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TomHill

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NYTimes: Asimov on Wine Lexicon

by TomHill » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:47 am

Interesting article by Eric in the NYTimes:
WineLexicon
on the wine lexicon he likes to use. Length/plush/minerality/lean/structure.....
He tries to give a precise definition to those terms as he uses them, but that's damnably tough to do. It's a lot like pornography...very difficult to define but easy to recognize.
I'm pretty much in agreement with his definitions. Mostly, you pick up these definitions from tasting wines with other folks who use those terms.
"Minerality" is one that is particularly controversial in our group. Some folks totally reject its usage as not being sufficiently precise. But to me it is quite a useful term.
He rejects the usage of specific descriptor terms. Not sure I agree with that approach. To me, "strawberry" is a perfectly
useful descriptor to describe wines like Gamay/Brachetto/Freisa/etc. Or lilacs/violets/road tar to describe Nebbiolo. But if you've never walked beside a freshly tarred road, that descriptor may not mean much. Most folks can't relate to "Kansas outhouse on a hot July day" to describe any Southern Italian wine...but to me it's very specific because of my childhood experiences.
But descriptors like "Tasmanian bergamots roasted over a teak fire" or "gobs of hedonistic fruit"...meh.
One term he missed is "phenolic". It's that very distinctive aroma/taste of pine resin and cider that you find in skin-contact whites. If you've ever applied rosin to a violin bow...you know exactly what I mean. But one person in our group rejects that descriptor because he doesn't understand what "phenolic" means. But most people in our group recognize that distinctive note when we taste skin-contact whites. Maybe Eric hasn't tasted enough of them to use that descriptor.
Anyway...a mildly interesting article for mostly novice wine tasters but nothing profound.
Tom
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Paul Winalski

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Re: NYTimes: Asimov on Wine Lexicon

by Paul Winalski » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:58 am

TomHill wrote:"Minerality" is one that is particularly controversial in our group. Some folks totally reject its usage as not being sufficiently precise. But to me it is quite a useful term.


Count me in the anti-minerality camp. The term has always been meaningless to me, and I didn't find Asimov's explanation clarified the situation one iota.

He rejects the usage of specific descriptor terms. Not sure I agree with that approach. To me, "strawberry" is a perfectly useful descriptor to describe wines like Gamay/Brachetto/Freisa/etc. Or lilacs/violets/road tar to describe Nebbiolo. But if you've never walked beside a freshly tarred road, that descriptor may not mean much.


You got right to the core of the matter here. If the purpose of your wine description is to convey to others your sensual experience with the wine, you have to use terms that your target audience will understand. "Tasmanian bergamot" may be precisely accurate, but if your audience has never tasted a Tasmanian bergamot your description is useless.

-Paul W.

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