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The importance of words

Today we are looking again at wine-speak, the glorious language of wine. I have plucked out a few handy words for readers and will endeavour to interpret them for you. While many words are self-explanatory and just a matter of getting used to applying them to wine, others may be less obvious or less known: “Fleshy”, for example, refers to one`s perception of fruit and extract on the palate – think “plenty of flesh on the bone” – the opposite is watery, stretched and thin (barely any `flesh`). We talk of “mid-palate”. It`s perhaps understood that “palate” refers to the feel and taste sensation when the wine is in the mouth, but did you know “mid-palate” is the term specifically relating to the middle stage of tasting? The first, the “attack”, is when the taster first detects in the mouth the sense of alcohol, tannins, acidity and sweetness (if any); the second “mid-palate” sensation is perceived having sucked air into the wine, and having swished it about in the mouth. The wine, aerated, releases aromas and flavours, signalling to the taster their characteristics. Simultaneously the weight and shape of the wine is registered and noted by the taster: light, medium-bodied, full-bodied, fat, linear, round, thin, dense etc. The “finish” is its echo, the lingering flavours.  Here`s another word: “restrained”. It`s perhaps difficult for the layman to appreciate how a wine might be held in check, or perhaps reticent to display itself. It may be down to its youth, simply not emerged yet. What they call “bottle shock” can bring this shyness on, after bottling. “Tight” indicates unreadiness, as does “closed”, usually due to a dominance of tannins in youth.  But restrained is generally a more positive descriptor, suggesting the promise of a future, but also elegance and refinement, a self-contained sophistication as it were, even for a wine of mature years: nothing brash about this wine! And besides, decanting may yet coax her out. Cheers all!

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