Semantics in wine…

Exploring the world of wine is like learning a whole new language, one in which not only are some of the words completely unfamiliar, but even some of the familiar ones are now attached to properties that do not initially make a whole lot of sense. How can a drink that is made from fermented grape juice smell like a cigar box or coffee beans? When thinking of drinking a glass of red wine, it’s hard to imagine that the smell of the forest floor or leather is going to enhance the experience. But yes, these words and smells are often there, even if initially hard to discern, and if you work hard at it, maybe one day you too will be able to find them. Whether that will add to your enjoyment of the wine is a personal experience. It will certainly add to your vocabulary.

In my early exposure to the study of wine I discovered three words that I needed to modify my use of. Those three words are ‘I don’t like…’ followed by either a country, region or particular wine. “I don’t like Chardonnay” or “…Pinot Noir” were two of mine, and just a few days back I heard from a colleague “I don’t like Italian wines”, although to her credit she was quick to qualify that, stating it was more out of lack of knowledge or what is actually available locally from that country.

So what’s wrong with those three words? Primarily that it is a huge generalization, setting one up to be proven wrong very easily. Even just a few weeks into my wine studies, I discovered that a French Syrah could taste different just from one small region to the next! And given that there are literally thousands of wineries throughout the world, it would be virtually impossible to make a realistic statement beginning with ‘I don’t like…’ in the above context.

One of my goals in this blog is to encourage my readers to explore the world of wine. Don’t give up on a particular wine or country after one just one bottle. If you don’t like that bottle of Chardonnay, try one from another region or country. A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand tastes completely different from a Sauvignon Blanc from France. If you have found you don’t like ‘Italian’ wines, try one from a completely different part of the country. A wine from Southern Italy can taste completely different to a wine from the North, even when using the same grape variety.

So how did I personally modifying those three words ‘I don’t like’? Well, it now reads ‘I have yet to find a (insert wine / country) that I like’, which leaves it open for me to keep exploring until I eventually find one that I do like. And I encourage you to do the same.

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