wine descriptor: minerality

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wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Isaac Chavel » Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:12 am

Apparently use of the descriptor has become quite popular in recent years.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323829104578621731558370020.html?mod=WSJ_ITP_offduty_7
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby David Raccah » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:37 am

Saw that as well - though she never answers it. To me minerality is slate, charcoal, rock, shist, and graphite,
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Isaac Chavel » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:44 am

though she never answers it


Ditto here. I was hoping that someone would understand it better than I. I guess what counts is that someone who uses the phrase can explains what he/she means, if asked. But I thought it was amazing as to how many pros in the biz simply accepted it as buzz --- and left it at that.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:38 pm

You all know my feeling- it's a bad descriptor because it cannot be adequately explained and communicated to others who lack similar experiences. Ann Noble, and the academic sensory evaluators in general, taught us to use common experience as a means of identifying descriptors, and rating wines by intensity of those attributes. Since minerals possess only tactile attributes, they and the genre of "mineral" become meaningless when it comes to the senses of taste and smell.

However, if enough people agree to the descriptor "mineral" and have a common experience and understanding of the meaning, then of course it can be used, though it wll only be useful to the limited number of people with that common experience and understanding. I have a sneaking suspicion that it means different things to different people, but that those things maybe coalesce into 4 or 5 main groups of understanding, though it could well be fewer or more groups. Certainly, within those groups, the descriptor has meaning and can legitimately be used. Or it can be legitimately used by anyone who doesn't care whether he is understood. Wine writers as a group are more interested in self-promotion than in conveying meaning. It may be useful to use jargon which is not necessarily decipherable by others, thus generating a sense of expertise and importance.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby David Raccah » Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:54 pm

Well if you read the article it pretty much sounds that way - a descriptor, like terroir, that few seem to agree on its true meaning. Blueberry, blackberry, are clear descriptors - I agree with you there Craig. But man, if a wine smells of graphite and or tastes like licking a salt stick or a rock - then say so. Who cares if they have no idea what a rock tastes like - taste one!

It is shocking to me that a concept like mineral, which may not be as obvious at blueberry, but is far easier to comprehend than terroir, should be so complicated. Have these folks never smelled a pencil?

I guess this is a two fold issue:

1) What does mineral mean to each person. To me it is what I explained already - essentially - things that are buried in the earth (excluding things like oil, dirt, earth or petroleum). Like, rock, graphite, and other such buried smells or flavors

2) Once we can agree or disagree - some have a hard time coming to grips with a smell and applying it to wine. Fruit aromas and flavors are easier - but rocks and the such may be more complex, I guess.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:38 pm

If a wine is salty, say it! If a wine smells like a pencil, say it! But graphite itself has no taste. I'm sitting here sucking on a mechanical pencil lead as I type, and it has nothing tastewise. There is a slight smell, probably that of the packaging or the clay with which the graphite is bound into a stick, and dissipates quickly with time, and does not make its way into the flavor by mouth in my mouth. Suck on a rock, you'll find there's nothing there, with the exception of salts, in terms of taste and mouthfeel. Smell is mostly due to volatile organics adhering to the rock.

It sounds as if you are searching for things that are not there. Buried.

There is one way to solidify a smell or flavor in the minds of multiple people. Take a wine, add a known amount of a sample of something to a known amount of wine, and taste that against the wine by itself, after letting it sit for a bit. If everyone agrees to the characterization, then you have a descriptor which can legitimately be used by the group.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby David Raccah » Sun Jul 28, 2013 8:50 pm

With great respect I disagree. Graphite has a unique flavor, like charcoal has a unique flavor. Rock has a flavor too, like licking a salt stick has a flavor. To me they all taste very differently and they all have flavors and aromas.

To me mineral is just a way of denoting many of these things without uniquely picking one out like forest berries or red fruit is to blackberry and plum.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Elie Poltorak » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:45 pm

I agree with Dave re graphite and rock but am very surprised by his explanation of what he means by minerality. To me, minerality is not just a collective name for the particular notes you mention, but rather an emergant property--just as saying a wine is fruity or fruit-forward doesn't just mean it has fruit notes, but is rather a useful descriptive terms above and beyond the specific notes. When I say a wine has minerality, I don't just mean it has graphite notes. To me, the term indicates (especially with white wine, where it's most useful) a pleasant mineral-like texture in the back of your mouth when drinking the wine, which is although associated with the notes Dave mentions (just as fruity is necessarily associated with fruit notes), conveys more about the overall mouth-feel of the wine than the individual notes can. In other words, to say a wine has salt, graphite, charcoal, or rocky notes is not the same as to say the wine has abundant minerality. Both statements convey independent and useful information about the wine in question.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby David Raccah » Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:57 pm

Elie I am fine with that - yes Minerality can be a structural attribute, but it can also mean that the majority of the feelings in the wine are more mineral based than fruit or otherwise based. Either way, they are two sides of the same coin.

