5 Words Not to Fear (by NYTimes.com)

Posted: January 19, 2013 by wynmaker in Tasting, Wine, World wine news
Tags: , , , , ,
(Edel Rodriguez for The Wall Street Journal)

(Edel Rodriguez for The Wall Street Journal)


GOOD wines have stories to tell, but sadly, they are at a loss for words. As articulate as a fine wine may be, it is left to humans to supply the translation.

Yet certain words in the lexicon of wine are prisoners of their own connotations, robbed of their meanings because they so readily touch off prejudicial thoughts or emotions. This gives added responsibility not just to writers, but to sommeliers, merchants and anyone else who seeks to make concrete what is essentially elusive, to ensure that they are heard without distortion.

Here are five words often used to describe wine, along with an effort to liberate them from their connotations.



It is not wine writers but history and human nature that give bitterness its biblically negative meaning. What would many dry red wines be, particularly those from Italy and parts of France, without their element of mild bitterness? Certainly not refreshing. A touch of bitterness can help frame and shape a wine. Along with acidity, it adds snap and zest, tapering off one sip and inviting the next. White wines, too, use mildly bitter flavors to their advantage.


We’re conditioned to avoid bitterness and certainly bitterness in wine is a bad thing sometimes. Wood tannins from new oak barrels can be overwhelmingly bitter, and too much bitterness of any kind means a wine is out of balance. But a little bitterness can be desirable, so don’t shrink back at the sound of the word. After all, what’s more refreshing than a cold (bitter) beer? And speaking of cold …

Read on …



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