The Hell That is Wine Jargon

I’m guilty of it…though I hope less today than in the past. I’m talking about using jargon when writing about wine.

The wine industry, particularly its marketers, get away with murder by using certain words and phrases that, due partly to the marketers’ own over use and shoddy thought processes spurred by laziness, result in these phrases being meaningless or uncomfortably inaccurate.

A selection of those words and phrases that have passed into near-meaninglessness:

   Terroir:
To often incorrectly used to suggest a taste in the wine. It is a term too often used to suggest the wine in question is of high quality. The word should be used to describe the consistent environmental factors that influence the character of the grapes in a very well defined geographic area.

Complex:
When used in wine descriptions does "complex" mean the wine is difficult to understand? Does it mean you can’t lay your nose on the aromas coming out of the glass? I think too often this is exactly what it means. It’s a fall back description of a wine when wielded I the hands of someone who needs to get words down.

"Integrated Alcohol" or some variation thereof:
It is often claimed on wine description provided by the wine’s producer that "though the wine’s alcohol is 16.0%, it integrates well with the sumptuous fruit." Really, these phrases are most often used as an excuse for the wine having too much alcohol.

"We respect the Fruit":
Often found written on a back label. Used to suggest…what? That the grapes are addressed as "sir" or "Madam" just before being cut off the vine? Too often a throw away phrase used to suggest the winery is all about the grapes and the vineyard, but they can’t come up with specifics to demonstrate who this is actually the case.

Rare:
"This rare combination", "It’s rare for a winery like ours…", "A rare wine that delivers…" Very little is actually rare in the world of wine. A bottle with Thomas Jefferson’s initials would be "rare". A six liter bottle of 1945 Latour would be "rare". The word is too often used to suggest the wine is special in some way it really isn’t.

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