Describe that Description, Part II

July 6, 2015 No comments »
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A couple of weeks ago, we poked fun at some ridiculous (but very true) words that “professional wine people” use to describe wines.  Wine verbiage like “racy” and “angular” were enough to make us chuckle first, then scratch our heads, and finally wonder what on earth “angular” tastes like.

This week we’re continuing our analysis into the world of wine descriptions by looking at the back label – the part that tell us about flavors, smells and food pairings.  Apparently, the words and descriptions used on the back label of a bottle of wine can make or break it.  Not that it really matters to us anyway.  We tend not to have our wines professionally ranked or rated. Still, we do use the backs of our labels to try and give our guests a good idea what our wines taste like.  Of course, we prefer you taste the wine first at our tasting counter.  When it comes to how are wines are perceived, we listen closely to those who drink it and take it from there.


How will you know if it’s a good wine? Simple, you’ll like it

Photography credit: DS Tapie Photography

It’s definitely worth saying that Mark Allen Thornton, the author of the article, Buying Wine from the Back Label, which we are referencing here, did his homework!  He compiled and analyzed an insane amount of words, phrases and jargon from wine labels to figure out which words “performed” better than others, based on consumer preference and professional ratings.  If you have some time, check out his article here.

Some highlights of what we learned:

1 When it comes to white wines, using the word “location” in the label description is the kiss of death. On the other hand, the words “glass”, “handcrafted”, or “vintage” are found on white wines that are generally ranked and rated highly by tasters and wine rankers.

2 For red wines, the word “value” is a word that should be avoided while the word “black” (as in black fruit notes) is indicated on high ranking reds.

3 It’s good to claim that a white wine is the “greatest” in a description.  People will believe it. As for red wines, go ahead and stake claim to its “powerful” character and use the word “vintage” until you’re sick of it.  Whatever you do, don’t describe a red wine as “soft”.

4 And the crème de la crème, absolute worst word one can use on a wine label?  “Pasta”! Now I know Ponte’s broken that rule!  According to Thornton, “Pasta shows up in the bad clouds for both red and white wines in the consumer rating analysis and for the reds in the professional rating analysis.”  Of course, none of our wines actually taste like pasta.  We just like to let you know which of our wines are good with pasta. Thornton says this doesn’t matter…perhaps we have nothing better to say about the wine so we instead talk about what best accompanies it.  Blah, blah, blah.

Like we always say, there is no definite way to claim a wine is good or bad.  It’s completely up to the consumer.  If you like it, it’s good wine, be it our “greatest vintage ever with flavors of black cherry” or a “true value of a white wine, excellent with pasta.”

“If you like a wine, no one should convince you otherwise!” – Mark Allen Thornton

–Erica Martinez

Photography Credit: DS Tapie Photography


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