Did you hear the one about the hipster wine-o who burned his lip drinking coffee? He drank it before it was cool.
Or this one? How much does a hipster wine-o weigh? An Insta-gram.
In April, I had the pleasure of attending the Drink Local Wine conference in Baltimore. DLW promotes wines from lesser-known and undiscovered wine regions and after morning seminars, a lunch featuring Maryland wines and a media tasting, the doors were opened to the general public for a Twitter tasting of 40-plus wines from The Old Line State. (More on what a Twitter tasting is in a moment.)
As the crowd shuffled in, to my pleasant surprise I saw about 350 of the youngest faces ever at a wine event. I patrolled the tasting tables on the sixth floor of the B&O Warehouse at Camden Yards and I overheard the most remarkable conversations.
“You have to try that Black Ankle Albariño!”
“No, no, no Boordy’s Meritage is completely ready to drink now.”
“You don’t think Slack’s sparkler needed a little dosage?”
These “kids,” all well under 30, were having animated, insightful discussions about wine. As I later discovered at a dinner with Whitney Rigsbee, a 26-year-old media relations specialist for Nomacorc, a synthetic cork manufacturer and sponsor of the DLW conference, I was witnessing the rise of the hipster wine-o.
Hipster wine-o’s, as Rigsbee describes them, are young, urban professionals that are not necessarily upwardly mobile financially, but very much into life’s finer pleasures, such as exotic coffees, unique foods, craft beers and wine (Those are her jokes up at the top, BTW). They prefer to be ahead of trends and are very much into social media. DLW’s Twitter tasting, where tasters tweeted their impressions of the wines (go to #DLW13 and #MDWine to read hundreds of tweets from the conference), trended higher than Kobe Bryant’s ruptured Achilles’ tendon and Tiger Woods’ illegal ball drop at The Master’s. All three events occurred the same weekend. That’s a lot of chatter about Maryland wine.
I wondered out loud, how is it that so many young people are into activities more typically associated with older folk?
Rigsbee speculates hipsters in general like to confound expectations— especially those of older generations. We agreed that after decades chicken nuggets and juice boxes in the back of the mini-van, hipsters prefer unprocessed, “real” foods and drinks. The term “wine geek” holds no stigma for a hipster wine-o.
As we pushed around tuna tartar and pasta with lamb bolognaise across our plates, we came up with the following checklist that playfully describes hipster wine-o’s. With apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, who definitely is not a hipster because he’d never fit in a pair of skinny jeans, you might be a hipster wine-o if…
You pass on the Two Buck Chuck. Hipster wine-o’s track down single-vineyard releases or wines from Montagnieu, France, (Hey, hipsters, check out today’s wine review). If you can get it at Trader Joe’s or Publix, no thanks.
You ask not where a wine’s grapes are grown, but how they’re grown. Hipsters only order sustainable, organic or biodynamic wines.
Oaky chardonnay is not in your vocabulary.
You have more wine-related bookmarks than you can count and at least seven wine apps for you iPhone (and one of those is in a foreign language).
You own an olive oil-treated, vegetable-tanned leather wine carrier for your fixed-gear bike. (Not making this up. Go to www.etsy.com.)
Your Saturday morning ritual is a tasting comparison of coffee beans from Latin America followed by a flight of grenaches from southern France.
You argue with friends over who Instagrammed last night’s bottle of Sancerre the best. (Check out my Instagram pic of me reviewing this week’s wine at @WineKulers.)
You flirt with the sommelier for the sole purpose of getting a taste of the restaurant’s orange wine from Croatia.
I asked Rigsbee if I might be a hipster wine-o? She made it clear that 48-year-olds who try (or really anyone who tries), only end up looking foolish. So, I guess I’ll return those skinny jeans and remain a hipster wine-o at heart.
Gil Kulers is a certified wine educator and a consultant for a metro-Atlanta wine shop. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.
— Gil Kulers, AJC Drink blog