Why the British and (some) Americans Hate Wine Drinkers

wine hatersThis is very funny and also probably true. Peter Pharos wonders why the British hate wine drinkers.

Prohibitionists aside, how could one get angry at a drink and the people that like it? Nobody gets sarcastic if you say you like vodka (even if, well, they should). Nobody thinks aspects of your personality are dubious if you drink green tea. Why, you can even say you love the tormented ambiguity that is cider and stand tall. But start talking about wine and you can see your interlocutors transform into your least favourite aunt in real time.

After showing that the real reasons can’t be that wine is a play thing of the rich (it isn’t), boring (don’t get upset, just ignore it), or dominated by snooty sommeliers (it isn’t and they aren’t) he comes to the real reason:

Well, I am afraid the plain and simple truth is that it’s because wine is European. Not foreign, you understand. You do do foreign under certain conditions. If, for example, it can be patronisingly filed under “Empire”. Or, if it is so exotic that you can mess it up without fear of anyone calling you out (sardonic tellings of Chinese mixing wine with Coke seem to abound in the British wine trade. That’s one big pot of milky tea having strong opinions on how the kettle absorbs light folks.)  But wine is European and, as with opera and philosophy, to be European is to be pretentious, effeminate, and altogether suspect.

Yup. I don’t know the British context, although Brexit is a big, fat clue, but in the U.S. similar attitudes prevail.

Liberals have long been the subject of epithets designed to cast them as un-American, such as “Chardonnay sipping”,”latte drinking”, “volvo driving”, or “brie-eating”. Obama was once criticized for requesting Dijon mustard on his burger. Notice these are all European, or worst, Scandinavian. And who can forget the battle cry of the early 2000’s—French fries should now be called “Freedom fries”.

As Peter notes:

In the end, the awkwardness and the hostility and the sarcasm has nothing to do with snobbery, or money, or class – and much less with wine itself. It has to do with the creeping suspicion that beyond the sea, someone, somewhere, is living a better life.

You can always posit resentment, or as the French say ressentiment, as an all purpose explanation for viciousness and be close to the truth.

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