Have you ever wondered why finding a wine you love is like cozying up with an old friend or a good date? Maybe it’s because the characteristics of the wine you are having a relationship with feels almost like a human interaction.
Zeroing in on that special wine that doesn’t bankrupt you…puts a smile on your face, relaxes you and awakens your senses is not so easy to find. But once you find that unique wine, you may want to take it home and keep it flowing forever. (Dare I say…marry it?)
Wine connoisseurs are brilliant at describing each wine’s personality. It turns out that very language is actually transferrable to the personality descriptors of our friends, family, lovers and ourselves. I would go so far as to say, we can use the language of personality characteristics of wines to help us zero in on the character traits of people.
The truth is, the varied taste of different wines reflects a cross section of humanity. I know that sounds deep but it really isn’t, it’s actually eye-opening.
In preparation for our Passover Seder I found this incredible wine chart from winefolly.com. What struck me as ironic and a bit comic was the wine descriptors sounded human. It’s true…wine descriptors actually sound like people we know. And even stranger is our relationship to those wines can take on a human form as well. Some wines, like people, we are attracted to, even crave, others we walk away from without ever looking back.
As I was picking out a few wines for the dinner, I was thinking about how varied their traits were and that’s what makes the selection process a bit like dating. Reading about wines can be as confusing as going on E-Harmony.
As with most relationships, trial, error, getting a good recommendation and having a good first impression (as in the label), helps the vetting process.
Reading through the Wine Description Chart from “Wine Folly” I was able to put some language around the experience I was having with some of the new wines I was trying out, but couldn’t help thinking they remind me of people I know as well.
Complex yet palatable;
Sour and putrid…you just want to spit. The bitterness is way to sharp for the senses to bear;
So sweet you are first drawn in and then feel slightly nauseous. You can only ingest it in the smallest doses.
Here’s a few of the wine descriptors…sound like anyone you want to cozy up with… or discard?
AUSTERE: This is a very unfriendly wine. It hits your mouth and then turns it inside out. It usually means the wine has very high acidity and very little fruit flavors. An austere wine is not fruit-forward nor opulent.
BIG: Big describes a wine with massive flavor in your mouth that takes up all sections of your mouth and tongue. A big wine is not necessarily a fruit-forward wine, it can also mean that it has big tannins.
BUTTERY: This one sounds like the comfort friend. The one that you just tuck in with…cozy up on the couch with and binge watch netflix. No need to fill the empty void with chitter chatter. Total acceptance.
A wine with buttery characteristics has been aged in oak and generally is rich and flat (less Acidity). A buttery wine often has a cream-like texture that hits the middle of your tongue almost like oil (or butter) and has a smooth finish.
CHEWY TANNINS: This is the person that makes my heart race with anxiety, When the When you take a sip of wine with chewy tannins, it dries out the interior of your mouth so that you “chew” or clean the tannins out of the insides of your mouth.
DENSE: (This one is almost politically incorrect). When a wine writer pairs down his lengthy description of flavors and characteristics of a wine into one word, he uses dense. Dense is favored for use in bold red wines such as cabernet sauvignon, Côtes du Rhône and Brunello di Montalcino but usually isn’t a positive characteristic in other wines because it implies that wine is handicapped.
ELEGANT: When a wine writer says elegant he means that the wine is NOT big, NOT fruity, NOT opulent and NOT bold. Off-vintages are often referred to as elegant vintages as they have higher acid and tend to have more ‘green’ characteristics. Elegant wines may taste like crap when they first release but they also tend to age better. Elegant is that retired ballerina who puts the fat-n-sassy retired cheerleaders to shame.
INTELLECTUALLY SATISFYING: This is a rare but special occurring term used by one of the most famous wine critics, Robert Parker. Robert Parker is sure that if you are not satisfied by this wine on a hedonistic and intellectual level then you don’t deserve to drink it. This is probably true, because these words are reserved for the wines we can’t afford anyway…
JAMMY: Sommeliers and wine experts cringe when they hear this term while the rest of us delight. Jam is delicious and it is part of the PB&J experience. In wine, jammy indicates a wine with a cooked berry sweetness that is syrupy and often is used to describe American wines like zinfandel, grenache, cabernet franc and Australian shiraz…don’t be a hater.
What wine best describes you or your partner?
How fun is this list?