Wine and the Education of the Meek
Maybe you are reading FERMENTATION, other wine blogs and other wine info on the net because you’ve recently developed a passing interest in wine. Maybe your new boyfriend is a wine lover and you want to share. Perhaps you have a new job in a wine related field and you need to get up to speed. Whatever it is that brought you to the subject of wine pretty soon you’re going to bump up against a guy like me.
You’ve heard about these people. They swirl, sniff, think, sniff some more, sip then blurt out some incomprehensible bit of verbiage such as, "This wine’s a bit light in the middle but it shows very good length and I love that note of black currant on top."
I swear to God, we aren’t TRYING to intimidate the "wine meek", but we know we do. Still, if you are caught in a room with two or three of these types it’s very unlikely they’ll tone down their vocabulary just for for. You’re best defense against the incomprehensible is knowledge. If you want to really enjoy wine, if you do want to understand it, if you want to converse with those of us who have fallen into the pit of winedom and can’t get up…you need to learn a new language. If you don’t, you’ll just feel intimidated and give up.
There are a bunch of books out there that offer definitions, or "translations, if you will, of wine terms. If you are new to wine get one. I still have a French/English translation dictionary that is falling apart because it experienced every step I took on my first trips to France. Nearly half my day on my twice yearly trips was spent standing in front of some poster or sign or menu looking up and down from the words to the dictionary, back and forth.
Rachel Forrest delivers what is a pretty darn good short primer on wine language for the space she has in a newspaper column in the Portsmouth Herald. She even gets the definition of "terroir" right…and this is a rarity for a newspaper column. But best of all her column is empowering to those who want to learn more. And this is the most you can ask of an advise column on wine.
There are others on the net too: