Getting vocal over ‘language of wine’

Learning the language and vocabulary of wine – the terminology around its making as well as describing what’s experienced in the glass – is part of the pleasure of enjoying wine in all its diversity.

But, let’s face it, all that jargon and terminology can also be elitist, unnecessarily intimidating, tending to exclude the uninitiated, and often downright pretentious.

And, really, apart from the world’s super-tasters and expert noses, who can actually tell the difference, on taste or smell alone, between a white peach and a cling peach? And does it matter?

The point is to give someone who hasn’t tasted the wine yet an idea of what to expect in terms of how it tastes and feels, hopefully helping to answer the question of “will I like this?”

The whole endeavour can get so wrapped up in its own importance that it leaves the poor guy – or girl – just trying to choose a bottle to go with tonight’s braai no more enlightened than before reading the description.

A case in point: sipping on the Garden Route 2017 Sauvignon Blanc with some friends recently, while I was mentally crafting a tasting note about the “fragrant tropical nose moving into green, fresh flavours with underlying cool-climate minerality”, my friend, unfamiliar with the usual wine vocab, had a description that, in between sips, rolled out something like this: “Ooh, it’s bouncy! Yes, bouncy like a beach ball. “[Another sip].

Mmm ... a lime-green beach ball. [Next sip]. On the beach. In St 2.”
An unusual description, no doubt, but one that captured the wine’s liveliness and freshness, the layers of flavour unfolding in the glass, and the likelihood that it would go down really well on a summer’s beach day.

Sadly, I didn’t get to taste the same winery’s 2016 Pinot Noir with the same friends, to hear what they would have made of its fresh red berries and savouriness and silky mouth-filling body.

Perhaps it would suggest a walk in the forest on a cool autumn day? Either way, a really lovely Pinot.

These are available from De Krans in Calitzdorp, where they’re made by winemaker Louis van der Riet from grapes from cool Outeniqua mountain vineyards.

Both earned four-star status in this year’s Platter’s guide.
Another winner from De Krans, this one from their Calitzdorp vineyards, is the just-released 2018 Pinotage Rosé.It’s a generous fruit basket of flavour, fresh, dry and gently crisp with a soft finish.
It’s widely available at about R65 – and enjoyable with or without words!