Wine is stuffy, snobbish, and boring. But it’s also casual, welcoming, and exciting.

When I started out in wine, I was so eager to get inside and understand how the industry operated.

Fast forward 4 years, and I’m questioning everything. I’m a guest sitting at a black-tie dinner unsure about which fork to use. Meanwhile, the members of this club are arguing about the predominant grape for Right Bank and Left Bank Bordeaux.

I said to myself, “This is Wine Facts 101. Worst yet, you’re at a tasting for Bordeaux Wine Enthusiasts.”

“I’ve spent the past 6 months dedicating my free time to learning about canopy techniques in vineyard management of Bordeaux wines, and you can’t even bother to know the basics.”

And suddenly, I hated everything I had become.

Studying for wine exams and working in the industry completely blinded me from outsiders. Even worse, I wasn’t an outsider that long ago.

As I reflected on the wine in my glass, I abandoned the wine tasting framework that I had programmed myself to use on every sip. I ditched aromas for an awakening.

On my third day working in wine retail, I was looking at Bordeaux and Burgundy wines. Positioned across the aisle from each other, both wines had “Premier Cru” on the label. Surely, this must mean something?

That silly false connection opened my world to how complicated the wine world is. And how the same phrase on wines labels from the same country can mean something completely different.

I returned to the store a couple days later, and I talked to a co-worker about my troubles.

He said, “Dude, I never thought about connecting those terms because I’m so beyond it my studying. But, you’re right, that’s incredibly confusing. You should come taste with my friends next week. We’d be happy to teach your more about wine.”

As a wine snob, you look down at the attempts of others and you ignore their struggles. As a wine geek, you’re excited about the effort and you recognize the thirst for knowledge in others.

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