I always find it nerdly amusing when 'wine words' such as grape names are spelled as they are often pronounced. Semillon seems to attract this quite often. Mind you, I'm not quite sure why it's ever pronounced as Semillion when Semm-ill-on would appear to be the easier option!
|I flagged SuperValu Semillion as far back as three years ago!!|
This blog, though, is not about pronunciation or readability. Let's face it, a market full of the likes of Squinzano and Cserszegi Fuszeres names will throw up its fair share of confusion and mistaken spelling.
No, 'wine words' in today's context are those used to describe aroma and flavour.
Wine words, of course, are seldom anything to do with grapes or even wine. They are borrowed sentiments based on experience elsewhere. Let's see ..... 'it tastes of green apple with a hint of nectarine'. Do we ever see an apple described as, 'a young Viognier slightly bottle aged'?
Here's the rub. If reviewers, critics and wine experts are paid to describe a wine to us should we not expect absolute accuracy with regards to the words used?
Green Apple; Peach; Orange; Tomato leaf; Tobacco pouch; Gooseberry ....... are all very different to each other. Surely they could never be swapped around?
Read the following four (published) wine descriptions and then try to guess the wines that are being described:
1. ... hint of complexity with sherry, date and hazelnut flavours leading to a strong finish.
2. ... attractive cherry fruit and long length.
3. ... lovely strawberry fruit with a smooth clean finish.
4. ... floral and citrus aromas leading to a refreshing palate with crisp red-apple fruit.
I'll come back to the answers soon! My point here is that if strawberry is the dominant fruit in Wine 3 above then it really must/should taste distinctly different to Wine 4 where red apple shows well. This then will allow me to choose accordingly. I therefore have great faith in the experts knowing their hazelnuts from their cherry's thus making Wine 2 very different to Wine 1.
Wines 1 and 2 are in fact the same wine as indeed are wines 3 and 4. Not only that but the column that these descriptions are published in is an edited one. (They're not from the web or blogs where anything and everything is possible!!) Surely the editor in question would take a look and say 'hold on a minute there' ..... mmm perhaps the sway of expert opinion can sway even the most editable of editors ....
The language of wine is not a a precise one. Wine words are seldom original and are almost always comparative. Why should they also be conflicting and used so loosely that they make no sense and convey no message other than a smart use of words?
The four, or should I say two, wines above are all good value Cavas.
In my September column for Checkout Magazine I had a look at the difficulty of marketing wine in a price driven market. I make the point that today's consumer has become more confident buying inexpensive wine and that the inexpensive category has more acceptable wines in it then ever before.
I firmly believe that anyone attempting to taste these wines for the consumer, as a paid critic, needs to be absolutely and rigorously held to account for the words that are used in their description. Perhaps its time to demand more interaction with critics. Score cards anyone?