language


Readers of this blog, and those who have heard me speak at conferences, will know that my relationship with the language wine people use is complicated. There are often reasons for the words we use, but those reasons are not always self-evident. Nor do we do a very good job of making this known, and explaining what those words are intended to convey. In many ways, and many times, wine language is coterminous with, but not equal to,...

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I wondered, back in December, if certain kinds of tasting notes were soulless. I want to return to this point, and take it in a slightly different direction. I want to think about the ways in which tasting notes can be unduly restrictive. One of the starting points for this is further reflection on the WSET fortified wines exam I sat about a month ago, and in particular, one of the wines, an Oloroso sherry. The other starting point is...

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Coming soon – a new, semi-regular addition to our blog. Have you ever wondered what the descriptions on the back of a wine bottle, or the tasting notes in your local wine shop actually mean? Then the Wine Decoder is for you. Using real examples, we’ll help you get the most out of picking and understanding wine. Learn why some wines smell like green apples, others like bubblegum, and others like bacon. Learn why some...

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I have a problem with ‘natural wine.’ The more I think about ‘natural wine,’ the more I object to it. There is nothing natural about it. As an anthropologist, I think it needs to be consigned to the compost heap. Now that I have your attention, let me be clear: I am very sympathetic to the philosophy behind what is often called ‘natural wine.’ I’m running a research project that focuses in large part on it. It is the term itself I...

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The ideas behind this post are still vague phantoms that refuse to take concrete form, but as I tell my students, writing is often a good way of thinking ideas through. What I am trying to think through here is the concept of ‘translating the senses.’ The fact that we should be paying attention to other senses than the visual is fairly well-established in anthropology and related fields, even if it is perhaps more honoured in the...

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This post is something of a follow-up to my previous one, on ‘wine-sensing.’ This time, and in the following post, I want to consider talking and writing about wine, in part as a way of trying to sort out ideas for an academic paper I’m working on. Anyone visiting this website is probably familiar with the stereotypes of pretentious wine snobs and their descriptions: an elegant if demanding wine, at the peak of maturity, with hints of...

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