In Other Words – Euphemisms In Wine Journalism.

“I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” Peter De Vries

Chapter Six, Part One.

Mix of fresh fruits on wicker bascketOnce you’ve learned to decipher wine’s elusive qualities you may also need some tips on how to express your observations. In addition to the correlation between the flavors found in wine and the flavors found in your average fruit basket, you’ll want to describe wine’s appearance, texture, weight, oak, and umm … what’s that other one? Oh yeah, arsenic.

We turn to wine critics for help with these thorny descriptors because they are so much more than mere wine aficionados. That’s right, wine critics are also self-aggrandizing blowhards. No wait! That’s not it! I meant to say they are also writers.

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The Wine Aroma Wheel Goes Round & Round.

Chapter Three, Part Eight.

Wine aroma wheel copyright 2002 A C Noble

Wine aroma wheel copyright 2002 A C Noble

I‘m writing this blog under protest. I’m protesting the intolerable conditions in this frigid basement office where my breath fogs the screen and I have to sip whiskey to keep my spleen from developing potholes. Luckily this is in keeping with my new diet. I’m on the bourbon diet and I’ve already lost 300,000 brain cells.

It was 12 degrees this morning but at least the Weather Channel reports it’s going to cool down soon. My friend visited from Arizona and when he complained about the cold I said, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. It’s a dry cold.”

The household has finally adjusted to the arctic temperatures. My son has actually pulled his pants up and my wife happily fuels the fireplace with my old articles.

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Pain & Sulfuring.

Chapter Twelve. Part Six.
Amphora contains sulfites

Contrary to public opinion, wineries didn’t start adding sulfites to wine in 1987. That’s simply the year the US government dictated all wine containing more than 10 ppm, the smallest detectable amount at the time, be labeled with the warning “contains sulfites.”¹ If a winery can produce wine with less than 10 ppm of detectable sulfites they can forgo the warning label. I’ve sold organic wine for years and only once have I seen a label that read, “contains no detectable sulfites”. It may have been a misprint as the label should have read, “contains no detectable flavor”.

The warning label only applies to wines sold in America, leading many consumers to mistakenly believe that just those bottles destined for America are adulterated with sulfur while their European counterparts remain sulfite-free. The European Union has recently instituted a similar sulfur warning label so the idea that they are sulfite-free should soon be exposed as a myth – just like the idea that vampires can’t go out in daylight (like, have you even seen Twilight?).

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Wine Tasting Techniques; How To Taste Better.

Chapter Three. Part Eleven.

Pop Rocks grape

Do you remember Pop Rocks – the 1970’s candy made of carbonated sugar granules tinted with some sort of unearthly dye and coated in polyethylene? When eaten, the outer plastic sealant dissolved and a radioactive uranium isotope was released, creating a tiny nuclear reaction in your mouth. But it was a happy nuclear reaction, filled with cheerful little explosions of flavor – just like grandma used to make.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t polyethylene or a nuclear reaction, but that’s what it felt like. You may find this hard to believe but I try to be completely honest in my writing. I also try to be 175 pounds and that’s not working out so well either.

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It’s A Matter Of Degrees.

Chapter Three, Part Ten.
calice di vino con termometroProper wine tasting technique starts with serving wine at the right temperature. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those extremists who bring a wine thermometer to a restaurant and obsess over a few degrees. I’d much rather obsess over something important like who’s picking up the check.

When wine is served too cold it will exhibit less flavor than one served at room temperature. This is good if the flavors are bad, but it’s bad if the flavors are good. What I’m saying is, cold masks both the quality and the flaws in wine. Studies have shown that people who drink wine too cold become bored and their lives soon lose meaning, usually resulting in heroin abuse or worse, a subscription to People Magazine.

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