Categorized | Blog, New to Wine?

Wine Terminology – Why?

Some folks are going to scoff at this post – but then again, who am I to care? I can’t help but wonder why we, as wine drinkers, get caught up into using the industry venacular when it comes to our wine? Here are a few examples of words I wish we (as Americans) could stop using – they only make us sound like snobs. Here are just a few terms I use and hear others use often which – come to think of it – drives me nuts:

  • Terroir – Who the hell even knows what this word means that isn’t someone who works in the industry or a snob? How about just using microclimate and soil?
  • Varietal – Why not just say variety?
  • Vintage – Just saying “year 2xxx” works fine
  • Blanc – Once again, English works great – just say “white”
  • Dolce – Just say “sweet”
  • I’d love to hear some of your pet-peeves of words so be sure to drop me a line – if I like it, we’ll add it to this post:

    • Thad

      DP, I commend you on your efforts to promote more layman’s speak when it comes to wine.

      I have to admit that it was only about a year ago that I could properly pronounce the French word, “terroir”, correctly. And it was done with much reservation, as I too saw this as one of those highfalutin words coming from the old world. But similar to words such as “trophy” or “traffic”, I came to appreciate the meaning of “terroir”.

      There is no other word that describes a larger context for wine that goes beyond soil or climate to the people and place that influence particular wines. I don’t see it as snobbery to use “terroir” any more than someone calling a car an “automobile” or a person starting a business an “entrepreneur”.

      Heck, use of this word and others like it are motivating me to study French, just so I can pronounce their language without looking like a fool.


    • JoshL

      I agree with Thad about the “T” word. Its meaning is robust, focused, and, if in the right company, pretty unmistakable. I also agree that using something a little closer to home, such as “micro climate” can sometimes get the point across, especially to someone unfamiliar with industry terms.

      The term I’m still getting used to: “spitting.” 😉

    • dp

      I know there’s no other word for “terroir” – so let’s make one up. I mean, if allyourbasearebelongtous can get its own Wikipedia entry, then surely we can come up with a word of our own that means the same thing, no? :)

    • JoshL

      hahaha. all you base, base, base!