How often have you read a wine review and wondered what, exactly, quince tastes like? I’ve never had a quince. Will I enjoy a wine that tastes of quince? I have no idea. By the same token, I’d bet you’ve tasted a wine whose label proudly proclaims rich mocha on the finish, but all you can taste is grapes. What gives? Are the people who review and describe wines bad writers? The wine world has often been criticized as being snobby and pretentious. While the industry has made great strides in recent years, making wine more affordable and approachable, there are wine writers out there who aren’t doing wine any favors with their tongue-twisting, nose-in-the-air reviews. NPR’s Sacramento affiliate, Capital Public Radio, recently shared an interview with Rick Kushman on this topic. Kushman is the wine commentator for Capital Public Radio, and also co-hosts, with Paul Wagner, a radio show called Bottle Talk with Rick & Paul. Kushman and Wagner have been collecting examples of bad wine writing from listeners. Listen to the 11 minute Capital Public Radio broadcast here, for some dizzying examples. If you’ve got more time, check out the full 49 minute Bottle Talk episode here.
For a little added fun, check out this Random Wine Review Generator. Here’s one I got: “The 2005 Zinfandel from Chateau Cousteau fuses nihilistic rosemary undertones with a melancholy parsnip aftertaste.” Mmm, delicious.
Yes, reviews and descriptions are helpful. But no matter how flowery and poetic the review, or how descriptively detailed the label…Drink what you like!