Welcome to Wine Trends, a tongue-in-cheek look at the world of wine and its inhabitants.
Welcome to Napa Valley, Texas.
Where everything is big: big tasting rooms, big egos, and big wine.
In this veritable adult Disneyland, among the crowds of tourists angling to take the perfect photo in front of the Napa Valley sign, you will find these genuine specimens. They are likely to be sporting a bright patterned polo, fresh off the morning tee-time, a “stogie” secured in their front pocket, and lugging around an excess 30-40 lbs from “living the good life.” They don’t want to be there, being forcefully dragged to experience the wine country by their wife[ or girlfriend/mistress]. Now that they have involuntarily arrived, they beat their chests proudly and challenge the “wine nerds” in the nearest vicinity. The challenge is to bring them the biggest, boldest, most tannic, most expensive Cabernet Sauvignon money can buy, and good sense can vinify: something barrel aged, preferably Bourbon-barrel.
These are the “Cabernet Fathers”; today, we will analyze what makes these unique creatures tick… David Attenborough style!
Who are these creatures?
It is reasonably easy to say that Cab Fathers are boys… ahem… men! Manly men, man’s men, definitely not girls. They don’t even know the meaning of “non-binary”; that’s how macho these fellows are. In their heads, they are a combination of Burt Reynolds, Thomas Shelby, and a Ford F150. They like their beer cold, their coffee bitter and black, and their whiskey [and sons] straight. They have spent years building up their fragile masculinity brick by toxic brick and are ready to lay down their lives to protect it. And here, in a near-sterile tasting room setting, they face yet another challenge: a foofy girly grape drink served in a prissy crystal chalice that you sip instead of shotgun, preferably ‘pinkies up.’
The Cab-Daddy Behavior
If you happen to encounter a Cab-Daddy in the tasting room, be aware that they are most likely out of their native environment, and their masculinity is in peril. Proceed with caution. If you are forced to interact with one of these creatures, say, as an underpaid, barely out-of-college hospitality associate, you must get acquainted with their behavior and understand the reasoning behind their erratic, downright embarrassing behaviors.
He knows the owner
The first thing the “Adult Frat Bro” is likely to do is to assert himself and make himself feel more important. It may be subtle, like flashing the clip full of crisp $20s, or an unprompted humble brag about his job. In the most extreme and amusing instance, the self-proclaimed “Alpha male” will fabricate a connection with someone significant, often the winery’s owner. Something to the effect of;
“Oh yeah, I know [owner of the winery/restaurant, by first name], and he and I used to play golf together. How is that sonofagun?”
Don’t fall for this trick; 95% of the time, the proclamation is a lie.”
Nothing but the Best
Once proving his worth, the man-child will demand the “most expensive flight/wine you got.” He is well aware of how much that will cost (maybe $40-60 a head), so he has accounted that he can make the statement without incurring any financial troubles.
Be aware he will want to go a-la-carte, to substitute all the white wines for reds, if only for himself (not for his wife; she can drink white; she’s a girl, after all). Depending on his familiarity with grapes, he may also demand that all Pinot Noirs on the list be stuck down and replaced with Cabernet Sauvignons. After all, Pinots are light and soft, like the son he “doesn’t want to talk about,” and Cabs are big, bold, and tannic, like a Ford F150. It will save you in the long run if you can accommodate his desires. Don’t try to convince him; show him the folly of his way; he will feel a threat to his fragile masculinity.
If you work at a winery focused on light, elegant wines (say, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay house in Carneros), you may have a bit of a challenge. Good luck.
Flexin’ the Knowledge
The Big Cabernet guy is significant, you know that. He drinks nothing but the best; you are well aware now. He doesn’t always drink wine, but when he does, he prefers it big and burly. But did you know he is also cultured?
Of course, he knows wine….right?
Unfortunately, the only problem for him now is that Rogan or Peterson don’t talk about wine too much. So he will dive deep into the back of the subconscious and pop out some ludicrous “facts” about wine that will leave you dumbfounded.
He may not know anything about wine, but he knows all about hospitality, and servers at his favorite steakhouse never back-talk him- and neither will you.
Just smile and nod, hiding the pain. It will all be over soon. Unless you have an hour-and-a-half-long tour, then you are f*ed.
All Worth it in the end..right?
If you are an up-and-coming tasting room associate like I once was, you may think, “Yes, this guy is a prick, but at least he will buy a bunch of wine or give a fat tip, and all this bullsh*t will be worth it.” You may have even poured extra “off-the-list” cabs for the self-aggrandizing bigshot.
Big mistake. You weren’t paying attention.
No matter how rich he is, you will not get a penny from him. The wine is always much better somewhere else, or they had already bought a bunch of wine that was much more expensive than yours. You didn’t provide good enough service, so there is no issue in stiffing you for the tip. They would have done the whole tasting and tipped you out well, but they got the reservation at “The Laundry” to catch, and- since they didn’t drink all of your cabs- they deserve a discount, right?
The excuses of this male Karen are endless.
I write this article with no one particular in mind, but I have certainly experienced such people in my 5-year career working in tasting rooms in Napa and Sonoma. The purpose of these articles is to poke fun at some of the unspoken wine stereotypes, and the self-important asshole who only drinks Cabernet Sauvignon is as much of a Napa staple as Bouchon or Ana’s Cantina (iykyk). Much like Disney Adults or people who are way too much into anime, they provide a sustainable source of irritability and entertainment for those who make hospitality their career. After all, bitching about customers is a staple of any customer service gig.
So let’s raise a glass of over-extracted, overoaked, generic Cabernet to the Cab Daddy, knowing full well they won’t read this and, even if they do- won’t take the hint.
Never change, King!
Check out more irrelevant content in the Wine Trends Series
[Editor’s Note] I couldn’t really find articles to link to [maybe because this topic is incredibly dumb], but they want SEO, so I am going to give them SEO. Does anyone remember ManCan? It was (or is?) a wine in a can marketed to men. Hillarious. Check the link, maybe. Why? I don’t know