Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Describing Wine

During the last week, I came across a couple of interesting articles about ways in which to describe wine. Tim White, the wine writer for the Australian Financial Review, uses very detailed descriptors for the wines he reviews. He was upset in his article that a journalist called  wine reviewers which are specific about aromas poncy people. He goes on to defend that he can distinguish all these flavours. My problem with Mr. White's reviews is a different one. Not that he might not be able to differentiate aromas, but that he uses food items as analogy which 99% of the population have never tasted. What is the point of such a description?

The other is an article by Terry Theise from three years ago, where he introduces a different set of principles by which wine experiences can be described and communicated. They are

He believes that in contrast power, sweetness, ripeness and concentration are overrated. Fruit or food comparisons do not even rate a mention.

Some of the above dimensions are frequently used, some are quite appealing to me, such as distinctiveness (uniqueness) and paradox (personality?), in particular as I was reflecting on the tasting described in my last post. But I cannot help myself but think that Mr. Theise is a Burgundy and not a Bordeaux fan. Grange would not score well on grace or modesty, yet it is a remarkable and highly valued wine.

The now regarded  as old fashioned spectrum between femininity and masculinity in wine is hardly enough to get an understanding of a wine from reading a review, but Tim White's detailed approach is often not more helpful.

I have stuck to fairly simple flavour and structure distinctions, which often relate to fruits, ripeness and concentration. The listing above cannot sensibly replace this, in my view, but it made me think to give some of these dimensions more prominence in the future.

What do you think? What is most valuable to you?  

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