Palate Press has selected our top ten stories from 2012 and will publish a 2012 Redux article each weekday until January 4, 2013. These stories highlight our featured columnists, widely recognized contributors, and most popular works published through the year. The Palate Press editorial board hopes you enjoy these highlights as we look forward to bringing you the best stories for your palate in 2013.

[box] Editor’s Note: “Hatred of a straw man is a powerful force,” says Blake Gray in this column from June of this year. The monthly columnist comes to the defense of so-called “wine snobs,” those much maligned élitists of movies and New Yorker cartoons. However, the people to whom the term is applied are usually the everyday enthusiasts like you and me. –Tom Mansell, Science Editor[/box]

I was reading a baseball chat last year with Keith Law, an ESPN writer who also answers cooking questions, when the following exchange came across (it’s from memory, so might not be verbatim):

Fan: Do all wine snobs always wave their pinkies in the air?
Law: I drink beer, so I don’t know.

The “wine snob” is a pernicious villain in modern America, a witch of Salem that must frequently be rooted out and publicly flogged.

Just like the witches of Salem, the wine snob exists mostly in our imagination. He (they’re always men) is a fictitious character, like Miles in Sideways, the Stepin Fetchet of the archetype. The sports fan above thinks you, dear reader, also constantly claim you taste “the faintest soupçon of asparagus and just a flutter of nutty Edam cheese.”

Hatred of a straw man is a powerful force. Search “wine snobs” online and you find many posts about these awful creatures. People love it when they’re humiliated. Some food critics make sure you know they’re not a wine snob, even in columns where they nitpick the hell out of some poor food truck’s cheeseburger.

What IS a wine snob exactly?

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About The Author

W. Blake Gray
Staff Writer

Wine writer W. Blake Gray is Chairman of the Electoral College of the Vintners Hall of Fame. Previously wine writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, he has contributed articles on wine and sake to The Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, Wine & Spirits, Wine Review Online, and a variety of other publications. He travels frequently to wine regions and enjoys coming home to San Francisco.

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