This photo was taken at the Brokenwood Graveyard lunch back in late may of last year and about 2 months before we started this whole Wine Wankers caper. It’s probably the most wine wanker get-up I’ve ever worn and that day I did wear it with pride. One of my very first blog posts was about how well I fitted in with that jacket! I had absolutely no idea at that stage of the journey ahead of me.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term “wine wanker” I’ll fill you in. It’s a term I’d heard a little bit of in the past but it wasn’t until I was invited to a wine drinking game called “wine wankers” did I really get to know of it. This game is a type of wine options game where wine is placed into paper bags, sampled, and everyone guesses what wine is what. In short, it’s a fun game but the idea really is to act like “wine wankers” by showing how good you are at picking the wines. The reality of this event though was that we all just got mightily tipsy. So my first real encounter with “wine wankers” was fun.
I’m sure that I don’t need to fill you all in on the various meanings of the word “wanker”. I think some people have interpreted our name to mean “people who love wine so much that they stroke the bottle over wine all the time”. LOL… I can see where that one is coming from, and I kinda like that interpretation, but no, that’s not quite it (although wine does excite us).
The term “wine wankers” has really been used in Australia as a derogative term for passionate wine drinkers, especially those who try to show others that they know something about wine, often in a way that makes others feel inadequate. They are the wine snobs with a serious high-brow view of wine. We like to keep each other on a level playing field in this country so calling someone a “wine wanker” is a way to bring the overly enthusiastic wine drinker back down to Earth especially if they are a bit of a “smart-arse” about their position with wine.
So, why then would we go and call ourselves The Wine Wankers? Sometimes we ask ourselves that question, but in the end, it has been a key part of our success. It’s a name that gets attention and is never forgotten. It’s also polarizing in that it’s either attractive or it’s a bit scary. Luckily, either way, it has all worked out in our favour.
We didn’t sit around and think of a name that would gain attention, it was all spontaneous. My brother-in-law Stuart and I are both passionate wine drinkers and we’d spend quite a bit of time at family functions drinking good wine and chatting about it. The rest of our family aren’t quite as enthusiastic so we’d joke that we’re the “wine wankers” of the family. After one discussion last July, as told here, we decided to write a blog about our passion. It was all in good fun and it has gained some serious legs since that moment. Strange how things happen.
The funny thing is, as Neal wrote in “Don’t be a wine wanker!‘, by comparison to many people in the wine industry we are probably one of the least wine wanking lot out there. And right there is my issue and the conundrum I am writing about. Amongst my “less than enthusiastic about wine as ourselves” family, we’re wine wankers, but compared to some wine people who take themselves a little too seriously our namesake becomes an oxymoron.
Being a somewhat negative term, although I’d like to think we’re lightening its meaning up a bit, no one in wine wants to be an actual wine wanker. The thing is, and I’ve really noticed this since we started our caper, it seems that the more knowledge about wine someone has the harder it is for them not to be a wine wanker. There’s a lot of very knowledgeable wine people who try hard to come across as being connected to the average wine drinker, and some have even made videos on “how not to drink wine like a wanker”, but in the end many still find it hard to truly connect with the “wine drinker on the street”. Sure, they are no doubt nice people but they can’t help but display their knowledge because not to do so would be letting themselves down.
But is it actually the display of wine knowledge that defines the wine wanker or is it when they use their knowledge to create an air of superiority that the wine wanker truly comes into being?
And here is my problem. It’s getting hard not to be a wine wanker… but I’m onto it! We’ve been very fortunate to gain a real and proper following and much of that has been on the wing of a connection to the average wine drinker rather than on showing off our knowledge. The thing is, my wine knowledge has exploded exponentially since we started last year and I too am finding it difficult not to describe wine in more detail because I know so much more. This may appeal to the more knowledgeable wine person that follows us (who might be bored otherwise) but to most wine drinkers they really don’t care for too much detail. They just want to know if a wine is good, and moreso, if we had fun drinking it.
So, my dilemma moving forward is going to be how to make sure that I keep a handle on the wine wanker monster and how to stay connected with our core readers who just want to hear our wine stories without too much wank. If being a wine wanker is just about gaining knowledge and sharing it then I’m fine with being a wine wanker but if it means that a level of arrogance develops then I’m not up for that. I’d like to think I’ve got the monster tamed, but forgive me if it escapes from time to time. I vow not to use my growing wine knowledge as a weapon and I must make sure that it never corrupts…
First world problems.