Ditch the Fancy Wine Talk: It's Sweet or Savory

Eric Asimov: It's time to simply descriptors for consumers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2011 1:45 PM CST
A man pours a glass of red wine in the file photo.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

(Newser) – Next time someone starts waxing poetic about the particular aromas of a wine, tell them to stick a cork in it. Those "gaudy descriptions" are often meaningless, writes Eric Asimov in the New York Times. In fact, "the more specific the description of a wine, the less useful information is actually transmitted," he writes, comparing two reviewers' notes ("huckleberry" vs. "spice box"?) about the same bottle. It's time the wine world simplified and started using two descriptors: sweet or savory.

"These two simple words suggest the basic divide of all wines, the two grand categories that explain more about the essence of any bottle than the most florid, detailed analogies ever could," he writes. "Just as important, thinking of wine in this more streamlined fashion is an efficient method for clarifying your own preferences." He explains his terms in the full column, offering Zinfandel, California pinot noir, and Napa cabernet as examples of "sweet," and white Burgandy, dry reisling, and extra-brut Champagne as "savory."

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