March 24, 2012 Leave a comment
It never fails…the first time I stand in front of a new wine class and describe a white wine as having aromas of “lemon, lime, green apple, and apricot” I get either a sea of blank stares or an uncomfortable laugh track. A few weeks into the class, however, my students are begging me to teach them how to “impress their friends and annoy their enemies” by crafting an impressive sounding wine description.
My response: “You mean one like this?”
“Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is a dry, medium-bodied white wine. The nose reveals the fruity, floral, and mineral aromas of lemon, lime, green apple, gooseberry, orange blossom and wet stones. This wine is herbal and fruity on the palate, with lively acidity; followed by a refreshing, slightly bitter lemon-peel finish.”
And then, in the course of an hour, I teach them to use “Mad Libs for Wine” – in other words, a fill-in-the blank template that allows even beginners to create an accurate (and yes, impressive sounding, if you’re into that) description of any wine. We just take ten simple facts about the wine and string them together into a few sentences.
Try it for yourself!
The WineSpeak 101 Description Template:
To write your own wine description, use the WineSpeak 101 descriptor crib to fill in the blanks on this template. Your completed description will characterize the wine using the following basic facts:
- Name of the Wine
- Level of Sweetness
- Mouthfeel – aka “Body”
- Type of wine (the easiest, but your customer needs to know!)
- Aroma Categories
- Specific Aromas
- Acidity for white wines, tannin level for reds
- Finish - length
- Finish - description
___________________________________ (Name of the wine) is a _______________ (Sweetness),
__________________________________ (Mouthfeel) , _______________________ (Type of) wine.
The Nose reveals the ____________________________________________ (Aroma Categories) aromas
of ____________________________________________________________ (Specific Aromas) .
This wine is ___________________________________________________________ (Flavors) and
____________________________________________ (Acidity or Tannin, or both) on the palate, followed by a
_____________________ (Finish – Length) , __________________________ (Finish - Description) finish.
As you can see, it’s not exactly a party trick, but if you know your way around the typical wine vocabulary, it’s easy to put together a meaningful wine description. My students are amazed at how well they can discuss their impressions of a wine after just a few practice sessions. This technique works so well that I wrote an entire textbook on “WineSpeak 101″ a few years ago, and still use it today in my teaching.
Please…try it for yourself and enjoy your studies. If you would like a copy of my handout “The WineSpeak 101 Descriptor Crib”, which I use to help my students understand the different aspects of the wine description (and give them quite a few examples of terminology they might use, thus the “Mad Libs for Wine” nickname), just send me an email at email@example.com.
The Bubbly Professor is “Miss Jane” Nickles of Austin, Texas.