Wine can be a pretty stuffy topic. Historically, it’s been dominated by old men tasting wine in wood-panelled libraries, speaking with a little Locust Valley lockjaw (if you know what I mean, Lovey).
The fact that the people responsible for tasting wine and writing reviews seem intent on confusing their audience continues to amaze me! I mean, let's call 'em like we see them and stop using the most annoying words in wine writing!
As defined by its main abuser, Robert Parker: “Rich, lush, intense wines with layers of concentrated, soft, velvety fruit are said to be unctuous.” Look, I know I’m an outlier, but unctuous means smooth and greasy, and if we’re using it as an adjective to describe a person it only gets worse: “Excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily”! Maybe that is what Parker means after all, but do me a favor and keep your smooth, greasy wines away from me.
Feeling or showing certainty about something. So, I’ve seen this term abused fairly often, with people referring to confident aromas, or tannins, or what have you. Wine, let's see, let me check -- yes, it is still inanimate! It lacks a brain stem, so it can’t feel or show you anything. And even if it could, what the heck would confident tannin reveal?
Demanding careful consideration or application. Okay, so this is one of my all-time most annoying wine words, and one that I am guilty of using, but I use it correctly! So many people refer to a wine as being serious, as though there was some group of unserious wines lurking around the corner waiting to spoil the party! Look, there are wines that are not serious; usually they fall into the category of wines I do not drink! But hey, let’s stop trying to give them a complex. A serious wine is not necessarily serious by design, so please stop implying that.
A harsh, discordant mixture of sounds. Well, now I’m just being pedantic, which has to be just as bad as being an obtuse wine writer. Anyway, there are now wines being reviewed which seem to have cacophonies of aromas, or flavors. Unless you made a mistake with those mushrooms, it’s only about the sounds, folks, and I for one tend not to care too much about how my wine sounds. If I’ve been missing something, I haven’t noticed!
1) The finish Lasted X Seconds
So this is more a phrase but what the hell? I’m all for paying attention to your wine; enjoy it, understand, but don’t dissect it for Christ's sake! And are you really sure that finish was X seconds? Stopwatch was out? Your timing was perfect? This is so silly that it makes me want to scream. The finish wasn’t that long, timing it is foolish, so just relax and enjoy that wine. We get it when you tell us the finish was short, or long, or really, really, really long. Let's stop trying to be so damn precise with something that offers each of us such a unique expereience.
Read more: Getting to Know the Grapes
Want to branch out beyond your favorite wine but don't feel comfortable, not knowing what’s out there? Well, take a look at our rundown of the most popular varietal wines in America! This handy guide is an introduction to the grapes you want to learn about. In brief, easy–to-understand snippets.