I Say Tomayto and You Say Tomato


Halfway through the WSET Diploma, I am a wine student. Employed in wine retail, I am a wine salesperson. But we’re all called wine geeks, no matter how we’re engaged or employed, since this level of seriousness renders us that particular peculiar, unfortunate and current nomenclature.

But I’m not a geek. The term, as it’s come to be used today, is goofy and sophomoric. Traditional usage of geek was much worse, having originally carried meanings as varied and negative as socially inept, dimwitted and freakish; its current usage is as good as it has evolved. I’d argue that it looks okay attached to the word technology, not wine. But all the older wine identifiers are equally poor. I’m not a wine lover, a term that conjures Bacchic rapture. My classmates and I are wine students, though the word awkwardly suggests short pants and book bags. Flying winemakers, UC-Davis Ph.Ds and Masters of Wine can claim the term expert. And haughty wine aficionado sounds like someone who simply enjoys more upgrades than a plain wine tourist.

So what’s a wordsmith to do? I’m not a wine writer until I’m paid to smith my wine words; and wine blogger is confining and slightly demeaning. Wine groupie? Sounds like sex with winemakers. Wine follower suggests pious devotion to holy scripture…which in all honesty does approach the reverential spirit with which wine people treat the subject and its matter. Maybe the derogatory term wino could be rehabilitated; it can’t be worse than the freakish beginnings of geek to its present state of nerdy respectability.

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