Winemaker Newsroom


Wannabe “wine snobs”

For those of you that know me (or think they do), you know that I love practical jokes and the more disguised, the better!  And sometimes, very seldom, true irony is one of the greatest gifts of enjoyment that we can receive!

This true tale goes back to my days of making wine from “kits,” pre-packaged juice. I started this hobby in 2006 in a downstairs unused bedroom – perhaps 10 X 12 in size. I had a system that I liked: a 3 X 5 table that I lifted the fermenting and aging kits onto and utilized gravity to “rack” – transfer wines from container to container. With my system, I could have up to 8 kits in carboys on my small table and on several instances did fill up the table!  I believe that the picture below was this exact instance I’ll refer to later in this article!

During my first 6 years of making wine, I never bought a new wine bottle, I always re-used old bottles. I took a painstaking amount of time to soak, then scrape off the front and back labels, then sanitize the insides of my wine bottles. I was always looking for bottles, as I gave many bottles away and didn’t receive many back. I had one friend that must have had a fantastic source for empties. He would drop off cases and cases of either Hess or Clos Du Bois Chardonnay bottles, all matched and I think just emptied – perhaps a busy restaurant or hotel or caterer.

The process of soaking the bottles, then scraping off the labels was okay, unless some of the types of bottles had a “Gorilla” style glue used. Many Australian types, especially Yellow Tail as I remember, were almost impossible to remove, so I would begrudgingly toss those bottles.

Well, the Hess and Clos Du Bois were that type of bottle, really hard to cope with. At the time, when I was making so many kits – I had a particular kit I loved, (sadly, I checked and it is not made anymore), but it was called – Chardasia – part Chardonnay and part Malvasia, a grape to date I have never heard of or seen. It was just a wonderful, easy drinking Chardonnay style wine, no oak, not buttery, but probably my favorite. I had 3 of these kits going at the same time – so the math says 90 bottles needed, or about 8 to 9 cases!

Yes, and you’re way ahead of me – I simply left the labels on – sanitized the insides and filled them with the Chardasia kit wine and put a cork in the bottle. As most of the wine was shared with friends or poured in house, it was a real labor saver for me.

So, that was the background, the story now! Morph forward about 2 months or so.

A former co-worker had hosted a wonderful Christmas party for years and years that we attended and really enjoyed. It was perhaps after the fifth or sixth time attending that Noel and I committed that we had to invite them to our house to show our appreciation for their hospitality.

As is mentioned in the “Fargo” movie and TV series, the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but everything else is exactly true! And we invited them – and I’ll use a couple of aliases as this story has never been shared with them!  Fred and Wilma Flintstone accepted our invitation to visit for libations and a meal on a Saturday. Knowing that they were VERY aggressive white wine drinkers, I put about 8 bottles – 4 of each of the “labeled” Hess and Clos Du Bois in the bottom of my refrigerator to get them chilled.

They arrived early afternoon, and we had proceeded to dip into perhaps 4 or 5 bottles of the pseudo Chardonnay!  Yes, 4 or 5 bottles!  As Wilma was easing into the kitchen area from the living room area, being the great host I am, I asked Wilma if she would care for another glass of wine?

“Oh yes, please, but I’d really prefer the Hess – you know, I’m a bit of a wine snob you know!”  Her exact words!  Well, my partner Noel looked at me and I looked at her, and we couldn’t even get a word out to clarify the situation. I made an executive decision that we wouldn’t make mention of the “wine” type, source, or difference or lack of, actually mostly based on her comment.

We had not intended to mislead or falsify what we were pouring, but after her mention of her superior level of wine appreciation, I didn’t want an issue to arise on our use of sneakily pouring them “fake” wines. The remainder of the evening went well – I think we left about one bottle in the bottom of the refrigerator! We were invited again to their Christmas party. I brought several of my other “homemade” wines – each with a label indicating that they were mine that I planned to share with the guests.

Well, count me pretty surprised, but Wilma refused, yes, refused to even present them to the other guests! As I mentioned at the start of this article, I love irony and practical jokes!  So in my mind, as neither the “Hess / Clos Du Bois” wines or the wines I brought to Flintstone’s Christmas party were intended to be a prank or deceit, I did appreciate the true irony of both of the instances of the Pseudo Wine Snob thinking that her taste buds and palate were so exceptional that she could detect the differing notes of exactly the same homemade wine and at her house to protect her guests to not allow my other wines to even be tasted! Well, I quietly took each of the 3 bottles around to the guests throughout the party and had completely empty bottles in about 15 minutes and quite a few impressed happy home wine drinkers clamoring for more!

I really enjoy recalling this occasion; it keeps things in perspective for me. Do drink what you like and don’t take yourself too seriously! We are thinking that 2022 will be a great year for our group as we get back to quarterly educational seminars, and most of the other activities we’ve enjoyed prior to this COVID stuff. Wishing all safety, health, and a wonderful 2022. Yabba Dabba Doo!

Home winemaking remains an extremely rewarding hobby and one of my favorite “activities.” Those new members that want to try, we mentor, we educate, and we help you on your journey. Contact me if you have an interest in starting an enjoyable lifelong pass-time at or by phoning me at 949.981.5087.

Best to all, cheers!

Bill Forsch, Winemakers’ Group Chair