Weird Wine Descriptors

As a college employee, I get to take classes at institutions for free. Since I already have a MS and it’s too good of a deal NOT to do, I enrolled in St. Paul College’s Wine Professional Certificate program.  It’s a super interesting program that includes studying everything from wine marketing, proper service, growing practices, and of course…tasting.

According to my taste buds, I’m a super taster, but I have trouble identifying tastes at times and that leads me to tasting notes. To be completely honest, tasting notes don’t always give real insight to what a wine tastes like–does it really taste like chocolate-covered black cherries? Not by some standards–but I love the poetic esoteria that wine critics put into their tasting sheets.

It all starts with


A sense of place created from numerous environmental factors ranging from soil types, exposure, climate, topography and various other elements specific to the unique location. Those factors have a real effect on the vine and its expression of character on the vines and in the grapes. Terroir can be effected severely by the choices the winemaker makes in the cellars and in the vineyards.

which acts as a springboard for wine critics to write whatever the hell they want, it seems. I love the idea that a single grape can encompass so much, it’s like William Carlos Williams “The Red Wheelbarrow” in terms of visual, meditative, and all those other terms that describe poems and wine so well.

But I digress. Here’s a list of some of my favorite descriptors I’ve encountered in class thus far:

Wines with this aroma are best described as earthy, with animal scents that remind tasters of a barn.

Cat Pee
An aroma often associated with Sauvignon Blanc.

Chewy wines are dense or meaty, with a lot of texture and concentration.

A climactic show of spirit in a performance or work of art…or wine.

Lacking acidity or structure.

Forest Floor
This can mean a wine with aromas and flavor reminiscent of earth.

The distinctive scent which accompanies the first rain after a long warm dry spell.

The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of wine.

Unctuous wines have viscosity, or a rich mouth feel.

And just for fun…

The theory that inanimate objects demonstrate hostile behavior toward us. In other words, “PC LOAD LETTER?!”

What are your favorite wine descriptors?

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