February 21, 2011

Wine/Life Balance

    A wine with a well-balanced nose.
I was doing a book signing at a winery one afternoon when the owner came over to me to introduce me to a friend who had stopped by. Naturally we soon began to discuss the wines, and the guest asked me if I could recommend anything. I asked her if she liked riesling. She said yes, then turned to the owner and asked him what his riesling was like. He said it was “harmonious and well balanced”. I could see from the look on the woman’s face that this was not the sort of answer she was looking for. So I said “It’s really yummy.” With a broad smile she headed off to the tasting room with the winery owner in tow.

Harmonious is one of those wine words that gets used a lot but fails to convey any real information. As well, ‘harmonious and well balanced’ is redundant, since harmonious means well balanced! A wine can in fact be harmonious but not very good, or perhaps not even enjoyable. Balance and harmony are good, but are they a useful description of what we find in the bottle?

If we set the bar a bit higher, the situation worsens. According to the Oxford Canadian Dictionary, harmonious means “forming a pleasing or consistent whole.” Would anyone rush out to buy a wine that was described as ‘consistent’?

I prefer to write this one off as bafflegab and suggest instead that we look for more meaningful terms -- terms that will give people a sense of what the wine is actually like, words such as ‘yummy’ for example.

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