The Art of the Wine Review


I write lots and lots of descriptions of wines for clients’ back labels and marketing materials. It’s marketing writing, but still it’s usually pretty straight forward stuff, the kind of thing you see in most wine reviews.

I just wish I had the ability to write about wine like this:

"The fruit here is not cherries or berries. this is rustic, earthy Pinot Noir. A good Savigny can bring to mind the song "Sweet Virginia," from Exile on Main Street, the one with the line about Got to scrape the something-or-other right off yer shoes. This Savigny takes us way down home. You can almost hear the pigs oinking and Howlin’ Wolf’s little red rooster crowing. Superb depth, long and full, delicious from start to finish."

Who do you think wrote this description?

Robert Parker
Kermit Lynch
Darryl Roberts (Wine X)
The Producer of the wine
Clive Coates
Jancis Robinson
The Acker Merrill Folk

This strikes me as the kind of wine description that does everything right. The wine is described well. I have a connection to the wine through culture and art, I have context, I clearly understand the individuality of the wine and I’m entertained just by reading the review. Oh, and I want to buy it.

Not much has changed in the way wine is described in the past 100 years. We see more superlatives being used, I suppose. And we’ve had to figure which words to use so that we don’t overuse the terms "huge" or "big". But generally, the art of describing a wine hasn’t much changed.

I don’t suspect it will either. But if we can get more people to write with this sort of unique, entertaining and complete voice we’ll have a real art on our hands.

6 Responses

  1. Doug - April 6, 2006

    I’m going with: Darryl Roberts (Wine X)
    Should I peek to find out, or are you going to tell us?

  2. Tish - April 6, 2006

    I’m betting on Kermit, especially with the music angle. FYI, the back labels for several of Sacha Lichine’s wines have song references on the back labels.
    You’re right on about this. Good writing is good writing. Doesn’t have to be long, and when it’s right, you never need a number to immediately grasp the degree towhich the writer liked or disliked the wine.

  3. Tish - April 6, 2006

    I just re-read it and am now voting for the Acker Merrill folks. In which case, unfortuantely, there probably was a rating given to the wine, though, again, the point is there need not be….

  4. - April 7, 2006

    Wine Reviews

    It\’s interesting reading wine reviews, but in honesty most are pretty damn boring. I spotted this article at Fermentation which discusses the topic.

  5. Steve De Long - April 7, 2006

    A vote for Kermit Lynch

  6. mommysalame - April 7, 2006

    This sounds like Darryl Roberts at Wine X magazine.
    I LOVE his reviews. He speaks of wine with a super hip yet cultured twist.

Leave a Reply