice recorders with specialty microphones sat in a pocket protector ready for action. Talking endlessly to winemakers about biodynamic-beneficial bacteria retrieved from a buried cow’s horn gives them wood.


14 Responses to ' The Many Faces of Wine '

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  1. on December 6th, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    I thought I might be a “Drinker,” and then a “24 Hour Party People,” but then I realized I am indeed a “Blogger.” Great post… :-)

  2. Amaronese said,

    on December 7th, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Stumbled upon your site a few months ago and following it with gusto ever since.
    Great post, though it makes me wonder what type bloggers really are. Are we indeed Bloggers, or just a mix of everything like you wrote. Or, are we none of the above? Aren’t we the type of wine drinkers that don’t want to belong to any of these well discerned categories, aren’t we just non-categorized (and probably also non-categorial) drinkers/thinkers. Isn’t our fear to be tagged and the way we deal with it by writing about it something that sets us apart? From the other types that is, but also from some other bloggers? I know enough bloggers that more rightfully belong to one of those well discerned categories than to this blogger type … .

  3. Admin, Ken Payton said,

    on December 7th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    You are very welcome, Amaronese. Thank you for reading!

  4. on December 7th, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you for the excellent comments Jeremy and Amaronese,I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

    Nice to have such wonderful supporters of our blog!


  5. Greybeard said,

    on December 8th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I recognised some aspects of the Romantic in me, then worried as the Professor was a little too close to home, but smiled as the Blogger filled in all the gaps!
    Great post Donna, welcome back!

  6. Sheila and Peter Badal said,

    on December 8th, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Greetings Donna, I’m just home from working at a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. My husband, Peter, says, “You have to read this wine blog.” Well, we have both known all types described. We are not in any particular one, but share parts of several.
    We did want to make a comment on the “Vacationeer”. Another aspect is buying wine on vacation , when you have been tasting wine at 2 or 3 places, decide to have lunch on the beautifully landscaped terrace, buying the absolutely marvelous, life transforming wine to take home,-then expect the wine to taste the same on a wintry, cold, gray, blustery day in Cleveland. After a few failed attempts we came up with the term, “Vacation Terrior”. We have shared this concept with a few wine makers {see above description} and they have asked for rights to use it. We would like to give that right as well.
    Cheers, Sheila and Peter Badal

  7. Donna said,

    on December 8th, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Karl,
    I am so thrilled to be back with you and Ken. It was definitely missing in my life. Very happy you enjoyed it. This article is nearly the evolution of my journey with this delicious product of the earth. I did start out as the Investor, went through my magnum phase, then the wine manners, right now I’m sort of in the Vacationer phase and committing a lot of heresy with big over oaked, 100% malo Chardonnay. Which two years ago the Professor in me would have declared an abomination.

  8. Donna said,

    on December 9th, 2009 at 6:46 am

    Sheila and Peter,

    I 100% agree with you on vactioner terroir. That’s an awesome descriptor! How many times has that happened to us. I’ve always called it an “enviornment pairing”. Where you’re having a really great time and the wine you had becomes imprinted into your memory and it’s never tasted as good ever since. One of these days I need to tell the story of my blowout and opening a bottle of Chateau Montelena with a tire iron while waiting for AAA. That wine has never tasted as good as it did that night.

    Thanks so much for “vacationer terroir”. Right on the nose!

  9. Gene said,

    on December 9th, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Hi Donna,

    I also enjoyed the article, and I enjoyed checking out the site Ken has put together. Like Karl, I catch myself in the professor and romantic mode as well, but I have the teeth of the blogger.

    I look forward to reading more.

  10. Charlotte said,

    on December 10th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Loved the post, saw my self in the Romantic and the 24 Hour Partyer, but I loved the last, the blogger – encompasses it all!

  11. Donna said,

    on December 11th, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Gene and Charlotte,

    Awesome comments! Thanks for supporting our blog!


  12. Jonathan said,

    on December 12th, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    So I went through this all and I came to the conclusion I am not the ego or the investor. I am a little vacationer but more romantic thanks to influences from someone in my life. However, I am and I probably always will be…a 24 hour party person. Long live the Parties! Viva la Vida Loca!

  13. on December 24th, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Haha, this is great. I like the hodge podge of collector categories that I fall into.

  14. Louise Hurren said,

    on December 28th, 2009 at 1:02 am

    This descriptor – “Talking endlessly to winemakers about biodynamic-beneficial bacteria retrieved from a buried cow’s horn gives them wood” – made me laugh out loud. Priceless!

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