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On one level, wine is a simple beverage. It's fermented grape juice.

On another, there is an entire sub-culture that revolves around knowing wine well, appreciating the best, and being prepared, at the drop of a clich? to say the right thing. It's a game some people play, and an art that you too can cultivate.

With the right air of disdain and haughtiness, you too can gain a reputation for knowing wine like a geek, even if you don't. Sure, you run the risk of being called a snob, but it's a lot better than people assume you only drink Moscato.

Deciding to become a snob is easier than you think. Just learn the following rules and follow them in public.

Always take price stickers off bottles that cost under $50 when serving them to friends, but leave the stickers on when serving expensive wines.

You're in an Italian restaurant and someone suggests you order a Chianti. Look disdainfully at the wine list and snort, "Pathetic. No 1978 Barolos. Not even a decent Barbaresco."

The best place to exhibit snobbism is at a snooty restaurant, preferably one with a sommelier who you can bring to his knees with some well-timed insults.

Be certain to do this only when dining with people who are sure to take note of your expertise and will be prepared to pass it along to others, so you get the maximum snob points.

When handed the wine list, no matter how large it is, always ask, "Do you have a captain's list?"

Very few restaurants have such "limited selection" lists any more, but it indicates your willingness to consider really expensive wines.

Take note of the most expensive red wine on the list. When the sommelier asks for your selection, pick up the wine glass on the table, and ask, "Do you have any Riedel Burgundies?"

When he says these are all the restaurant has, reply, "Well, I'm not ordering a good wine and then pouring it into these thimbles."

Pronounce the word "these" as derisively as possible.

Then order a bottle of Beaujolais.

You order a bottle of a red wine. After the ceremonial sip, ask the waiter for an ice bucket. He will point out that reds should be served at room temperature.

You reply, "The term is 'a chambre,' and that's about 31 degrees celsius. This flagon is warm and thus is undrinkable."

You order a chardonnay. After the waiter pours some wine into each glass at the table, he will attempt to place it into an ice bucket.

Say, "You can place it on the table. We wouldn't want to stun the beast into a catatonic state, would we?"

The wine waiter is pouring the wine for the first guest. Once he has reached the mid-point in the glass, you blurt out, "Whoa, Nellie! Filling the glass gives us no room to swirl."

After ordering a bowl of soup, ask if the restaurant has any sherry to serve with it. Few restaurants do, so you run little risk of getting a glass, but it is certainly a nice snobbish touch to ask.

Now a few terms to avoid at all costs:

Never refer to a wine glass; always say it is a stem.

Tall, narrow Champagne glasses are called flutes. If you get a flat, saucer-shaped thingy, say, "It may reflect the shape of Marie Antoinette's breast, but it was never meant for fine quality sparkling wine."

Never say a wine tastes good. Say it has breeding or character.

Don't refer to a tart wine as sour. Say it has a low pH.

And finally, never commit yourself about whether you like or dislike a wine until you know how much it cost.

Wine of the Week: 2013 Steve Kent Sauvignon Blanc, Livermore Valley, Ghielmetti Vineyard, "Lola" ($24) — This stylish and brightly aromatic, unoaked white wine has hints of tropical fruit, citrus, and an almost blossomy note. Livermore has a long history of making classic sauvignon blancs, and this wine is a special look at why they were so popular 40 years ago.

Sonoma County resident Dan Berger publishes "Vintage Experiences," a weekly wine newsletter. Write to him at winenut@gmail.com.