By The Glass
Tastings lingo can lead to odd descriptions
I'VE lost count of how many wine tastings I have attended or put together. I really have fun doing what I do. Part of that fun comes from seeing people enjoy wine, and some of it comes from the absolutely hilarious descriptions that people use to describe wine.
I often ask guests to think of a FEW things - an acronym that I use to remind people of what to look for in wine. F is for fruit or flowers, because wine comes from fruit and it can smell like so many other fruits despite coming from only one type of grape. E is for earth, because many wines can smell and taste earthy. Grapes are still grown in the ground - not hydroponically, yet. And W stands for wood, because so many wines are aged in oak and this wood marks the wine with a myriad characters.
But often I am amazed at the descriptions people come up with on their own.
Here are some of my favorite descriptors. See if you can relate - or are we drinking some really weird wines?
Bandages: A young lady described a pinot noir as smelling like Band-Aids. I should have asked whether they smelled new or used. It could be that the glue in Band-Aids includes a resinous chemical that reminds people of some form of sulfur that is used in winemaking. Sometimes - and more often - a tainted glass is to blame, if it has not been polished and has residual dishwashing soap (among other things) on the surface.
Pavement: This sounds like earth to me, but I'm not sure the taster was thinking about asphalt or concrete. Or could it be the smell of a fresh rain as it evaporates off the hot pavement? I haven't seen any vineyards grown on pavement, yet.
Sugar: It sounds sweet, but have you actually put your nose in a jar of sugar? There's not much smell. The same goes for salt. But the wine certainly reminded someone of something sweet. Maybe caramel or jam or ripe fruits.
Vodka: This was used to describe a wine with a tremendously high alcohol content. If I'm not mistaken it was 15.9 percent! Pure alcohol doesn't have much scent, but you can literally feel the alcohol burning your nose hairs (if you have them) and through to your sinuses!
Old shoe: I think this taster was referring to a leathery note in the wine, or was it a scent of rubber? Or maybe, stink toe jam s! Not nice in any wine, I don't care what it is. I don't think she liked it either.
Cheese: Don't get me started on cheese. Do you know how many cheeses there are in France alone? There are even cheeses with truffles in them, but I don't think this taster was talking about that. I think she was talking about something moldy and stinky. Again, either way it's something that I don't often enjoy in wines.
And maybe my favorite - sex: Someone else in the room said, "With whom?" The taster was probably referring to a mix of musky, sweat, pheromone-filled perfume. Now that's something I personally don't mind.
2007 Berger Gruner Veltliner, Austria ($14 per liter bottle):
This is a fun and delicious wine to gulp down. It has a wonderful aroma of bananas, papaya and citrus, and a cleansing and bright finish.
2004 Clos Abella, Priorat, Spain ($65): A really sexy wine with a huge black-fruit component wrapped up in a very polished but thick wine. Hedonistic!
Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier and wine educator with Southern Wine & Spirits. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org