How You Talk About Wine

How many times have I told you that I’m not educated about wine? When I posted the question recently on my personal facebook page about trying to figure out how to monetize my love of wine someone replied “Take people on tours of Northern Virginia wineries and educate them about wine.”  How can I educate anyone about something I’m not even educated about?

To be honest, I really struggle to identify most of the fruit flavors in wines I sip.  I get the big weird ones like banana (I can’t even remember now which wine had the banana smell and flavor to it – I think it was a chardonnay somewhere), and cherry is an easier one for me.  Most of the time I just enjoy the big mouthful of fruit and earth in glass I’m drinking.  I know butter when I taste it and more often than not I pour it out. That’s pretty much it.

If you’re reading this far into this post, I’m pretty grateful.  But you know if you’ve read much that I don’t use big weird flowery words (often), but I try to give you my honest experience of drinking the wine so that you can judge for yourself.  Relatively few of us will end up being sommeliers or masters of wine, and maybe, just maybe, if my taste buds ever recover from youthful indiscretion involving tequila, I can take and pass a certified wine educator class and merge my current calling with my current hobby and create my future calling.

Wine Folly wrote this amusing piece on “Stop Saying These 12 Things About Wine.” I’m a HUGE fan of Wine Folly and urge you to buy the book (using the link on that page please).  I love that when she writes, she writes to people like me who will likely not pursue a sommelier certification and she does it all without any pretense.  This article is a no-holds-barred against pretense in all its forms too.  I’m gonna rant and sometimes confess about all 12.

1. “I only drink…”  I used to once be an “I only drink…..” person.  Mostly red wine.  I wouldn’t really touch much white wine.  I’ve relatively recently learned to enjoy it.  I like crispness and acidity and loath creaminess (in general).  Most of the white wine you will see here that I enjoy is clean and crisp and doesn’t have interfering flavors, and isn’t overly toasty or oakey.

2. “Actually it’s pronounced….” Anyone who knows me in my personal life knows that I’m a corrector.  Someone I used to work with who frequently bungled words and required correction once called me “Correctal man” in a meeting (she really meant to be funny and say “correct-it-all man” but messed up again and blew her own joke).  But I honestly never feel like I know enough to correct how someone pronounces their wine name.  Except sometimes.

3.  “Sweet wines? What are you five?” OK, guilty as charged.  I don’t do sweet wines much at all.  Port is as close as I get.

4. “Ew. Screw caps. Pass” One of my favorite wineries is Arterra, and they are screw cap only and they are amazing.  No screw cap attitude here.  In fact, as I read more about it, I see that screw caps aren’t susceptible to corkage issues and don’t require bottles to be stored on their sides.  It’s just how we used to do things, and if you’re wed to that, you get stuck there.

5.  “Pssh. white wines aren’t meant for aging.”  Champagne in general defies that, but also the fact that at the Linden library tasting we had one chardonnay that was from 2002 at Linden, and it had aged so beautifully.  It was so delicious and subtle, and yet a bottle I would happily buy.  Good white wine can age if it is good white wine.

6. “I’m not drinking any #$&@ing Merlot!” I mean, merlot isn’t my favorite red wine, but it’s not my least favorite either.  I’m finding more and more that I love merlot blended with other varietals, especially Early Mountain’s merlots.  By itself I take a pass in general however.

7. “Champagne isn’t Champagne unless it’s from the region.”  OK, I mean I get this, and the French are who they are and they fuss about everything so let them have this.  I love champagne.  I love Cremant du Bourgogne.  I love Sparkling Va Chardonnay.  I can handle it.

8. “You never, ever pair red wine with fish.”  Hmmmmmm.  Some wines scream seafood and they are generally white wines.  But honestly, I’m the kind of guy that often picks a bottle from the rack and just opens and starts sipping no matter what is on the table.  Probably my go-to fish is salmon, and well fruit and salmon isn’t ideal together, it isn’t bad either.  Those who are better educated than me may disagree with pairing any and all wine with fish, but I’m in the “If you like it, eat it and drink it” camp.  Just be aware that it may change how they each taste in your mouth.

9.  “How do you know it tastes like _______?”  I think I’ve been guilty of saying I taste earth and dirt and leather in wine.  I don’t usually sample the flavors of any of those (at least not since I was in the single digits of age). Like I said above, I can get fruit, honey, and bg weird wine flavors like banana, but I don’t really grasp the subtleties of all the fruit flavors in wine.  I tend to think these are more from smell, which we all know fairly well, rather than actual flavor.  I’m not great with those either.

10.  “You’re not getting all that acid/tannin? Ugh, it’s so obvious.”  This fascinates me, because acidity is very easy for me to detect and be overwhelmed by when it’s heavy duty big-time acidity.  I don’t know how people can miss the sucking feeling of heavily tannic wine in their mouths.  But others pick up on stuff I miss, so hey.  It just surprises me when people miss stuff I think is easy.

11.  “There’s only one kind of wine: red.” Didn’t we address this already above in #1?

12. “This wine tastes like morning mist, rolling down the hillsides, transforming into dewdrops on the grass…” I mean that’s kinda ridiculous.  Someone aced figurative language in elementary school reading class, however.  I say write what you want and how the wine makes you feel.  I probably won’t be too great at traditional tasting notes, but I can hopefully write a blog post that makes you laugh a little, or try a winery that I think is totally worth the time!

So, I hope my blog doesn’t come across as one of those who commits the 12 awful sins of talking about wine.  Hopefully instead I entertain you at least a little.  And then maybe, just maybe, you’ll share the link with a friend and add to the monthly hits.


2 thoughts on “How You Talk About Wine

  1. Man. I especially love this post. The enjoyment of wine is, first of all, subjective. Also, Wine Folly lives, in my house, within easy reach (except for right now, where it is living with my friend Gigi). Also, rules are made to be broken. I am drinking this moment a decent Albariño while waiting for my steak.
    Also, I am not at all ashamed to take pics of wine labels (Vivino app) while wine shopping. I am in the midst of investigating the wines of Sicily, of which I know nothing. Vivino at least gives me a clue.
    Man, I love wine. Also the occasional martini.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s so subjective. People I respect love wineries that I couldn’t finish the tasting at….. and that’s ok. I was really amused by the Wine Folly article and had to give my take on it. I hope people will call me out if I get pretentious in my blog entries and sound like one of the twelve …..


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