- Smooth* - bland
- Closed (or dumb) - a good word to use to cover the crushing disappointment when your star bottle is clearly failing to perform on the nose
- Perfumed - floral
- Floral - perfumed
- Spicy - weird, where is the fruit?
- Earthy - weird, where is the spice?
- Focussed - pure
- Pure - one-dimensional
- Intense - disconcerting
- Forward - obvious
- Reserved (or recalcitrant - if you can pull it off without being stabbed) - not obvious
- Rustic - shit
- Honest - shit
- Unpretentious - Rustic and Honest
- Hedonistic - overly rich and fruity, favoured by Antipodeans/Americans/plebs
- Cerebral - not immediately appealing/too complicated for a pleb like you/not terribly pleasant at all
- Sophisticated - more expensive than it tastes
- Classic - disappointing
- Delicate - thin, don’t pair with curry
- Elegant - ditto but probably more expensive
- Structured - enamel-stripping tannins
- Vegetal - like a compost heap, jogger’s socks or pile of horse dung. Counter-intuitively, a rather good thing in great old reds, Burgundy in particular
- Mineral - be sure to use when drinking expensive whites, it means nothing as could refer to quartz, chalk, graphite etc, in reality smells like a kettle that needs de-scaling
- Complex - confusing
- Masculine - Serious
- Serious - Scary, one glass only
- Feminine - soft, gentle, perfumed, really rather lovely, will lead to horrible excess
- Pretty - Only used by Americans, the vinous equivalent of “quaint”
- Balanced - nothing really stands out, good or bad
- Complete - when unable to determine anything specific, this suggests the various composite elements you have picked out have fused in to a sum greater than its parts
- Surprisingly good - surprisingly cheap
- A good/long/impressive finish - Indicator to host your glass has been empty for at least 5 minutes
*NEVER EVER say you like wines to be smooth. You can immediately dismiss those who do as simpletons. Referring to a wine as such is like calling a guy “nice” - i.e. crushingly unmemorable, dull.
Some particularly purple notes from past Tastings that might provide further inspiration.
‘Fresh and deft, lifted fruit, elegant, balanced and captivating, like Audrey Hepburn, a core of tarte tatin with chalk dust and icing sugar’ (Krug Clos de Mesnil ‘90)
‘The nose has that salty tang of a passing jogger’ (Manzanilla sherry, but could be applied to any dry sherry or even Muscadet)
‘The olfactory equivalent of a cool afternoon spent in the spice markets of Zanzibar, the wine then glides over the tongue, offering greengages and dried apricots, cinammon and a plethora of other subtle spicy nuances. The finish is very impressive, fruity acidity and an exotic sweetness persisting admirably’ (aged, oaked Sauvignon Blanc)
‘Speaks the language of Dante’ (Brunello, but anything traditional from Tuscany will do)
‘A dense, brambly nose which threatens violence, brooding but with a feminine side (like a cut-purse with a lavendar handkerchief up his sleeve), showing some lint and lead. Very fine tannins follow, with truffles, violets and strawberries. Long and palate-coatingly memorable’ (A young Barolo)
‘Very sinewy, tawny, gently perfumed, a 70yr old Prima Ballarina, fading but graceful’ (old Barolo)
‘Swarthy and genial, a wine with its shirt unbuttoned to the navel and sporting a deep tan, it offers an intensely mouth-filling palate of super-ripe mulberry and plum, tobacco, dark chocolate and some rich fruit tannins. Loud but not coarse, its hearty and jovial presence commands attention. (A Calabrian red, but could be applied generally of the more drinkable Southern Italian reds)
‘Stately, rich, showing wisdom not wrinkles, a dowager countess in ermine’ (an old Grand Cru red Burgundy)
‘Lots of colour and bags of fruit’ (Harry Waugh on ‘61 Latour)
Read the previous WineChap article here.
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WineChap is contributing editor to luxury magazines POMP and B Beyond and wine writer for Urban Junkies. His musings on wine feature regularly in other online publications including The Economist's More Intelligent Life, FT's How To Spend It and Vintage Seekers.