If you ever want to over-think your palate, try attending a weekend of wine seminars.
I’m not complaining, but after listening to a string of sommeliers at Durango’s sixth annual Wine Experience, a local celebration of the fruit of the vine, I’m thinking I might have deadened the nerve endings on my tongue, not to mention my ears.
Or maybe I’ve just short-circuited my brain and now it’s numb, too. Either way, I think I’m ready for a vacation from all adjectives that describe wine.
Several years ago I spent a week in Napa and Sonoma, and swirled, sniffed, slurped and even blended my own wine. The more I learned, the less I thought I knew. Now I’m sure of it.
I appreciate viniculture. I could have taken a second class in agronomy because I like dirt. I was intrigued by the viruses that threaten vines, the predators and the effect of cool nights and dry hot days on grapes. Give me more of that, please.
I know how a buttery Chardonnay tastes, although the word buttery still makes me think the wine ought to slip off my tongue, just like what you count on when you grease a muffin tin.
I can appreciate a bouquet when it is citrus-like, because the fragrance of an orange blossom is distinct. Same goes for vanilla.
But how does a “beautiful” nose taste?
And when is a Chianti “watery”? Isn’t all wine more or less “watery”?
If someone were to lean in my direction and say, “So Karen, tell us what you think about this wine. You’re a food writer.”
Let’s see now…
“I get a distinct grape scent, with a moist, grape-like, brooding wetness throughout my mouth. Yes, yes – a full, round, grape bouquet, resting on straw after a spring rain. Awesome, round grapes.”
I could talk about legs, too. If swirling wine lingers long enough to streak a glass, that’s enough leg for me.
I might throw a safe pitch with “oak-like” and “round,” because chances are my wine might have spent time in a round oak barrel. (Not a square one.) But I’d stop myself before I said “oakey,”which is what wine aficionados might say.
I think before anyone is allowed to opine about any wine, he ought to be forced to play a round of Wine Tasting Jeopardy.
In Wine Tasting Jeopardy, there’s no buying Ys, like you might buy a vowel.
Once sommeliers forbid slapping Ys on every insipid noun on the planet, those who dominate wine tasting seminars would be rendered speechless. No more stupid terms like apple-y, musky, forest-floory or God forbid, barnyardy.
Three days after hearing it, I’m still rolling around the description: “tinny overtone.” Did I hear that right? Tinny? Like in “tin can” tinny? Or Rin Tin Tin tinny?
I suppose the taster could have described the wine with a tinny understory and then I would have been further stymied, full of woe, worried that the understory was not fully supported. What if the wine being sipped had a robust, yet indescribable, Y-ending overtone?
Or worse, an assault-like, metal finish?
I do like the word finish, though. I actually get finish.
It means you’re done.
See you next year, Durango Wine Experience.