I’ve met a bunch of wine industry professionals from all over the world, and contrary to the stereotype that they are sometimes given, they are always gracious, interesting, just generally fun to talk to, and show no air of superiority.
However you do need to get a firm understanding of the term “wine professional”.
A wine professional is someone who has taken the firm decision in their mind that wine (in one form or another) is their chosen career path.
A wine professional IS NOT someone who has seen the movie Sideways a few too many times (memorizing the names of the Pinot’s in that one restaurant scene), someone who berates you for drinking a particular style of wine (with the exception of Boone’s Farm or MD 20/20 et al), or someone who takes every opportunity to regurgitate the smallest amount of insignificant (and often misinformed) wine trivia!
As a general rule, people in the wine industry love to talk about their job. I find that this is one of the few career paths where this rings true. After all, how many postal workers or accountants etc., do you meet that wax poetic about their profession?
I would like to conclude with this: I have a collection of wine books at home stacked to about my shoulder height (of which I’ve worked my way through about 90%), and wine magazines (100% read) that are taking over the spare bedroom. All-in-all I have learnt more about wine from true wine professionals than any other source! I strongly advise you to find your own “wine professional”, whether it be a retailer, close personal friend, Sommelier, or wine blogger. You’ll be surprised how much time and money they can save you!
Here’s a quick tip to test if who you’re talking to is a true wine professional: Ask them what their thoughts are on Riesling.
If they reply that all Riesling’s are always sweet, and that they personally wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole. You have found yourself a non-wine professional.
If they reply that Riesling’s vary in levels of sweetness depending on the region’s from which they hail, are all too often mistaken as tasting like sugar water, and in fact can be one of the most delicious styles of white wine that shows the truest expression of terroir. Congratulations! You’ve found yourself a wine professional.