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BIRDS OF A FEATHER – LAUGHABLE WINE DESCRIPTIONS

John Tilson • 1/23/12        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

birds of a feather cartoon

When I first started writing about laughable wine descriptions (to read that article click here and to read the follow up article click here) I was prompted by some of the notes that friends sent me. Also, I was in agreement with what people were telling me about not understanding wine descriptions. An example of that is this note: “…I have always been amazed by the Word Salad and Adjective Cocktails blended into most wine reviews. Road tar, saddle leather, pencil shavings, dust, cigars and their boxes, minerals, stones & gravel, and everything else mother told you never to put into your mouth. My favorite was a 100 point Chateauneuf du Pape that was redolent with ‘animal fur.’ Wet or dry? Wild, feral or domestic? With or without mothball overtones?… Hope he had a nice “palate cleanser” for the rinse…” So far I have not been able to find the details for this description, as the person mentioned the name of the reviewer (This is deleted in the spirit of being an equal opportunity commentator for laughable wine descriptions following the herd mentality. These I have described as “Birds of a Feather”.) However, the person did not mention the name of the wine or the date of the review.

laughing face

Since I do not subscribe to the 100 point state of mind in any of its manifestations, I get most of my laughs from the big numbers wine descriptions that are sent out by people trying to sell wine. In my view, this is not a real good way to encourage people to buy something. I guess maybe I am old school in the sense that I want something to sound appealing before I buy it. So perhaps it is only the number people are buying. Sadly, that is probably true. But, based on some of the descriptions, I would certainly not buy the wine and I would never buy a wine based on a number. However, I do find many of big numbers wine descriptions laughable and very amusing.

The Old School

Here is the latest installment of “Birds of a Feather” featuring the “liquefying” theme.  I will continue with more “Birds of a Feather” so long as I continue have ammo. And, this is not likely to be an issue since I have quite an arsenal already and it is continuing to build. In fact, should any of you have some favorite laughable wine descriptions, please feel free to send them in. The more the merrier. Like I have said, not only is life too short to drink bad wine, but also it is too short to not laugh and have fun! So, with that in mind, here are a few wine descriptions to tickle your funny bone if nothing else:

FunnyBone

1) Here is a laughable wine description sent to the Underground by a friend with a note that it was one of his favorites. See what you think and see if you can identify the wine:

“The … might be called liquefied Viagra. An incredibly sexy nose of smoke, black fruits, cappuccino, and toasty wood is followed by an expansive, terrifically concentrated wine with a sumptuous texture, no hard edges, beautifully integrated acidity and tannin, and a long, 35 second finish. According to the back label, about 5% … was added in the blend of this stunningly aromatic, multi-dimensional wine. It should drink well for 12-15 years. This is a spectacular wine that must be tasted to be believed.”

 

What is your guess as to the wine being described?

  1. Chateauneuf-du-Pape
  2. Australian Shiraz
  3. California Cabernet Sauvignon
  4. Australian Cabernet Sauvignon
  5. California Merlot
  6. First Growth Bordeaux
  7. California Pinot Noir

 

blue wine

Did you nail it? Supposedly this is a description of 1997 Pride Mountain Vineyards Merlot. So what was the dead give away? Was it the “liquefied Viagra”? Does “liquefied Viagra” smell sexy like smoke, black fruits, cappuccino, and toasty wood”? Geez, is that stuff sexy? Does “liquefied Viagra” have “no hard edges”and a “35 second finish”? If that is the case, you would not have to worry about calling the doctor if your excitement did not subside in 4 hours! After all, the finish is only 35 seconds. Is that the real kicker?

2) How about this description?

“Verbena, aloe vera, melisse, lemon-balm, and finally the usual apple; the palate as always is shady and cool, though more overtly mineral than usual, but the finish crescendos into a salty tide that clings and doesn’t quit. I love when … writes about finishes that “last a minute.” A minute??? Dude, this little insignificant … has a finish you taste for ten minutes, and the only way to obliterate it is with the next wine.”

