When one studies wine, one discovers that there’s a lot of emphasis placed on “wine vocabulary”. And one of the very first things you’re given, is a wine aroma wheel.
If you’re unfamiliar with a wine aroma wheel, imagine a pie chart divided into slices that represent fragrances or flavours. An industry standard, it’s designed using specific terminology to create a systematic language for tasting notes and analysis.
Everyone’s literally speaking the same wine language! But what if you want to disrupt this language, throw away what’s been “standard procedure” and start from scratch.
As the wine world evolves to reach new generations and a wider range of people, so does the language used to describe it. Many have begun to break away from shared verbiage.
What if you grew up where there’s no “forest floor”, for example. If we want more people to drink wine, should we not include them in the words we use to discuss wine? This doesn’t necessarily mean replacing a term like “forest floor” with, say, “subway platform”. It’s more about exploring attributes beyond flavour, like how a wine makes you feel.
Below, get the hang of some different ways to consider wine.
Get to know a wine as you would a person. Think about the traits or quirks that stand out.
Ask yourself: How would I introduce this wine at a party?
Examples: You may describe a wine as “generous” if it’s rich, full-bodied and giving, while considering a wine with springy lightness to be “charming.”
Consider wine a co-star to the current menu or in relation to your own personal preferences.
Ask yourself: How does this jive with the flavours on my table right now?
Examples: When I started out, a fiasco [of Chianti] was the classic pizza wine. But you might prefer a fruity Lambrusco or a Cap Classique. After all, the perfect pairing is the one you like best!
Our own sense of a wine depends on more than taste or smell. The type of day one’s had, who you are with, your mood, even body temperature, can play a role.
Ask yourself: How does this wine make me feel? Does it remind me of a certain moment?
Examples: A glass savoured on vacation may recall rest and relaxation or may taste totally different at your kitchen table.