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ipso's avatar

What are some funny wine/Scotch tasting terms you’ve heard or created?

Asked by ipso (4466points) June 10th, 2010

Penguin fur, horse breath, orthogonal, ameliorative, donsie, witches hazel, bracken, toad soup, pennies, derby brim leather, etc.

Can be real or emotional.

I love “penguin fur”. (yeah- I know)

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13 Answers

ItsAHabit's avatar

These wine tasting terms sound as if they are describing women: hot, sweet, warm, volatile, fleshy, dirty, dumb, fat, attractive, delicate, foxy, harsh, lean, legs, lush nutty, perfumed. refined, hard, plump, rich. simple, soft, and stylish!

ipso's avatar

That’s an interesting category: like women (“nutty” is funny)

I’m trying to dimensionalize/categorize terms. You just made the list. Thanks!

downtide's avatar

Last year whilst on holiday in Scotland I went to a class on whisky-tasting and by the end of it I actually understood most of those words. It was definitely worth it .

ipso's avatar

@downtide I’ve gone to a few Scotch tasting events. I’ve seen all of Ralfy’s stuff on YouTube (what a character). I’m familiar with the romantic notion of sharing an almost secret personal language, like shown in the movie Sideways (2004). But I still can’t help getting completely floppy-indignant when people spew rhapsodic.

What gets me is when people throw a bunch of “real” stuff out there, just to see if any of it sticks, like iris, witch-hazel and bracken, and then end with an obviously ironic one (“A bit of horse’s breath, don’t you think?”) as if to make it all poetic and OK. It was not OK. I want to say: “You jumped the shark at “iris” – you ponce.” (I’m reminded of the uncle in the movie Withnail & I (1987)

But of course this is just my own frustration in ignorance. I happily understand that.

I see England has her first Whisky in 100 years. Tried it yet?

ItsAHabit's avatar

Try saying that you detect hay, persimmon, or something else that you don’t and see if they take the bait. It works!

downtide's avatar

@ipse English whisky? I didn’t think that was allowed. I’ll hazard a guess that it’ll be a light one, like a Lowland. Personally I prefer Speysides. Apples and treacle. :-D

downtide's avatar

@ipso only a 3 yr old? No. I don’t think I’ll be buying any of that. Certainly not at those prices.

breedmitch's avatar

I love the descriptions in the details portion of this question. Some of your examples are somewhat precious versions of real tasting terms used by professionals.

horses breath: Because of it’s higher pH (than white wines) red wine can be susceptible to a spoilage yeast known at Brettanomyces, which can produce volatile phenols (4-ethyl-phenol, 4-ethylguaiacol). Known as Brett, the aromas can be “horsey” or “barnyard-y”. Some winemakers (and consumers) avoid this trait. I personally love it, because I think it represents a more historically true product in some regions. (In some cases, it’s just a fault.)

derby brim leather: As wine ages it is said to be “developing”. One of the key traits that indicate this are “leathery” notes on the nose and palate. Most professionals would only describe this as “leather” or maybe something as creative as “saddle”. If I heard someone describe the leather as “fine derby” or “rich Corinthian” I think I would run the other direction.

When you have to write descriptions of wines (or spirits) day in and day out, they either all start to sound the same (Let’s face it, there are only so many flavors) or you are forced to get creative. I think you’ll find that there are terms that are widely accepted among professionals, and there are terms that would be generally dismissed as too precious. (I once was in a tasting where a young professional tried to describe the colour of a Hermitage Syrah as “pigeon blood”. He was laughed out of the room. No. It’s Ruby.)

As for Scotch, Laphroaig smells like Magic Marker to me.

And my favourite wine tasting term? Band-Aid.

ipso's avatar

Oh man – “horse breath” is real? I made all those up (sans witches hazel & bracken because they sound so medieval gothic).

I am REALLY happy to hear that “pigeon blood” was “laughed out of the room” in a formal setting. There may be hope. Thank you for the reply.

There should be a Saturday Night Live skit: “The Wine Taster”, with an over the top guy selling wine to NYC wine intelligentsia but who can’t escape the maniacal onslaught.

breedmitch's avatar

I’ve never heard the term “horse breath”, but “horsey”, “horse sweat” and “wet dog” all refer to Brettanomyces.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Wet horse blanket is commonly used for certain expensive French wines.

breedmitch's avatar

I also like the term “flabby” which refers to a wine with less acidity. Also usually a fault.

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