Know the Peanuts comic created by Charles M. Schulz? If you’re unfamiliar, the character Lucy plays a running gag on Charlie Brown throughout the years of the comic’s existence. Charlie Brown revs up to run and kick the ball, then Lucy pulls the football away before he can kick it.
The wine jerk is Lucy.
Someone can be a wine novice or an expert just the same but a Lucy comes along to snatch the hope in every Charlie Brown. It can be defeating — making the world of wine seem inaccessible to say the least.
There’s a difference between someone who is simply more knowledgeable on wine as a subject vs. someone who is a jerk. As with any industry, there are specialists in their field, people more skilled, more versed, more focused. The wine industry isn’t any different in that. So tell me why people find it okay to scoff at a guest who doesn’t understand Red Burgundy identifies Pinot Noir? This is a wine jerk. When your computer crashes and you take it in for fixing, the IT consultant should have zero expectation you understand IT verbiage, no matter how elementary some concepts may seem.
Here’s some ways to keep your spirits high when a wine jerk is present:
Sip, nod, and repeat. Sometimes people just want to hear themselves talk, for lack of better words. A sprinkle of “interesting” and “very interesting” comments go a long way.
Find an opening to pivot the conversation in a different direction. There is likely another subject matter of interest if the current one you’re in makes you feel stuck. Talk dogs, television, vacationing… anything! Like to use humor as a defense mechanism? Might be a good time to get your inner comedian going!
Be honest. Ever thought of simply being honest? There seems to be a shed of embarrassment that comes along with owning up to a lack of knowledge; It’s okay not to know something! Some variation of “hey, I’m new to wine so what would you suggest…” might open up a different conversation altogether. Hopefully the jerk will realize their jerkiness and come down to earth a bit. If not well….
Stand your ground, LIKE A BOSS. You have taste buds, too. No one proclaimed this jerk’s palate king/queen.
Walk away, excuse yourself. Find another group of people to drink with. Respect yourself enough to take yourself away from a barrage of insults if it comes down to it. Pour yourself a new glass and move on!
Lucys make other enthusiasts, educators, and all in-between look bad. But they have existed and will exist. Don’t let a Lucy bully you and your wine spirit. In turn, don’t become a Lucy yourself. Remember to have fun with wine and let others have their fun, too!