Wine is a subject close to my heart, but my description of wines is limited to two words: “Yummy,” and – oh, who are we kidding, that’s it, really. A few years ago, I tried studying the little wheel with all the aromas but, honestly, I couldn’t tell my tree moss from my old band-aid (yes, really), so I gave up.
Now my snobbery is limited to buying bottles over $15 each so the bottle shop guy doesn’t think I’m a cheap lush, when really I’d rather buy the 2L cask and be done with it. (See, I care what the 18 year old food technology student at Dan Murphy’s thinks of me; but you, not so much.)
So what are reviewers and wine marketers trying to do with this whole other language that seems to have been invented around wine?
It seems laughable now, but originally the intention of writing descriptions was to convey what wines tasted like so we would know which one we wanted to buy. Over time, however, crazy marketing folk have gone nutso on their own products and what started out as some mildly competitive piss-taking has turned into a serious multi-squillion-dollar wankfest.
Descriptions of some wines now have absolutely nothing to do with what is in the bottle, and everything to do with what some 45-year-old virgin in a tweed jacket thinks sounds sexy.
Check out this great breakdown of 40 wine descriptions and what they really mean.
Here are some of my favourite descriptions going around:
It might be called liquefied Viagra. An incredibly sexy nose of smoke, black fruits, cappuccino, and toasty wood is followed by an expansive, terrifically concentrated wine with a sumptuous texture, no hard edges, beautifully integrated acidity and tannin, and a long, 35 second finish.
Verbena, aloe vera, melisse, lemon-balm, and finally the usual apple; the palate as always is shady and cool, though more overtly mineral than usual, but the finish crescendos into a salty tide that clings and doesn’t quit.
This cuvee is a real treat as it flirts with perfection. Already revealing some pink and amber at the edge, the color is surprisingly evolved for a wine from this vintage. However, that’s deceptive as the aromatics offer incredible aromas of dried flowers, beef blood, spice, figs, sweet black currants and kirsch, smoked game, lavender, and sweaty but attractive saddle leather-like notes. Full-bodied and massively endowed, with abundant silky tannins, it possesses the balance to age for 30+ years.
On the flipside, some are perhaps a little too frank. This description is for a $2 bottle from the US ambitiously called Drinkable Merlot:
A bunch of grapes, and they’re smooshed, and then they get kind of rotten, and we drain off the alcohol part and that’s the part you drink, and then you’re drunk. Are you going to finish that burger?
The lesson for today: Wine is awesome but don’t be a knob about it. Now extrapolate this lesson into all facets of your writing and stop being a knob in your PowerPoint presentations, annual reports and emails. And never, ever, ever describe anything as ‘full-bodied and massively endowed’ unless you are writing porn.