Australia's coffee snobs have a new rival in snobbery

You already know what a macchiato is, and a piccolo, and a ristretto and a latte. That's because you're Australian, and you're a coffee snob.

Australians have been coffee snobs for a while now. We've been demanding good coffee in our homeland, and we've been complaining about everyone else's terrible coffee when we've been travelling.

Think, for a second, about the small, silent fist pump you do when you see the words "flat white" on the menu at a foreign café. Consider the disappointment you feel upon seeing a sign like "free refills" at an American diner. It might as well say, "Our coffee is going to suck."

So yes, this Australian coffee snobbery is a thing. But that's not where our snootiness ends. There's a good chance, too, that's we've become food snobs, given our general level of obsession with cuisine, and cooking shows, and the recent ascension of two of our restaurants into the 50 Best list.

No longer do we have to make cringy references to lamingtons and pavlovas when discussing our national cuisine. We have our own distinct style these days, which is something I realised a few days ago when I took some Swedish friends out for brunch in Bondi to welcome them to the country.

We sat down, looked at the menu, and then when my friend Johan pointed at something on his card: "What's karl-ay?" I looked at the word. "Oh, that's kale. You better get used to seeing that."

We like kale in Australia. At least, we do at the moment. We also like ancient grains and chia seeds and activated almonds. We like legit Thai food and good Vietnamese. We know our tom yum from our som tum.

Maybe it's a sign of sophistication. The more you know about something, the more discerning you can be. If you've only ever drunk lukewarm filter coffee and eaten meat pies, you're in no position to demand something different. Maybe Australian snobbery shows how far we've come.

If that's the case, then I have a feeling we should be prepared for a new wave of snobbery. We've had coffee and we've had food. We're probably going through beer as well (are you having a VB, or a hand-crafted IPA from the microbrewery down the road?). And there's something else we're developing a deep interest in: wine.


Are we set to become a nation of wine snobs? I have a feeling the answer is most definitely yes.

I had this epiphany over the weekend, while standing around at a cellar door in the Clare Valley listening as a knock-around Aussie bloke indulged in the most colossal wine wankery you've ever witnessed.

"You know what the nose reminds me of?" this guy said to anyone who'd listen, swishing a Semillon around in his glass and taking large lungfuls of the scent. "Have you tried a Margaret River chardonnay, the Leeuwin Estate Art Series? It's just like that."

The winemaker stared at him. "But it's not a chardonnay."

"Oh, I know, I know. But the nose. Very reminiscent."

Obviously, you get these types all around the world. But in Australia? Apparently we have them here as well. And they're not exactly a rare breed – although most wine snobs aren't as insufferable as that guy.

Go into any cellar door in the Barossa, however, or the Yarra Valley, or Hunter Valley, or Margaret River, or even in any restaurant with a decent wine list, and you'll hear people who seem to know what they're talking about. They know their malolactic from their maceration, in the same way everyone else knows their macchiato from their piccolo. Australians know wine.

And if you ever wanted proof of the oncoming tsunami of wine wankers, check out the baffling obsession that Australians are developing with "natural wine", which smells like a jockstrap and doesn't taste a whole lot better, and yet people who know wine seem to love it. The first step towards snobbery, surely, is blind devotion to something niche and interesting despite its obvious shortcomings (cough – kale).

For the general punter, wine snobbery comes in the form of knowledge, and in the confidence that what we're doing in Australia, the wine we're making here, is pretty great. Most Australian drinkers now know their favourite grape varietal, and their favourite region from which to source it. They know that good wine shouldn't be pegged to the Hills Hoist, or drunk in a West Coast Cooler.

They know what's good and what's bad. They know that when they travel to Old World countries, to Italy and France and Spain, some of the wines they drink there are not going to be as good as the stuff they can get back home. And there's no embarrassment involved in declaring that fact.

I don't think anyone is yet wandering around Tuscany complaining that they can't find a decent sangiovese. But it probably won't be long. For a nation of laidback larrikins, we do snobbery pretty effectively. We've had the practice.

Do you think Australia is becoming a nation of wine snobs? Or should we just stick to coffee and food?



​See also: Six of the world's best scenic wine regions

See also: Australia's best wine region now has food that's just as good

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