Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Wine People - Freddy's Five Classic Wine Stereotypes

A French Stereotype.
Not an actual Frenchman.

The wine world is pretty awesome: in what other industry do you have such a strong connection with people that you have never even met before? You always have someone in common when you meet other winos and you are never short of something to talk about. There are a lot of amazing characters in wine; Oz Clarke, Etienne Hugel, Michel Chapoutier to name just a few, and we love them all.

Amongst the characters and some of our favourite ever people, we have noticed that the wine industry boasts some of the most identifiable classic stereotypes, from those who take it too seriously to the bright young things that are set for a glittering future.

In-fact, wine is rife with these stereotypes. Here is my guide to a few of the most recognised.*

Jonathan, The Fine Wine Merchant

Jonathan (Jono to his old school pals) is privately educated and was introduced to wine at the age of twelve, when he was allowed a sip of daddy's Chateau Margaux. At the
age of 18 he used to turn up to friend's dinner parties with a cheeky bottle of Chablis 1er Cru that would soon be supped by his buddies along with a dash of lemonade.

Although having gotten a degree in Politics, he ended up working in wine upon returning from his 5th gap year, thanks to one of daddy's old school friends who works for Berry Brothers and Rudd.

Jonathan now has his own Generic Fine Wine Company, which according to him is very reasonably priced, with bottles starting from as little as £35, providing you buy a case of 12. Jonathan doesn't spilt cases.

He pronounces everything in a way that makes him sound like he is taking the piss out of the queen and his default face looks like he is mid-way through a sneeze.

Outfit: A proud member of the red trouser brigade, except for when he is wearing mustard cords. He has his shirt undone just one button too many and a bright pink jumper tied around his shoulders. When hosting tastings, he swaps the jumper for an offensively tweedy jacket, with a fuck-off great handkerchief stuffed in the pocket. Hair is swept back and he looks like he has never done a days hard labour in his life. He has Phil, the warehouse boy, for the dirty work.

Stuart, The Small Independent Merchant

Stuart is in the wine industry because he has a passion for the stuff. He discovered wine whilst working in a restaurant during a ski-season in Les Deaux Alpes, just after finishing University. He got a 2:1 in something media-based.

Wanting desperately to work in the wine industry, he managed to persuade Bibendum to give him a job, not caring that it was a low position, just happy to be working in wine. After 15 years with Bibendum, Stuart flew the nest, knowing that if he wants to thoroughly immerse himself in wine, he will have to go it alone.

Stuart now has a small independent wine shop, in a converted barn, where he sells wines that he loves with all his heart and he knows everything about. He particularly likes wines with amusing labels. He puts wine into a handful of restaurants but prefers to avoid that sort of business where possible because the buggers don't pay.
He owes everything to his parents, who sold their family home to fund his passion. His mum now helps out in the shop a few days a week. His Twitter account is for both his business and his personal life, mixing pictures of his kids on a seesaw/his views on the last episode of Game of Thrones with important business updates and special offers.

Outfit: On the shop floor, Cargo shorts, a t-shirt, sturdy shoes and a pair of glasses. What ever is practical for lugging boxes around all day yet presentable enough to talk to customers. When he is hosting a tasting, Stuart comes into work wearing jeans and a smart shirt, he keeps his blazer in the back of the van until the very last minute because it's just not practical. Sleeves always rolled up.

Janet, The Master of Wine

Janet has always done pretty well for herself. She comes from a comfortable middle-class background and got a PHD in something-or-other. Either way, she's very academic.

She used to work as a waitress when she was young but before she knew it, she was restaurant manager and she saved the place from the brink. She was then head-hunted by an independent merchant who put her in charge of running the office and had a helping hand in wine buying. She reads about wine, she writes about wine and she absorbs information like a mother-fucking sponge.

Janet eventually becomes a consultant, after a stint working for wineries around the world and building a serious knowledge.
When taking her MW exams, she somehow manages to hold down a full-time job as well as look after her 3 children and husband. She comes top of her class and just to top it off, looks fierce in a red dress.

Outfit: When visiting vineyards to try and get them out of the shit, her hair is tied back and practical. She wears skinny-fit jeans and a tasteful blouse with some flowery type pattern on it (probably got it from a vintage boutique because she is fashionable too). She ALWAYS has a notepad and paper with her and some flat shoes.

When she isn't working (probably because she is at an awards ceremony of some sort) she wears that red dress that she totally pulls off because her figure rocks (she somehow finds time for regular exercise), her hair is down and her heels are high. Either way, people have some serious respect for her, and really, really want to be her.

Patrick, The Wine Writer

Much like the independent merchant, Patrick is in the wine world because he has a passion for the stuff, the difference being that he got a degree in Journalism.

Patrick is now knocking 50 and has spent years travelling the world in order to report on all sorts of wine news and producers for the national magazine for which he is a contributor. He also has his own personal blog, which is very popular among hardened wine drinkers at about his age and who seriously lack in sense-of-humour.

Patrick, unlike the independent merchant, is one of the people that makes the wine world seem rather unattractive to people who don't have a serious interest in the subject. He takes himself rather seriously and believes that wine is something that is to be studied, not enjoyed. He also mostly writes about wines ordinary people can't afford.

He is an aspiring MW but has failed his exams year after year after year. Patrick's comment pages on his website are full of people telling each other they're wrong about the entirely subjective topic of wine.

Outfit: Long sleeve, light blue linen shirt, cargo trousers and sandles WITH SOCKS! Those horrible beige coloured ones that old people wear.
 He flashes his iPad when taking notes and never looks too pleased with anything.

Tom, The Wine Warehouse Worker

Tom is in his mid-twenties. He dropped out of uni because he partied too hard and got into a bit of trouble, the wee scamp.

He is a friendly, cheerful chap who picked up a passion for wine while working as a barman in a restaurant he managed to get a few shifts in when he dropped out of uni (where he was studying Music).

His dad was always a fan of a 'good bottle of red' but in no-time Tom knew a lot more on the subject than his dad. He managed to do his level 1 and level 2 WSET courses courtesy of the restaurant he was working in, however after doing surprisingly well with his results, Tom applied for a job with Majestic.

Even doing long hours and having to deal with all sorts of morons, Tom works hard and has a smile on his face. He has a handful of wines which he is REALLY passionate about because the bloke that makes them is a fan of Metallica.

Tom is a good guy, with a bit of growing up to do. He has dreams of moving to New Zealand and getting a job in a winery one day. Tom is the future of the wine industry: we like Tom, he is eager and keen. Tom may or may not end up producing the world's most exciting new New Zealand wine for decades.

Outfit: Tom wears vans slip-on shoes that are a little worn. He has skinny jeans on that have a tear in the knee and a company polo-shirt that is about 2 sizes too small. His hair looks like he just got out of bed, because he probably did.

*It goes without saying that these examples are not based on real people, and have been exaggerated for comic effect. Any likenesses to you/us are purely coincidental. I'm pretty sure that everyone in wine knows someone who fits the bill though!

Stock images (not in any way meant to represent the stereotypes directly!) taken from ejb365SupermuchCellartours, Glukorizon & Stevendepolo's photosteams respectively, under the creative commons license. 


  1. I think I'm most like the French one at the top...

  2. you do often smell like garlic.
    I'm Janet because I look fierce in a red dress...

  3. This is funny, and oh so true!