by Brian Hanna
Tasting wine with words can range from mechanical word descriptors, drained of vitality, such as: fruit-forward, buttery and lest we forget, ‘yummy!’; to something delivered from on high, say a papal encyclical, laden with lofty abstractions.
Language is how we make sense of the worldly. Each subject needs its own language. The dilemma is that we humans tend to be verbally lazy about finding unique, specific words for what we smell and taste. It is true that unlike canines, we are nose feeble. We must relate particular smells and flavours to items and objects which they remind us of. As U.K. writer Andrew Jefford, known as The Corker, said, wines are as varied as the people we know; we have little difficulty describing our friends.
Do not be afraid of being called pretentious. Unleash your verbal resources. As a matter of course, I submit a few samples of language in action.
From Wine Enthusiast magazine:
The wine seems to glow in the glass; a Riesling trapped in the morning sun.
From Andrew Jefford:
The flavours sink slowly in the west like a holiday sunset.
From Hugh Johnson:
Ripe grapes give the wine a sense of full veins pulsing, a texture gorged with matter, the sweetness of warm fruit.
Sweet and fresh on the palate then rapidly tightening up like a silky corset around the fruit.
Again from Andrew Jefford:
A wine of cheerful banality.
From Jay McInerney, Bacchus and Me.
Tastes like the water that is left in the vase after the flowers have died and rotted.