Lean. Thin. Acidic. Astringent. Bitter.
No, not your mother-in-law. And not me, either.
These are the notes that recently appeared in a wine critic’s notebook. It requires pondering — can a bottle wine resemble, to such an astonishing degree, someone you personally know and, heavens forbid, have to live with?
Let’s face it — if you’re reading this, you probably have a deep-seated desire to be a wine critic who can pontificate on any wine and influence the drinking trends for the next three decades. We have a mini Robert Parker in our closet. We all want to be able to describe wine with fancy jargon in painful detail.
The easiest, quickest and simplest way to become a wine critic is just a click away, really. Go on Google and you can find enough technical information on any wine to share over a boring social dinner. But anyone can regurgitate information. And what if it is inaccurate? After all, the Internet is both an information highway and a platform for every opinion potentially to be taken as gospel truth — a platform, in other words, to end all truth.
So. Reciting information you memorised from a technical fact sheet will make you an absolute bore, and the Internet is potentially hazardous to your credibility. What to do? Simple — become your own maverick wine critic. Do what wine writers seem to do best: describe your mother-in- law, your neighbour’s cat, or that alluring guest seated opposite you.
Have you just been served a Sauvignon Blanc? Swirl the glass with much pomp, stick your nose right in, take a deep whiff, sip, and pontificate. The trick here is to do it with unwavering confidence and just that right amount of snobbery. “A little green, a little thin. Some cat’s pee, too. Dry and linear, kinda boring. Very acidic, 89 points.”
Lo, thou art a god of wine.
Let’s try another bottle. Suppose you’ve been served a Chardonnay, the wine that is fashionable to hate. With ceremonious, purposeful motion, do the necessary: Swirl, sniff, sip and swallow. Then, think about your second aunt, and solemnly declare: “Big. Round. Flinty. A little fat, and somewhat nutty.”
If you are seated opposite a beautiful, tanned, attractive and eloquent young man or lady, you’re in luck. “Very perfumed, floral and elegant on the nose. I see that it’s also nicely balanced, nuanced, composed, delicate, restrained and well-structured. Very sexy.” Remember to wink.
Now, the same method applies for reds. Just remember that a Pinot Noir is less dense than a Merlot, which is less dense than a Cabernet Sauvignon. If there’s an unfamiliar wine and you’re stumped, just refuse the drink.
But then, a good wine critic should never refuse a drink, right? So fall back on the best trick in the book: fake it till you make it. Think of someone we’re all familiar with, or someone whose company we all enjoy. “A little fruity. And it wears a perfume of heady spice. Rich, sensual, and a little fleshy. I find notes of tobacco and dark chocolate. Very likeable, grows on you. 96 points.”
If it’s a Pinot Noir, think of your spouse. “Sensual, smooth, elegant, and soft. This is all about texture and finesse. Very refined and delicate.”
And if it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon you’re drinking, think of your BFF. “Incredible structure and power. It’s bold and strong, like a pillar. Supple, vibrant and energetic. An ample wine, indeed.”
So yes, a bottle of wine can in fact resemble someone you know and live with. I now proclaim you a wine expert. Go forth, and capture the world’s attention.