Have you ever bought a bottle of wine that described itself on the label as “bright”, which you came to find out meant mouth puckeringly sour. Or it’s a “good keeper”, which really means it’s certainly not drinkable now (and possibly not ever).
The longer you drink wine, the more it becomes apparent that the descriptions written on the bottles is in a language other than English. Let’s just call it Oenolish. Its a language similar to English in grammar, and it seems that most all the words are the same, only the meanings of the words are different.
For example the word “foxy” in English means anything from clever to sexy. But in Oenolish “foxy” means the musky grapey flavor attached to native American grapes of the Vitis. labrusca family. Now this can be a bit of a problem if one hears of a foxy wine and thinks it’s a cheeky, sexy little bottle and it turns out to be Welch’s grape juice with a kick.
In an effort to keep these little tragedies to a minimum we have developed an Oenolish glossary. Here’s a “for instance”.
Blush Wines: English: A wine made from red skinned grape and leaving juice in contact with the skins for just a bit to impart color. Enolish: I’d blush too.
As you can see there is a big difference between the two languages. Here are some more examples of the the Oenolish definition of common English words and phrases.
Minerality: A term used to describe a wine that lacks any fruit flavor and tastes like sucking on a rock. Or a wine made from unwashed grapes in extremely dusty conditions.
Alcohol: A word explaining the only reason for wine making. Lets face it if you didn’t get looped drinking it nobody would go to all the trouble.
Interesting: A patronizing term meaning one finds little to praise about a wine, but not wanting to be offensive.
White Zinfandel: Apparently a term born of free association, as the wine is neither white nor does it taste like zinfandel. Also the substance most likely responsible for the demise of Rosé wines in America.
Terrior: What every other farmer calls crop land.
Bouquet: That aroma aspect of wine that requires one to engage in a tedious ritual of swirling wine in a glass and waxing poetic about all the wonderful smells you’re pretending to smell before you can finally slurp it down.
Estate bottled: A bottle wine that’s going to cost you dearly.
Private reserve: See estate bottled and add $15-$20.
Austere: A word describing a wine that would make sawdust sound refreshing
Green Apple: A nice way of saying it was a bad growing season but we had to make it anyway, or we picked too early.
Zingy Acidity: Oops we picked way too early.
Brut: Dry enough to suck your tonsils out.
Cat Pee: Supposedly an acceptable component of the nose of Sauvignon Blanc and other wines. But more likely the reason your dad took the cat on a long trip, and your mom steam cleaned the drapes and the carpet.
Vegetative: The aroma produced by a mishap in the winery when someone degrapes the stems.
Approachable: Like calling the class slut “friendly”.
These are some of the terms that we have run across, and have listed here as a public service to all budding oenophiles. As we are sure there are many more, please feel free to add your own translations to our valuable data base by leaving a comment.