Lonely Man of Cake

February 12, 2007

Describing Wine

Filed under: Culinary,Wine — lonelymanofcake @ 6:22 pm

One of the major problems with tasting wine is the lack of “objective” terminology which can be used to describe the taste. For example, one who sips a Cabernet and wishes to share his impressions with his dinner party, will aver that the wine tastes “like raspberry and cherry, with a hint of vanilla.” In essence, wine can be defined only in terms of the tastes of other foods. Wine does have taste properties which are wine specific (e.g., tannins), but taste describing the taste itself is subordinate to other fruits and spices.

This article (via ALDaily) confronts these issues from an epistemological standpoint:

If a chardonnay tastes a bit like a peach, what then does the peach taste like? A chardonnay?… If you must describe the Van Loveren 2001 limited edition Merlot as being “chocolately”, does it mean that chocolate tastes like the Van Loveren Merlot?…
These are questions of a profound epistemological weight. They reflect the uncertain status of anything we claim to know and understand. If I don’t understand the meaning of a word, and I look it up in the dictionary, I see it explained in other words. Those other words, in case I don’t understand them either, are explained by yet further words. There is no absolute point of reference. So where does knowledge begin? Aren’t we all just refracting meaning around from one word to another in a pleasant verbal gavotte to fill in the time as we wait for death?

The author then goes on to detail how he will only use “objective” terminology in his reviews of wine, and then gives up altogether. Read, and enjoy.

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1 Comment »

  1. That was equally interesting at the same time as insightful!
    Thank you for sharing your feelings with us.

    Comment by France — April 17, 2013 @ 1:18 am | Reply


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