How to Impress a Wine Nerd
Order a bottle from this obscure wine region.
A few months back I was eating at Sexy Fish, a current darling in London’s Mayfair, when I came face to face with that most loathsome of all creatures: the upselling sommelier. As soon as I picked up the wine list, he materialized unsolicited and pointed to either the most expensive, or a few times—magnanimously—the second-most expensive bottle of wine in each category, describing them as “magnificent,” as if he were letting me in on a revelation that a £400 bottle of wine would be magnificent.
In such situations you can simply demur and hope the pest leaves, or you can put them back on their heels.“Do you have any wines from the Jura?” I asked. He fumbled and muttered,
“Ah no, they seem to be quite the thing these days,” before mercifully beating a retreat. The truth was I didn’t even want a wine from the Jura—my wife is not a fan—but it’s important to have it as a go-to to counter wine snobbery.
The jerk was right: the wines from the Jura—a mountainous area near France’s border with Switzerland—are quite the thing these days. Their signature wine is vin jaune, a slightly oxidized wine that resembles sherry more than anything from the neighbouring wine region of Burgundy.
It’s made from the obscure savagnin grape, picked at an advanced stage of ripeness and then placed in oak barrels for an extended time, and as evaporation happens, the wine is exposed to oxygen and oxidizes. Oh yeah, it’s expensive, too. But in a wine world that’s increasingly homogenized, it’s that rare bird—a unique wine, all nuts and waxiness, with a crazy sense of history.
To dip your toes into the Jura, try this widely available, well-priced white from Domaine la Rosière—it’s all chalky and minerally and works like kryptonite on bad sommeliers.