“Can you pick up just a hint of vanilla?” asks the director of the wine tasting.
Why yes, I think I do. But I would never have come up with that on my own. Therefore, I will sometimes read tasting notes for a wine I have recently enjoyed. “I like this wine, but why?”
Apparently, my palette so unsophisticated that I need someone to tell me what I’m tasting.
People that write tasting notes are full of it. They are snobs, and they go to great lengths to put their snobbery on display.
I was reading tasting notes for a particular cabernet sauvignon, and it said I should ‘experience’ licorice (yuck), chocolate (yum), leather (uh..) and lead pencil.
Seriously? I haven’t had a lead pencil in my mouth since second grade, and best I recall it wasn’t to see if the #2 lead tasted better than the #4. (Leather, by the way, is popular in whiskey tasting notes, but we’ll do that some other time.)
Right now, I want to up your status in life. With my help, you too can be a wine snob. Let’s get started.
It all boils down to proper verbiage. For example, while it’s proper to call a wine ‘red wine’, you never us the word ‘red’ to describe its color. Use purple, violet, even ruby.
It was recently written of a particular red wine that it “pours a lovely violet color with some light reddish rusty hues on the edges”. That’s wine snobbage for, “reckon why they call it red wine when it ain’t red at all?”
It’s very popular to relate what you’re tasting to the ground. ‘Earthy’, ‘foresty’, ‘loamy soil’ are common ways to do this. It’s even OK to use the word ‘dirt’, but you want to be careful. There’s a big difference in saying, “I taste the dirt” and “this wine tastes like dirt”.
Wine snobs use key words, like ‘notes.’ This word is often used for plant material, from fruits to grasses: notes of sawgrass, or notes of pear, even notes of underbrush, because I was just eating some underbrush yesterday and it tastes just like this wine.
Another popular word is ‘hint’. Tasters will sometimes use ‘hint’ for flavors that might not be so appealing but are there, nonetheless. A hint of tobacco or a hint of tar.
This is just a start, but I encourage you to put your new knowledge to work.
Go forth, nose held high in the air, and impress everyone in the room at your next gathering. Proclaim aloud and with confidence, “This wine taste like grapes! With notes of pine straw and a hint of dog poop.”
That wine would be from a southern winery, likely. One with a dog.