OUT WITH WANKY WORDS

I am guilty of being a WWW user! But, after last, night, I am resolved to change my ways. Yes, I will attempt never again to use Wanky Wine Words to describe my wine. According to the irrepressible Andy Hadfield of RealTimeWine, wanky wine words are banned and should result in immediate ridicule; his list includes:
Nose (it’s just sounds stuck up, and it’s a slippery slope to other snobby words);
Note (this isn’t music, otherwise there’d be noise things going on);
Residual (unless describing the fact that you’re running out of wine) …
His list goes on, a string of words that, to my shame, I’ve fallen into the habit of using.

Last night, along with a group of about 14 writers, I joined Andy and Jenny Ratcliffe-Wright, editor of Winestyle, a recently launched magazine, for a wine soiree at HQ restaurant in Sandton. The restaurant is an interesting concept; there is no menu, you have a salad to start, followed by sirloin and chips. What you see is what you get, and what you get is mighty fine.

We were greeted with flutes of Pongracz MCC (South Africa’s leading Méthode Cap Classique) in the newly released half-bottles (tres pretty), before moving on to a blind tasting of red wines, which we had to comment on, score out of 10, suggest a food match and drinking occasion, and guess the price of.

There was much hilarity at the table. Unfortunately I was too busy to jot down some of the terms used, but Twitter reminds me of terms like ‘farm dirt with pavlova’ and ‘Watered down ribena’. As we ate and drank – and guffawed (is that a wanky word?) – the evening took on a slightly surreal air, with one handsome young bloke announcing – out of the blue – that he’d once done a 2-year stint as a taxidermist.

I just guessed at the prices of the wines (I order wine and my husband collects and pays for it, or wine gets sent to me by estates to try out, I seldom buy it myself, so I don’t have a good grasp of what it costs), but here are my answers to the ones we tasted:

1. Smokey, nostalgic; like school-shoe polish. 6/10. Would go with boerewors. Occasion: compulsory Xmas party for husband’s staff.
2. I like a bit of rough spice, this wine is too much of a Good Girl. 7/10. Beef Wellington. Occasion: Daughter’s headmistress coming to dinner.
3. I retract my previous comment; this wine is as rough as a wife-beater in a dirty vest. 4/10. Hamburger’s friend; I’d serve it to test the mettle of a prospective son-in-law.
4. Reduce it and it’ll make a great vinegar. 3/10. Spaghetti Bolognese on a miserable Monday.
5. Smooth, unobtrusive. 7/10. Babotie or mild curry on Granny’s birthday.
6. Sexy as Colin Firth with a cigar. 8/10. Carpaccio in front of the fireplace, followed by steamy hanky-panky.

It was a wonderful evening and I see that the crowd carried on having fun long after my husband arrived to drive me home safely.

Note:
Winestyle magazine is free to anyone living in South Africa. All you have to do to get your copy is subscribe to their website, click here.

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70 thoughts on “OUT WITH WANKY WORDS

  1. Iprefer your descriptions

    After all
    Nose – that ‘wine’ made mine burn, scared of what it’s doing to my insides
    Note – ‘note to self’ remember never to buy this one
    Residual, yurg! look at that stuff still in the bottle, looks like slugde from the fishpond

  2. Yes, thanks, Cindy and BB, Taxidermy reference squirrelled away accordingly. (is squirrelled a wanky word??)
    Top post, Cindy. Would love to hear the wanky words evangelist in action.

  3. It sounds like you had a great evening but I just wonder why Andy Hadfield’s challenged about what are considered perfectly acceptable technical terms to describe wine? What would he replace ‘nose’ (a direct translation from the French, nez) with? Aroma? Smell? Odour? Any local wineproducer here would use the word ‘nez’ (nose) and you certainly can’t accuse the average Provençal farmer of being a snob!! I guess the same applies to other terms too. I agree that some of them seem far fetched but they are what the professionals use here and have just been translated, I guess. (I worked for 5 years in a winery and did a tasting course at a local agricultural lycée)

    • South Africa is a young country, where wine and the wine industry is – indeed – perceived as snobbish, especially among the younger generation. I think Andy’s mission is to debunk myths and bring the joy of wine across to more people.

    • We’ve chosen to be extra strict on certain words. Language, like marijuana is a slippery slope 🙂 I kid… Obviously Real Time Wine is playing on the extreme, but that’s how you disrupt an industry and bring new customers to the table I suppose.

      The trick is, you’re trained EarlyBird. 5 years, a course, etc. Those words are absolutely fine to you, and you understand them. But the 75% of wine that is being bought at a supermarket in this country – those drinkers – don’t have your training.

      I’m trying to find their voice – and it’s quite an amusing voice to find 🙂

  4. Cindy, it looks as though you lot could out-do real estate sales people with your creativity. I used to have to listen to a boss in Toronto sound like a hormonal tom cat as we cased a rare wine store.

  5. What a fun night!

    This is a great typo:

    wine gets sent to me my estates

    because, though I suspect you meant to write ‘by’, I’m inserting a ‘from’.

    🙂

  6. Ooo I want no. 6 please.
    Damn and here I used wanky words to show that I can be posh about wines too! Pffft well so much for that then, I will just decork and chuck it down the hatch in future!! 🙂

  7. Was so awesome to meet you last night:) Loved your descriptions of the blind tasting…you’ve given me an idea now, think i’ll include the notes I made on my blind tasting in the post too..much less graceful than yours though:)

  8. I have yet to taste any wine, not that I taste a lot of it, that doesn’t taste like vinegar too me.

    Number 3 is very funny and number 6 sounds great.

    Sounds like a fun time.

  9. I’m not much of a wine expert and often have it with someone else who buys or chooses. I do think, however, that if I had to drink with you, I’d have a wonderfully pleasant experience – even if I still know nothing more about wine afterward 😀

    Sounds like you had a blast!

  10. I applaud the fact that all wine snobs should be shot or gagged or both. However, a wine snob is not someone who is able to properly articulate what a wine tastes like. Tasting wine blind is almost instantly humbling in any event (no neccessity to dumb down descriptions). I find the descriptions that you guys use fun, but completely useless – often, it’s even difficult to ascertain from the notes whether the wine was red or white! Sure, some winespeak smacks of snobbism, like “bouquet” which is often used by snobs to describe what a wine generally smells like, when it’s more accurately a reference to the effect of time on the wine (like aromas of bottle age). I will “outfun” most people I know, but if I’m to make any meaningful sense out of what someone else has written about a wine, I want to know what it smells like and what it tastes like (not that it’s like Marilyn Monroe after a couple of drinks on the beach). One would hope that the dumbing down of wine despriptions attract a whole new lot of new wine consumers (it can be an intimidating environment for newcomers), as one would hope that they would move on as they learn – after all: the huge, exciting world of wine has a lot to offer.

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