Saturday, 12 April 2008

Tasting notes

Graham crackers fresh from the boxImage via WikipediaA bit of a change this week, as instead of looking at my own local weekend supplements, I've been trawling through the archives of the Wine Spectator's What Am I Tasting? feature, which has produced a magnificent harvest for one week. Bear in mind all the terms we've encountered so far, some 140 in all, have been left out to avoid duplication. And that's only one year of the archive. So lots more plundering to come, I hope.

Another point about the source: these terms are all as used, and for once haven't been translated by me from another language.

And a general point: the WS goes further than the Flemish press, towards the sort of territory often parodied when wine-writers are being mocked. But ask yourself this: how many of these terms do I not understand? How many of them are inappropriate to a description of taste (whether or not they're appropriate to a description of a particular taste)? Okay, words like tar, flint or tobacco may not sound very delicious, but they do, I think, convey something about a taste which you could at least imagine.

The only one that kind of stumped me was 'sanguine'. What did he mean, blood? If so, it makes sense, though it's funny how we usually convey the taste of blood by reference to another material -- metal. So then how far is 'sanguine' from 'iron'? Perhaps we'd need to have the glasses in front of us to know for sure.

I'll be going back to the WS well in weeks to come, as well as catching up with my usual sources in between. At some point I'll post the full cumulative list, which I'm also updating and keeping in alphamabetical order. If anyone wants a copy, just let me know.

So here is this week's list:

kirsch, French roast, Graham cracker, wood, mineral, lemon verbena, iron, plum cake, loam, dried papaya, cardamom, mushroom, grilled thyme, black olive, sage, boysenberry, dark cocoa, tar, honeysuckle, cracked pepper, smoky, meaty oak, quince, persimmon, dried pineapple, bread dough, butterscotch, plum, spring blossoms, slate, brioche, lemon zest, straw, flowers, hazelnut, fresh earth, garrigue, stone, mocha, tangy grass, chive, flint, sweet spice, sanguine.