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Poll Shows Wine Descriptions are Unhelpful and Pompous . . . How Would You Describe Wine?

Some wine flavours 3news on how people feel about wine descriptions has hit the press this week which has made interesting reading. According to Harpers a poll commissioned by Laithwaites revealed that wine descriptions are ‘more pompous than helpful.’ The poll covered 1000 wine drinking adults and 55% said that wine descriptions failed to help them understand the flavour of wine, while nearly two thirds said they never get the same smells from wine as are suggested from the label. Only 9% said they looked to wine critics before choosing a bottle.

Those polled were given 43 words and phrases used to describe different wines used by critics, supermarkets and on wine labels in the last year. From these they were asked to identify five that they found most and least helpful.

The least helpful were:

flavourfirm skeleton
old bones
wet stone
tongue spanking
spring hedgerows

Other terms found puzzling included: vegetal, leathery, chunky, canny and minerality.

The most helpful terms were:


wilf 2When they were asked why the descriptions were not helpful, ‘responses included finding them meaningless, bearing no relationship to a wine’s taste, pretentious and a load of poppycock’.

‘Six out of ten people said picking out a clear fruit taste in the wine was the best way to help understand a wine’s taste and also found it helpful when food pairings were suggested.saint estephe 1

Nearly half of the group surveyed said wine descriptions could be improved by using modern day language and comparisons.’

I must admit to using minerality amongst my wine descriptions – for me it represents the delicate smell or taste of wet stones (slate, flint or pebbles). It’s a hard one to pin down so I can understand why it is classed as being unhelpful – even wine tasters don’t always agree about its definition and of course, all our palates are different so we all taste things differently.

I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the matter or whether you can come up with some better wine descriptions?

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4 Responses to Poll Shows Wine Descriptions are Unhelpful and Pompous . . . How Would You Describe Wine?

  1. gdfo says:

    I think it is a matter of several things. Love, experience, clear sense impression and memory.

    I can see where someone can mistake a wine quality for the human behaviour of ‘brooding’ and I account for this coming from someone who is romancing their ego. (LOL)

  2. The Wine Badger says:

    Minerality is the one that irks me beyond belief. I am quite new to this game and am unaware if it is bad form to provide links to ones blog on a comments page. If so apologies and feel free to delete this comment, but I have a fair bit to rant about on this matter.

    • Nick says:

      Thanks for commenting. No worries re leaving a link – it’s good to discover your blog – a great read :-) I enjoyed your rant! Good points and also very funny – haven’t quite recovered from the tasting note: “Pure. Like licking the morning dew off Aphrodite’s bottom” . . . it may take me some time LOL

      Cheers Nick