What’s Up With Wine Label Lingo?

Winemaking is considered an art form, but it behooves us to note that writing descriptions for wine bottle labels has become an art form, as well.

Drunk girl sleepingI’ve read numerous wine bottle labels while consuming numerous glasses of wine, so I can say with some authority that this form of writing requires hard work, imagination, and a mastery of obfuscation.

Take, for example, these descriptions from labels of California Zinfandel wines in a recent magazine article:

Lush and textural, with peppery blackberries, mocha, and mineral undertones.

What does this meanWhat does this mean?

My trusty dictionary verifies that one meaning of “lush” is “a drunkard, an alcoholic,” which seems like a strange word to encourage me to drink this beverage.  And “mocha” is “a choice variety of coffee,” which I sure don’t want sobering me up when I’m drinking wine.

Here’s another description:

A gravelly layer full of black pepper and tobacco under generous sweet plum and berry fruit.

driveway_01“Gravelly” – it tastes like my driveway?  And wow – since when is “tobacco” a good thing?

How about this one:

Vibrant, briary berries mix it up with violets, mocha, and espresso through an endless finish.

When I looked up “briary,” my dictionary referred me to the word “brier,” there apparently being no such word as “briary.”  I guess wine description writers have a license to make up words.  Like “zinfandel” – “a word of unknown origin,” which means somebody made that up, too.

And as for “brier,” where the dictionary referred us:  “a tangled mass of prickly plants.”

Yum, yum, pour me some more of that.

green fresh grocery 12-07Let’s get down to basics.  The dictionary defines “wine” as “a fermented juice of grapes,” yet there’s a veritable produce section included in these descriptions.  In addition to the aforementioned blackberries, sweet plum, and berry fruit, various labels advise us we’ll encounter “dark plum, blueberry and raspberry” or “red-fruited beauty” or “blue and black fruit.”

The latter sounds like it was dropped on the supermarket floor numerous times before fermentation.

Always interested in learning new art forms, and figuring I’ve consumed enough wine to qualify, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a few wine descriptions.  First, to round out my vocabulary, I consulted a tutorial at winefolly.com and picked up some words including fat, flabby, fleshy, and food friendly.

This sounds more like a description of me rather than a desirable bottle of wine.

Here are some other terms for neophyte label writers:

Austere Refined
Charcoal Tight
Flamboyant Toasty
Intellectually Satisfying Unctuous

I’ll bet you never knew that squished grapes could be all that.

tuna noodle casserole_02Now thoroughly prepared, here are my efforts:

The angular, earthy, inscrutable, structured bouquet pairs well with meatloaf, kielbasa, and Mom’s tuna noodle casserole.

 The insouciant aromas of peaches, tangerines, and grapefruit plus a kiwi finish will slap you upside the head and make you say, “Yo Mama!”

 Mellifluous overtones and cacophonous undertones make this wine a veritable symphony of harmonious, opulent flavors.

Stone fruits are passionately present in a velvety interfusion of peach pit, plum pit, cherry pit and arm pit.

The elegant, smooth finish from the stainless steel aging barrels always complements your metal dental work.

what-did-she-say-1080x608And finally:

This jabilemno has a hint of plemtoz and oakiness that extrapolate the most discerning ramgrals.

Hey – if they can make up words, so can I.

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