Thursday, September 10, 2015

Something smells fishy.

At the end of last week's class, the instructor gave me and my classmates a homework project. Our assignment was to find the silliest wine review we could.  Simple, right?  Well, not really. Over the years, I have read dozens of weird reviews that were chock-a-block with outlandish wine descriptors, I just had to pick my favourite. Problem was, now that I needed one I couldn't recall any (and I certainly hadn't kept any).
A quick search on the internet proved to be quite fruitful.  One particular wine review - and it was a doozy - repeatedly popped up no matter how I phrased my search question.  Bizarre descriptors? Strange bouquets in wine? Pompous wine reviewers?  Hmm, but wouldn't all of my classmates also come across the very same glib review by merely Googling 'silliest wine reviews'?  Yup, I had to do better.
Vinomaker suggested I use one of my own reviews.  Not funny.  Then I thought perhaps I should use a review of a wine made from a native American grape (always amusing on the palate, no?).  Scuppernong (Vitis rotundifolia) is just simply a silly grape and the review I found of wine made from this muscadine grape was rather amusing.  But, on a serious note, I wasn't brought up to make fun of the less fortunate, snigger, snigger.  So as a last resort, and I'm ashamed to admit it, I decided to seek professional help.  (Yes, I know Thud, it's long overdue.)  I sent a quick email to Dr. Jamie Goode, English wine columnist, author and wine scientist begging for a favour.  Good enough (hee, hee), Dr. Goode answered my email and then followed up with another email.  The second email included an attachment; an Air Canada Business Class wine list, with a note that said, "...they are totally meaningless." And I understand what he means.  Trite, vinous descriptors abound, e.g., "bold aromas; luscious texture; full bodied; velvety mouthfeel; complex bouquet; subtle notes of (fill in the blank); lingering finish; bright and complex; exquisitely balanced." And there were more.  If someone had removed the varietals and names of these wines I wouldn't have known, through such generic and interchangeable descriptors, if these wines were indeed red or white.  Meaningless, yes, but probably sufficient for when one is hurtling through the sky at 550 mph at 38,000 feet.  Many thanks for your input, Dr. Goode.
As it happens, I did eventually find a few silly reviews by myself.  I remembered a particular blog that I used to read years ago and recalled that the gentleman whose blog it was had a rather flowery way of writing wine reviews.  How does "a sort of red cherry licorice-cigarette paper element" sound?  It actually makes me feel a bit ill.  The same blogger is big on descriptors such as, "talc-like" and "lithic".  And "propulsive" seems to be used frequently whether it is in the describing of energy or acidity.  And I particularly like, "potent and seductive ferrous and sanguinary nature," and "chiseled and scintillating limestone elements." This blogger has received many Wine Blog Awards.  And he apparently also received a Roget's Thesaurus for Christmas.
And what was the one silly wine review that repeatedly surfaced on my web search?  It was a review by Robert Parker Jr., (I wasn't going to name names, but Bobby's a big boy he can handle it), that described a Pouilly-Fumé as having "notes of shrimp shell reduction and iodine."  Of course, the first person called upon in class read out this very review.

6 comments:

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

So much fun! LOL!!!
Sniggering at one's own person is almost always a good thing, and as I read some of my newbie reviews I came across this (might have instigated high magnitude guffaws):
Dec. 2010 "Ridge East Bench 2007 Zinfandel, $28.99, 91 points, has a ruby color, is another aromatically resplendent, smooth and easy drinking red wine, but packed with purposeful power pleasure in its succulence. A medium to full-bodied wine that at first is deceptive, but then comes the hammer, and the impact of a plethora of intense black fruit, cigar-espresso-spice flavors that are well integrated, with a spicy finish, making this a FINE Zinfandel wine."
Yes! Have a good laugh on me, but even as a newbie (blooming tippler) wine taster, I knew a good Zin when I tasted one!

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Ha, I am afraid to go back and read some of my own reviews for fear I would want to write a nasty email to myself.
"Purposeful power pleasure"? I may have to use a PPP scale of 1-10 for future wine reviews :)

Thomas said...

Dennis, that is one priceless, pompous, peruile review ;)

This is why I don't do wine reviews, denying Vinogirl of one more potential silly talk for class.

Dennis Tsiorbas said...

Thomas: Cute alliteration, I said sniggering!

Thud said...

Is that flying at 550 at 38000ft in a plane or just solo, if not in a plane I can see the lack of utility in a wine list...a stiff shot of bourbon perhaps.

Vinogirl said...

NHW: You seem to like the word, snigger :)

Thud: Definitely solo (or, not so low).