Tips & Tricks: How To Come Up With Wine Flavour Descriptions

15 08 2011

If only it were that easy...

Believe me, I used to be at the front of the line making fun of wine folk for picking guava, pomegranate, shoe leather, pencil shavings and innumerable other bizarre tastes and aromas out of a glass of boozy grape juice.  The whole process seemed overwrought and fanciful at best and horribly pretentious at worst — not the kind of thing I’d ever sign off on.  But as I started getting more and more into wine, and then as I started WRITING about being into wine, I began to see the method to the madness (or I drank the Kool-Aid and joined the legions of uptight overanalyzers, depending on your point of view) and understanding the necessity behind the efforts people put into sorting out what’s in their glass.  By far the coolest and most interesting thing about wine is that, unlike almost any other alcoholic beverage that starts out from a piece of fruit, it ends up smelling and tasting like so many other things apart from, or in addition to, its source material.  Apple cider tastes like apples; dark rum tastes like molasses; wine tastes like everything, and the more different wine you try, the more words and comparison references you need to describe it.  This, I’ve learned, is doubly important if you ever want to put this description in writing and give a reader who may have never heard of your wine a flavour impression that sets it apart…suddenly descriptions like “plum” and “cranberry”, and its weirder, more memorable cousins like “Band-Aids” and “pickles”, become totally invaluable. Read the rest of this entry »


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