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What is an Oenophile?

J. Leach
J. Leach

An oenophile is someone who loves and appreciates wine. Oinos is Greek for 'wine' and -phile means 'loving.' There are also a small number of wine lovers who refer to themselves as vinophiles, using the Latin term vino, which also means 'wine.' The term oenophile is most often used to describe a person who not only loves wine, but is also interested in knowing about the various nuances of the beverage. These can include which grapes were used and details about the vineyard where it was produced. Some view an oenophile as an expert connoisseur and a professional, whereas others have argued that one can be an amateur and enjoy wine as a hobby.

What separates an oenophile from the average wine drinker is a passion for wine itself. To such a person, drinking wine is an experience that is taken to a different level, since this kind of connoisseur notes the subtleties of the vintage and the actual wine-making process. Oenophiles can be either professional or a casual connoisseurs who enjoy studying wine as a hobby. Some work hard to gain the knowledge they need to manufacture wine, and to educate others. If a wine lover wishes to turn their appreciation of the beverage into a profession, there are schools that offer classes in various wine-related areas, like production and marketing.

Waitress showing a bottle of wine to a oenophile.
Waitress showing a bottle of wine to a oenophile.

Many seek out some information of oenology. This is the study of all aspects of wine. An oenologist is someone who has studied how wine is made, and wine-makers who own and run vineyards are often called oenologists. There are universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in this field.

Another profession that may interest someone with a deep appreciation of wine is the sommelier. Someone who is very knowledgeable about wine, this individual usually works for a restaurant or wine store. He is in charge of selecting, purchasing, and being informed about the vintages an establishment carries. Whereas an oenologist is educated in all aspects of wine, a sommelier’s expertise lies more in which wine should be paired with a particular food or dish. It is also imperative for a sommelier to have some knowledge of other spirits and beer.

Glasses of white wine.
Glasses of white wine.

Oenophiles can also join wine clubs. These groups often visit local wineries or plan trips abroad to vineyards in other countries. A club may attend a wine tasting and sample various vintages that are produced at that location. It is also possible to join an online wine club and have various wine groupings mailed to the home.

While not everyone can join a club, many believe that part of being an oenophile is sharing the experience of enjoying many kinds of wine. Such people often keep blogs, so they can give detailed reports about the vineyards they have visited, the wines they have tasted, and their overall assessment and rating of the beverages sampled. The Internet has made it much easier for such hobbyists to connect with one another, and to join virtual wine clubs.

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