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Poetic Licence?



Without wanting to defend their use, I have always found geometric terms in tasting notes to be intuitive. A four-square wine is solid and robust I would say, but that merely replaces one metaphor with two others!

Yet I have always struggled with palate weight, which many seem to find easy to understand. I do know what it means, but it never feels natural to me to describe a wine’s weight, and when I do I always doubt I have it right.


Another great one I encountered just now: “library polish”.
How very specific! :face_with_monocle:


Steven, when I run courses on tasting many attendees struggle with wine weight. I use the milk analogy.
Think of a continuum of weights - at one end full cream milk weight, ranging through semi-skimmed and to skimmed at the other end. Only in terms of weight in the mouth, you understand.
It seems to work for most people.


This is where Hugh Johnson’s approach comes in. Not about description, more about just how far would you go… one sip to buying the vineyard!


I understand how alcohol and sugar give wine a more oily texture, but tend to describe that as viscosity. I think that is the “skimmed-milk to cream” scale.

But tannins seem to me to have very little effect on anything that I would call weight or body. They cause astringency, which affects how the wine interacts with my gums, but to me the actual liquid can still feel light and delicate. In fact that is how I often perceive Nebbiolo wines, and I find it very attractive.

I think what I am saying is that I understand body at one level, but it is not something that is meaningful to me in many cases, while WSET would seem to have you think it is a fundamental dimension of wines. Sometimes though the weight of a wine is obvious even to me, perhaps mainly when all the factors that contribute towards it work together - a Vintage Port or Sauternes vs a dry German Riesling for example.


You’re correct, tannins are more of a taste sensation (bitterness, astringency) than a touch sensation (weight).
The WSET chart ask candidates to gauge tannins (low medium- medium medium+ high). Body is a separate descriptor (same 5 point scale as tannins) and the WSET says it’s an amalgamation of many structural components. You can have high, pronounced tannins and a light body (think Cab Franc and, as you say, Nebbiolo.) There are other components affecting the weight.
And, of course, you can have virtually no tannins and yet weight (e.g. Rhone whites, Semillon).
That’s why I stick to the milk analogy - hopefully getting tasters to focus on pure touch sensations initially. That then provokes discussions about what components are possibly giving the weight (or lack of it).


Wine descriptors remind me a lot like a persons perception of art.
Some people can be very descriptive of the aromas and taste ‘flavours’ and have a more scientific perception of what they see in front of them.
Others are more descriptive in their emotions and the experience of the wine.
I think it depends on how each individual is ‘wired’ to what they perceive so there is no right or wrong.


Bitterness is a taste, but surely astringency is sensed physically, through touch? In reality, perception of wine is not so neatly categorised, but those two are comparatively straightforward.


I use flinty totally differently - a sort of fairly closed, not unpleasant, almost metallic finish. This demonstrates how these terms can obfuscate.


You’re right, Steven - astringency is a tactile sensation. Apologies.

btw I enjoyed looking at your winenous blog. I write one with a mate, it’s called Talk the Cork.


Ah so you are the other half, very good readable blog, I found it by chance a couple years or so back before I joined the WS so although Richard let it known about the blog the other half was not known until now.


Thanks, Cerberus. It’s good to know we have a reader. :slight_smile:


Not exactly poetry but recieved this morning…

Excellent Medical Advice

I do not understand why prescription medicine is allowed to advertise on TV or why anyone would think of trying one of the medicines after listening to the laundry list of warnings of possible side effects.

But this is definitely an exception!

Do you have feelings of inadequacy?
Do you suffer from shyness?
Do you sometimes wish you were more assertive?
Do you sometimes feel stressed?

If you answered yes to any of these questions,
ask your doctor or pharmacist about Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the safe, natural way to feel better and more confident. It can help ease you out of your shyness and let you tell the world that you are ready and willing to do just about anything.

You will notice the benefits of Cabernet Sauvignon almost immediately, and, with a regimen of regular doses, you will overcome obstacles that prevent you from living the life you want.

Shyness and awkwardness will be a thing of the past.
You will discover talents you never knew you had…

Cabernet Sauvignon may not be right for everyone.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use it
but women who would not mind nursing or becoming pregnant are encouraged to try it.

Side effects may include:

dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, loss of motor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth and a desire to sing Karaoke and play all-night Strip Poker, Truth Or Dare and Naked Twister.


The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may cause you to tell your friends over and over again that you love them.

The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may cause you to think you can sing.

The consumption of Cabernet Sauvignon may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people.

Please feel free to share this important medical information!



You should read some of the rubbish I see in travel industry press releases; hotel PRs take the biscuit: “Nestled into the South-East corner of Corfu…”, of a new skin treatment, “It’s [sic] ideal composition in minerals encourages tissue exchanges, revitalizes the cellular metabolism and stimulates the skin’s natural defence system…”; and more has been ‘curated’ by unknown designers for hotels than any art museum could possibly aspire to


Well, if it’s not locally sourced, artisanal, natural and hand selected - I ain’t going!