"Wine speak"

I agree with Neal. Outside of a small handful of folks on this site, very few of us are gifted tasters or note writers. We alll do our best. I like notes in all styles, including simple punchy notes that give really basic impressions. Even flowery, poetic, metaphoric notes are fun, expressing the zeal and passion of the person. I also really like hearing how the wine was served (such as decant time), thoughts on optimal drinking window, and if possible comparisons to other wines, whether in the same flight or bottles from other years.


I use metaphors the whole time, as any of you who bother to read my codswallop will know! It’s just for fun, but also because when wines always taste of blackberry, blackcurrant or cherry, it gets as boring writing about it as it must be reading it. I’ve called a wine “a Kristin Scott-Thomas as opposed to a Pamela Anderson” - I’ve never had the privilege of meeting either but I would imagine the idea is pretty clear!

Growing up learning wine with Somm friends and participating a in a few levels of MS, out of habit I always look for a min. of 3 fruit descriptors, 3 other descriptors, and then try to comment on acid, alcohol and oak and are they in balance or do they throw the wine off balance. Lastly if its an older wine I try to describe color at the core and at the rim…the one descriptor that drives me nuts is “brick”, if you have ever been to a brick yard there is literally every color of brick available.

I think it’s super weird when people describe wine using actresses/singers or adjectives usually used to describe women’s bodies, honestly. I think a lot of the women I know who are serious wine people find it pretty alienating whether or not they speak up about it. I’m not trying to be a scold, I just think it bears keeping in mind. I’ve never really felt hamstrung by the lack.

I get your point completely Bryan - perhaps I should have added that I’ve also likened wines to Tigger, Sylvester Stallone and John Gielgud! I’ve used cars several times, and for example said that Léoville-Barton 1990 is like a line of Grenadier Guards as opposed to a squadron of Polish Lancers…It’s just a way of describing something, using an image some can relate to, without any offence intended. But you make a good point which I will remember in future.

And then there are plenty of women winemakers I’ve spoken to who use exactly those descriptors. It’s just a way to make an analogy. If you said a wine reminded you of an old unwashed hermit, you’d immediately know it’s probably something like a Cotturi wine. If you said it was like Katy Perry, you’d know it was overdone and off key, or out of balance. If you said it was like Kanye West, you’d know it was unpleasant and not quite right.

Now for Gerhard, here’s another one - irl.

Just seems utterly unnecessary. When would you ever talk about the curves, breasts, or ass on a wine. You wouldn’t. But many men will reference a specific woman with a known body type to praise or belittle a wine. I assure you those references would entirely put off my wife. Moreover, they’re so easily replaceable that there is just really no need for them at all. It also dates the hell out of you, causing you to lose connection with many readers. I admit to seeing some of the names above and, at 34, not relating at all to the references. Also, describing a wine as a Katy Perry might have a very different meaning to me than to another. She certainly has no shortage of male and female fans who would have no clue that the reference was used to suggest an off key, overdone wine. Perhaps they’d think the wine was a tremendous performer worthy of the adoration of millions; a wine of beauty, appeal, and resonance.

If the descriptive term can mean any number of things depending on the reader’s perspective, it is an inadequate descriptor. Like saying “hair like Bob Dylan’s” when you mean “brown.”

Let’s hear it for the poetic approach:


Greg: so some women winemakers use that term, Bill Cosby doesn’t like baggy pants, I’d still rather err on the side of not making anyone feel unwelcome when it doesn’t really make my life any harder to be considerate of others experiences. We’re talking about how people feel about how describe wine and I’m just trying to gently pass on a “heads up” that I’ve heard mentioned to me on more than one occasion by more than one person.

See, I’d like it, but tend to appreciate idiosyncratic things.

Once again you people have failed to understand the vital essence of this forum.

Well said.

Blackberry - that is all.

I Agree

To Mike Francisco,

I found your post on ‘linear’ interesting. We have different takes. To me, ‘linear’ is a slightly pejorative term. When somebody uses it, I infer a wine that lacks subtlety, texture, nuance, one that offers a simple range of flavors that do not evolve in the mouth or the finish, a boring straight line.

I’m not saying your interpretation is wrong, just that it comes from a different perspective I had not encountered before.

Dan Kravitz

I understood linear in most contexts to mean a cutting, acid and mineral driven wine, as opposed to your understood definition. And we’re pretty big wine nerds. The fact that we’ve both read it dozens of times and had completely different takeaways proves what a shitty descriptor “linear” is.


Re “linear” check out these definitions. There is obviously a disconnect about what “linear” means, and let’s be real here, these definitions are filled with more bullshit like “drive” “focus” “precise” “momentum” “direct”

Linear: A wine with nicely defined acidity which gives the wine drive and focus.

– Vintage Cellars

“Linear” is used to describe wine in pretty much the same way it’s used to describe other things. A wine might not be literally “straight,” but it can be straightforward. The flavors might feel sequential, neither gaining nor losing momentum. A linear wine, like a linear painting, stays in the lines and doesn’t venture outside them.

Depending on the context, this can be either a positive or a negative trait. On the plus side, if the linear flavors are to your liking, precise, direct and intense, that might be a good thing. But that linear quality might limit your pleasure if you perceive the flavors as merely narrow or one-dimensional.

– Dr. Vinny - Wine Spectator

Linear: Linear wines offer flavors that remain on the same path and do not change. For example, in the mouth, a dark fruited wine will not change in flavor to red berries.

– The Wine Cellar Insider

Interesting. Perhaps it’s whose notes I read, but I had the impression the first definition was the usual meaning. But, as with so many other wine descriptors, this one seems to mean whatever the writer intends – i.e., nothing.