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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Gabriel Geller » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:02 am

I find myself somewhere in between Elie and Dave.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Daniel Kovnat » Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:01 pm

Gabriel Geller wrote:I find myself somewhere in between Elie and Dave.



Me too. It's sort of like being between a rock and a graphite place. :lol:

Personally, I think that tastes are sooooooo subjective, and are therefore greatly influenced by our experiences in life. I highly recommend an interesting story in an article on this subject by sommelier, Steven Grubbs. It can be accessed here in this link:
[url]
http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/04/w ... -wine.html[/url]

I love his statement at the end of the article when he says, "I don't think we are dreaming. I don't think we are nuts. Even if we are standing around, licking expensive, significant rocks."
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:18 pm

Man, with all due respect to all of those who think graphite has a flavor, you're full of manure. I am not saying that pencil "lead" does not have a smell, but it is mostly from the cedar of the pencil itself, and somewhat from the wax used in the "lead" which gives it its characteristic softness levels (the harder having less wax.

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=17720

That is a link to a good, and fun, discussion of "graphite", by qualified people. Look, we're all full of shit at one time or the other, but there's no reason to go overboard. You may well have the feeling that graphite has smell and taste, but it isn't borne out scientifically.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby David Raccah » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:40 pm

LOL!!! To each his own sir! I have smelled and tasted many a pencil and charcoal and other substances - as I find humor in the process. In the end, graphite has a distinct flavor and aroma, and it is NOT wax. It ma well be a blend of clay and graphite - I am fine with that, much to what I was describing above. It may well come across, as Tom says, as metal flint like aromas, agreed again. To call us mad because you think science is against us - think again.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Gabriel Geller » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:47 pm

David Raccah wrote:LOL!!! To each his own sir! I have smelled and tasted many a pencil and charcoal and other substances - as I find humor in the process. In the end, graphite has a distinct flavor and aroma, and it is NOT wax. It ma well be a blend of clay and graphite - I am fine with that, much to what I was describing above. It may well come across, as Tom says, as metal flint like aromas, agreed again. To call us mad because you think science is against us - think again.

Well-said my man, well-said... :lol:
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Elie Poltorak » Mon Jul 29, 2013 6:21 pm

Craig: No need to be pedantic about it. Who cares if it's really graphite or not. As long as we have the same smell and taste in mind when we say graphite, who cares whether it's really clay or wood or wax? What makes a descriptor useful is its being a common point of reference. As long as we all use pencils, why not use them to describe that taste in wine?
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Mon Jul 29, 2013 7:11 pm

From Friday's Wall Street Journal Re:Minerality :
http://www.wineindustryinsight.com/ex_n ... 70020.html
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby David Raccah » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:04 pm

Craig - that is the same post that Isaac linked from the first post on this thread - the reason why we started this conversation :D
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Isaac Chavel » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:02 am

LOL!
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:25 am

So it is--- the circuitous argument. Somehow, I thought this thread stretched back longer than yesterday.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Daniel Kovnat » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:05 am

Once again I quote what I thought was a short well written article on this subject:

There is also the fact that minerality comes in so many shifting shades. Often, it is recognizable as a scent, like the smell of river pebbles, hot rocks, or straight-up wet dirt. Other times, what we're talking about is a flavor, a rocky saltiness, and this can feed into a saline, pasty texture.


And once again, here's the link which I suggest you'all read:

http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/04/w ... -wine.html

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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:10 am

Fine article for those who buy into it, Daniel.
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Daniel Kovnat » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:16 am

Craig Winchell wrote:Fine article for those who buy into it, Daniel.


Ahhhhhh, but it's so earthy. :wink:
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby lewis.pasco » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:22 pm

OK I'll throw in my 2 cents on the issue. First I'd say I tend to agree with Craig on several points - one being that what many think of as "graphite" is likely to be some elemnt of raw wood or the cedar that pencils are encased with, another being that "minerality" is not a very useful descriptor to those who make wine and have havemore specific chemical terms to describe what might well be the root causes of "mineral" scents or tastes in wine.

With a white wine that is strongly "mineral" in aroma, try adding a 0.2% copper sulfate penta-hydrate solution drop wise into a glass, swirl well after each drop, and see if your sense of the minerality doesn't lessen while fruity flavors, previously unnoticed, emerge.

For whites that taste like minerals, make a 0.03% solution of hydrogen peroxide, add it drop-wise into a glass of wine, and see if that doesn't make the mineral (or salty) taste dissipate.

In both cases, please taste and spit and do not swallow!
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Re: wine descriptor: minerality

Postby Craig Winchell » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:28 pm

Ah, now there's a man who strongly believes in the reduced sulfur compound theory of "mineral". In this case, he's adding a mineral to remove "minerality". How anti-intuitive can you get?
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