Check Your Wine Privilege!

wineprivilegeI’ve been hearing a lot lately about “Wine Privilege”. I investigated.

Apparently, “Wine Privilege” is a term for benefits that accrue to people identified as wine lovers beyond what are commonly experienced by non-wine lovers. It’s insidious and whether you recognize it or not, if you love wine, you possess wine privilege.

Examples of wine privilege abound.

If you can open a bottle of wine using a complicated tool that includes levers and handles, you possess wine privilege.

If you properly pronounce “Gewürztraminer” without problem or self-consciousness, you possess wine privilege.

If you can and do swirl wine in a glass without spilling it, you possess wine privilege

If you can and do quickly scan restaurant wine lists without suffering from information overload or fear of failing, you possess wine privilege.

If you can identify the aromas of tar, lead pencil or cassis in a wine, you possess wine privilege.

Wine privilege is nothing new. It has been a stain on America’s drinking history from the very founding. While folks like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin exercised their wine privilege on two continents, many Americans never moved past consuming cider or rum.

It is important that wine lovers work to check their wine privilege; to recognize the benefits of their unearned status that many others can’t begin to utilize as they remain impacted daily by their love of beer or whiskey; to realize that all drinkers matter.

As a possessor of wine privilege, you can work to diminish the impact that our society has on non-wine drinkers by doing a variety of things. Beware of the micro-aggressions that result from unconsciously swirling your wine when among those that can’t. Or choose a wine with a twist-off cap when in the company of non-wine drinkers so as not to make them uncomfortable by your use of a complicated tool. And support efforts to create safe spaces for non-wine drinkers where they are not forced to be exposed to wine and the privilege that accrues to those that drink it.


4 Responses

  1. Craig Stancliff - February 7, 2017

    Not quite sure you accomplished your intent with this post, which was? An unknowledgeable, inexperienced retailer or a full of himself/herself Somm. is more of a detriment to new wine drinkers, I think.

  2. Frances Latham - February 7, 2017

    Surely a lighthearted and gentle reminder to knowledgeable wine people to remember their good manners and not make those who are not “wine people” uncomfortable.

    Either that, or wine people are being subjected to reverse snobbishness; in which case, I repeat, remember your good manners anyways!

    • Craig Stancliff - February 7, 2017


  3. John Skupny - February 9, 2017

    The Gewurztraminer one reminded me of one of my favorite wine posters of all time;
    “If you cannot pronounce Gundlach-Bunshu Gewurtztraminer you should not be driving”

Leave a Reply