Guest Writer: Brittney Perreault
Northwest Wine Night TV Senior Producer

It doesn’t take a professional to describe something they are tasting. It is one of our five senses after all. Why is it that when you’re asked to describe the wine you’re drinking it’s so intimidating?

My husband’s drink of choice isn’t wine, but he humors my obsession by drinking a glass every now and then with me. Instead of cheating by looking at the wine notes on the bottle, I pick out flavors that I’m tasting first. It’s turned into a fun game to see if I taste something totally off the wall. I challenge my husband by asking him what he tastes. I’m not sure he’s a fan of this game because he thinks I’m expecting an extravagant description. Which I’m totally not. But again, he humors me and comes up with an answer. Such a great husband, right? Last I checked there isn’t a requirement to be a walking thesaurus to enjoy wine.

Contrary to popular belief, wine lingo isn’t always fancy, and it doesn’t have to be. Most of the time descriptions aren’t even real words! Often they are words that the letter “y” has been thrown on the end of. Jammy, plummy, earthy, smoky. There’s nothing fancy about these words, don’t feel limited to use lingo if that’s not what you’re getting after you take a sip.

On Northwest Wine Night TV our panelists are not shy to use whatever word comes to mind when describing the wine they are tasting. We’ve heard everything from “Yummy”, “Oooh”, “More please”, “Racy”, “Mineraly”, and “Crisp”. When I was a panelist on the show I believe I said something like “a fruit bomb in my mouth.” Own it! They are your taste buds, you taste what you taste, there’s no wrong answer and unless you use a real vulgar word, I don’t think you will offend the wine makers.

Our friends from Bells Up Winery in Oregon said, “The insights from the panelists were really helpful and gave us some additional flavor and aroma feedback we hadn’t heard before. “Rhubarb-y-esque” is probably our favorite.” There’s nothing fancy about the word “Rhubarb-y-esque”, but it works!

One of my favorite ways to describe wine is by associating an experience that pairs with it. That counts as a description to me. Some wines are couch wines, some are happy hour with girlfriend’s wines, and some are romantic dinner with your honey wines. Placing myself in scenarios make me want to drink a wine more than the typical full bodied, dark fruit, earthy wine lingo most often used.

I encourage you to trust your sense of taste, and just say the first thing that comes to mind when you take a sip of wine. Wine should be fun, not intimidating. Cheers!


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