Pretentious Things to Say at a Wine Tasting, Should You Want to…

Pretentious with a slight hint of BSIf you are a regular reader of this site, you probably already know that I don’t take myself too seriously. There is a fine-line though. I like to have fun with wine, but there is occasionally a little more serious side to it.
The following is my list of Pretentious Things to Say at a Wine Tasting. This list isn’t hypothetical, these are ACTUAL comments I have heard at wine tastings (apart from the one about Provence). Some of them are fairly legitimate, others are just plain douchey.

 

 

Welcome to Napa!“…well I used to live in Napa, so…”

Contrary to popular belief, living in or near Napa does not make you any kind of expert on wine. Your palate is no more refined. Your taste is no more discerning.
I lived in England for 21 years. It doesn’t make me an expert on bad teeth, tea and cricket.

 

Malolactic Fermentation - Green Apples into Cream“What percentage Malo?”

Malo refers to Malolactic Fermentation, a process which winemakers put a wine through in order to turn the tart green apple-type malic acid, into a smoother, rounder, milky-type lactic acid.
For an example of this, think about a Chardonnay from Chablis (France) compared to a big and rich Napa Chardonnay.
Winemakers can put a wine through varying degrees of malo, depending on the results they are hoping to achieve. Red wines generally go through a full malo, white wines differ based on preference.
If someone at a wine tasting asks me “What percentage malo did this wine go through?”, I’ll normally respond with “Can’t you tell by tasting it?”

 

 

vineyard2“…mmmm, you can really taste the terroir!”

Generally used by people who have just discovered the word terroir; either by hearing a Sommelier say it, or having seen it in a copy of Wine Spectator.

Terrior just means the environmental factors which effect a vineyard,  and therefore the grapes themselves. Terroir in wine is a much debated thing i.e. can you actually taste where a wine comes from.
Personally I believe that terrior plays a major role in the overall flavor of the grapes once they reach the winery, but from that point on it’s all in the hands of the winemaker. For that reason, you could also say: “…mmm, you can really taste the wine-maker in this wine!”

 

 

Yalumba Screwcap“I never drink anything with a screw cap!”

One of the biggest douchey statements in wine, and one I also hear weekly. The screw cap debate is boring, and I’m not going to get into it again on this site. All you need to know is that they aren’t to be frowned upon. Truth be told, I’ve heard of at least one winery which when it came time to re-cork some of their older vintages (since corks deteriorate over time), they actually have chosen to reseal their bottles with a screw cap closure instead.

 

Small Family Winery"It’s as if they took my childhood summers in Provence and put them in a glass. Don’t you agree?"

This one speak for itself…

 

 

 

photo_1871_20060811“What kind of barrels was this wine aged in?”

One of the less pretentious questions in this line-up, although I personally really couldn’t care less what type of barrels a winery uses. As long as the taste is what I’m looking for, I don’t see the point.
It is however kind of interesting to know what the different types of oak can potentially do to a wine.
American oak generally imparts a more intense flavor than French oak due to the wood grain. French oak has a tighter grain, and can yield a more subtle taste. American oak has a wider grain, and is typically used for full-bodied red wines which can benefit from a fair amount of oak contact.

 

Cheap wine wins...maybe.“So this Champagne is only $50 on your wine list…” <takes a sip> “Hmmmm, tastes like it!”

Restaurant and retail pricing on wine can be very misleading. I’ve bought $20 “close-out” wines, which I’ve known that sell for more than $200 on a restaurant wine list. I’ve also tasted plenty of $50 bottles that drink like $30 bottles.  It seems to me that some wineries, just because they are located in prestigious growing regions, think they have the right to automatically charge an arm and a leg!

If you can blind-taste multiple wines and pin-point their exact price within $5-$10, and you aren’t in the wine business; I hate to say this….but you have wasted your whole life.

12 Comments

  • May 5, 2011

    Coupaloop

    I LOVE this post! When I hear these comments at tastings (and I do) it makes me snort wine rather than spit LOL! :)

  • May 5, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    Thanks! I’m sure I can think of more if I try.

  • May 5, 2011

    itsoffal

    excellent post. I needed that.
    1- Damn that’s cold ;-))

    2- malo, can’t you tell ? ROFL

    3- Terroir, in this particular case, wouldn’t the wine-maker be a woman ( i.e – mother nature ) just a thought.
    Which is exactly what you said.

    5- I missed something, no wait that’s Chateau faillite aka Chateau bankrupt, or could it be Domaine tete de cochon.

    6- right with you

    7- People don’t like it when you tell them the wine they just sampled you is only worth 16 bucks on the shelf and their price is gonna make it 25.
    as you said -“i’ve tasted plenty of $50 wines that tasted like $30″.
    wineries tend to take advantage of man’s weaknesses, money doesn’t protect you from it, it only accentuates it.
    Business people fall for it all the time, buying names to impress, $300 btl of wine, sells at retail for $85, not as good as some $15 to $20 wines I’ve had.
    Am I right or am I right.

  • May 6, 2011

    S3

    I was at a casual tasting last weekend (in SW OH) and there was a winery there from KY. While their wines weren’t amazing, their blend was pretty good “deck sipping wine” and at a good price. Well, one woman wouldn’t even try it…she said….”Oh, I can’t bring myself to even THINK about a Kentucy wine….I’m from the West coast and I’ve spent a lot of time in Napa…” I mentioned it to my husband and he said he’d talked to her before and she was the same way about just about any wines outside CA.

  • May 6, 2011

    S3

    OOPS…apologies to the Bluegrass State….I DO know how to spell KENTUCKY!

  • May 6, 2011

    Kathy garolsky

    Hello there i just want say thank for the inspiration i found your site amazing

    Thank you

    -Kathy
    healthandwellnessconsultants.com

  • May 6, 2011

    Heidi Jenkins

    Good stuff Kris ! Thanks.

  • May 6, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    Thanks Miss Jenkins!

  • May 6, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    No you didn’t. You just wanted to drop in a link to your crappy ad-riddled website. I know because I searched ”
    Hello there i just want say thank for the inspiration i found your site amazing” and I came up with a ton of results. Not cool “Kathy”.

  • May 6, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    I will never pick on anyone for spelling mistakes! :) People in glass houses, and all that!

  • May 6, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    That’s so sad. I have a problem with people who state “Oh I hate Chardonnay!” etc. My response is “No you don’t. Your only exposure to it is probably the generic garbage found at a most of grocery stores”. I personally would love to taste wine from Kentucky. Even if that one brand isn’t my thing, I won’t judge a whole State on it.

  • May 6, 2011

    Kris Chislett

    Thanks! :) All great points! Glad we see eye-to-eye!

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