My district supervisor is a wine snob. What sort of wine should I bring to his dinner party?
There are two main snob profiles, so I’ve got a two-pronged suggestion …
Is he a mere label chaser or a curious enthusiast with deep knowledge? That’s a critical distinction. Some people are keen on certain expensive brands and lofty appellations (because they’ve got the money to pay for them) but lack true encyclopedic knowledge and curiosity. These people don’t need to bother “wasting” their time learning a lot about wine because they can afford to buy the obvious, expensive stuff.
For this sort of person, I’d recommend an expensive red from: Bordeaux (any “grand cru classé” will do); Burgundy (“grand cru” or “premier cru”); Napa Valley (preferably cabernet sauvignon), Tuscany (Chianti riserva or Brunello di Montalcino) or Piedmont (Barolo or Barbaresco). In this case, the more you spend, the better your chances of landing a familiar label that will meet with approval. That typically means $40-plus, though you may find a good Chianti riserva for $25 to $30. Personally, I’d take a more oblique route and go for a red from the southern Rhône Valley – say, a Gigondas or Vacqueyras ($25 and up). A snob should be familiar with these cellar-worthy Rhône reds and may even be more impressed with your savvy.
The other sort of geek tends to take joy in all sorts of wines. One of the most affordable snob-approved options is cru Beaujolais. Sommeliers tend to love the stuff – for good reason. This is the elite class of red Beaujolais from such villages as Brouilly, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Fleurie and Morgon, all relatively light but wonderfully complex and food-friendly. You’ll see the village name prominently displayed on the label. They tend to sell for $20 to $30, and Morgon is arguably the top of the heap. Look for one from either 2009 or 2011, two great recent vintages.