 

WOW! What is this? Maybe a new “liquefied Viagra”? After all, this review does mention the name of the reviewer of the last wine (deleted). Maybe the two of them are from the same nest? The wine is “shady and cool…. crescendos into a salty tide that clings and doesn’t quit…, …has a finish you taste for ten minutes and the only way to obliterate it is with the next wine.” And, what, pray tell, would that next wine be? Maybe a monster wine like Purple Death? (to read the article on Purple Deathclick here) But, I am left wondering why you would want to obliterate the taste if it is good. Still it doesn’t sound so good to me. Maybe it’s bad because the “salty tide” keeps rushing in and won’t go away. Then I guess you have to run and get another bottle of something. Wine or Listerine? I don’t know because I have never had to obliterate a clinging salty tide” that doesn’t quit in my mouth. So I give up. And, the name of the wine? Any guesses? Isn’t the clinging salty tide” the real give away? If so, it is none other than a German Riesling – 2009 Willi Schaefer Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese. Get it before the salty tide” recedes!

TIDAL WAVE

3) Continuing with our theme of liquefying things, here’s another liquefication from the creator of “liquefied Viagra.” Take a guess at what is being liquefied next:

  1. Cherries and blueberries
  2. Truffles
  3. Pancakes
  4. See’s candy
  5. Grilled steak
  6. Smoked game
  7. Chicken livers

Well, it’s none of the above really. Here’s the generic description of wines from the producer of the wine that is being reviewed:

“…and no one can argue that he is the appellation’s greatest guardian of traditional winemaking. How does one describe an …Perhaps the best description is that it represents a liquefied charcoal grilled steak heavily crusted on the outside, blood red on the inside, sprinkled with Provencal herbs, and doused in black pepper.”

You see, it’s not just “grilled steak”. It’s “a liquefied charcoal grilled steak heavily crusted on the outside, blood red on the inside, sprinkled with Provencal herbs, and doused in black pepper.” But, no mention of the type of steak – chuck steak, round steak, filet mignon, New York, rib eye, etc., etc. I guess it doesn’t matter if it is liquefied. But, if it is liquefied steak, shouldn’t there be a warning label for vegetarians and vegans?  And, I don’t know how many other things might have been liquefied into wine descriptions. But, “…a liquefied charcoal grilled steak heavily crusted on the outside, blood red on the inside, sprinkled with Provencal herbs, and doused in black pepper” and “liquefied Viagra” should make a potent concoction that would rock your world and perhaps incite latent tendencies. In that case, we might need a visit from the Blending Man. I say “might” only because I think a combination of these two elements might just induce a Kryptonite blow to the Blending Man’s palate. I’ll have to check on that first before making the introduction.

Oh yes, one other thing. Since the generic description is described as “Perhaps the best description…”, let’s take a look at the specific description of the wine being reviewed:

“…is a real treat as this cuvee flirts with perfection. Already revealing some pink and amber at the edge, the color is surprisingly evolved for a wine from this vintage. However, that’s deceptive as the aromatics offer incredible aromas of dried flowers, beef blood, spice, figs, sweet black currants and kirsch, smoked game, lavender, and sweaty but attractive saddle leather-like notes. Full-bodied and massively endowed, with abundant silky tannins, it possesses the balance to age for 30+ years.”

It scored 98 points and was described as “flirts with perfection.” How charming! But, where’s the beef? All we have here is  aromatics with such enticing things as beef blood mixed with dried flowers, spice, figs, sweet black currants (as opposed to sour black currants?) and kirsch, smoked game and lavender encased in sweaty saddle leather. Yum! Bloody, sweaty saddle leather! What a treat! What happened to the “… liquefied charcoal grilled steak heavily crusted on the outside, blood red on the inside, sprinkled with Provencal herbs, and doused in black pepper”. That seems to have somehow morphed into “…full bodied and massively endowed…”  Hmmm. That’s quite a trick!

So do you have any idea of what wine is represented by this review?

  1. Hermitage
  2. California “Cult” Cabernet
  3. First Growth Bordeaux
  4. Grand Cru Burgundy
  5. Chateauneuf du Pape
  6. South African Pinotage
  7. New World Syrah

Here is liquefied steak, beef blood, sweaty saddle, and assorted other goodies revealed:

2001 Henri Bonneau Chateauneuf du Pape Reserve des Celestins

 

Somehow, I just don’t think that this wine bears any resemblance to the descriptions. At least, I hope not!

flock of birds 2

But, there seems to be the sound of chirping birds over the horizon. So, in self defense, I must move on before the flock arrives.

