If 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.
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.
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?”
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!”
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.
This one speak for itself…
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.
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.