 

 

In Vino Veritas,Sig

John Tilson

Post a Comment

9 comments for “BIRDS OF A FEATHER – LAUGHABLE WINE DESCRIPTIONS”

  1. Great post! It’s my impression that wine descriptions have lost their real meaning — how well it’s made, is it balanced with good structure, and most importantly does it have the components to be a good food wine, which is really what wine, in the final analysis, is all about.

    Esoteric descriptors, I think, are counterproductive–turning off many consumers because they cannot experience, or even identify with them.

    Finally, palates are like fingerprints– everyone is different. What you perceive is not what I perceive. So like Joe Friday used to say, “Just the facts, Ma’m.”

    Posted by tom barras | January 24, 2012, 11:22 am
  2. Thanks Tom.
    I totally agree. Many wines descriptions are so far off the mark that they are truly laughable. I think that is the best way to look at them. Wine drinkers are catching on and with more knowledgeable wine consumers I think that we will get more wine descriptions that make sense. This is reflected in my recent commentary “Drink What You Like & Like What you Drink!”
    And, yes, “Just the facts, Ma’m” works. Palates are different, but there is a limit to the number of things that anyone can smell and taste in a glass of wine!
    Please pass along the Underground.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | January 25, 2012, 2:07 pm
  3. hilarious john! i had a lot of fun reading your article. well done.

    Posted by wes jennison | January 26, 2012, 3:50 pm
  4. John,
    Maybe these writers are being paid by the word!

    Posted by Greg McCluney | January 28, 2012, 8:41 am
  5. Thanks Wes.
    Like I said in the article, I have a lot more ammo. So I will be reloading and taking aim at more “Birds of a Feather” soo!
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | January 30, 2012, 12:20 pm
  6. Sorry, I didn’t realize that you wanted footnotes. The animal fur in question was part of an unappetizing pot-pourri of descriptors of the 100 point Pegau CdeP Cuvee da Capo 2000 in WA #151, February 2004. In addition to 16% ABV, the wine also has plenty of unctuosity, a word that neither my spell check nor my dictionary recognize. I hope it also has deliciosity, as it is frightfully expensive.

    All the Best

    Mort

    Posted by Mort Maizlish | February 8, 2012, 5:28 pm
  7. Thanks Mort,
    It really doesn’t make too much difference about the details anyway. There are so many goofy descriptions that they all run together. I don’t know this wine and plan on keeping it that way. I do not like these alcoholic fruit bombs even if they score 1000 points! I guess if you are into animal fur in your wine maybe “unctuosity” fits in there too! Doesn’t that just excite you no end? Syrupy or thick is what I would think it might be referring to, but I really don’t know. The world of make believe is hard to decipher! And, how about “deliciosity”? That could work with syrup! As for what it costs, who cares? The 100 point leemings don’t care about the price no matter how high and others like me don’t care about the wine no matter how low the price! There’s room for everyone!
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | February 10, 2012, 5:55 pm
  8. […] The Underground Wine Letter – Laughable Wine Descriptions […]

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    Posted by Wine For the Ages: Tasting in Emoji | tiffandsauce | September 15, 2015, 2:06 am
  9. Fun post John. You can find the “blood-soaked animal fur” review at WineSnark http://winesnark.com/become-a-wine-critic-superhero/ along with the rest of the review that also compares the outstanding wine as smelling of fresh horse dung. You and your readers may also enjoy my wine descriptions in this post, http://winesnark.com/the-wine-review-review-1/ and the follow up post, http://winesnark.com/the-best-snarcasms-of-2015/ Sorry for all the links, but I think readers of this post will appreciate them.

    Posted by Don Carter | August 11, 2016, 7:25 am
  10. Thanks Don,
    I followed your links and found your comments funny and far fetched at the same time. The wine descriptions I quote are actual quotes from some of the 100 point wine writers. They were meant to be serious, but in reality are just goofy!
    The Underground is totally focused on the consumer and a strong advocate of wine ingredient labeling. I hope you enjoy it.
    In Vino Veritas,
    John

    Posted by John Tilson | August 18, 2016, 2:01 pm

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