05 July 2023 Copy actual URL Facebook share Twitter share

Wine can and should be talked about without using fancy terms

A recent article on wine in the Economist, one of the most widely read international news portals, captured in part why the lay wine consumer may feel insecure when encountering wine, and why they may be hesitant when asked about the wine they are tasting. According to the article's author, the reasons lie in the words. In fact, there is much more to it than that, since any interaction with wine – apart from downing it – is typically a gesture or expression that is not obvious at first.

It is certainly not a Hungarian phenomenon that for many, the first acquaintance with wine can be a mixed experience besides the infinitely pleasant feelings of discovery, travel and novelty. Whether it is a wine festival, a visit to a winery or a wine dinner in a restaurant, there inevitably comes a time when the consumer new to the world of wine must grab that glass. On the one hand, it is natural to be unsure of whether you are holding the glass correctly (by the stem or the base), to have little success at first in swirling the wine in the glass, to not know how to observe and smell the wine, let alone how to swirl it in your mouth. And those who drive or cannot drink alcohol for whatever reason most often do not even attempt to join in by using a spittoon. Yet tasting wine without swallowing is a complete tasting experience, spitting wine is a natural part of exploratory wine tasting and can also be practised so that you don't have to worry about the white tablecloth - and your image.

 

 

But back to words and their often discouraging effect. The author of the article cites some of the strange expressions that often come out of the mouths of wine professionals, such as “sweaty saddle” or “saline clam broth”. In Hungary, the latter is seldom used, but “sweaty saddle” and, for that matter, “horse stable”, “animal” as well as many other adjectives are not uncommon. While winemakers often get enthusiastic when a more wine-savvy guest comes to the house, they are also quick to see through when an unnecessary “gunflint” or “steely” is uttered when giving an opinion. The charm of wine is that it is worth tasting and talking about, whatever your level of expertise. Winemakers - if you have the pleasure of tasting the wine with them - are usually happy with the simplest, most honest appreciative reactions.

This attitude does not exclude learning, over time, the many terms that describe a wine, asking the winemaker if you are unsure. And as for questions, why not get away from describing the wine itself and asking what kind of food it is recommended with, how fussy the variety is, i.e. how difficult it is to work with, or what inspired the wine's label?

 

 

The more you taste in a place where you might be able to talk about wine, the more naturally you will not only ask the winemaker questions, but also form opinions. At the same time, the process of swirling the wine in the glass will gradually develop (start by placing the glass on the table, writing down small circles, feeling the momentum of the wine). Then you realise that swirling the wine in your mouth is not rocket science (to put it simply: rinse your mouth with it to get the aromas everywhere and only then swallow or spit it out), and finally all the other movements will become part of your tasting repertoire.

 

 

And if you like the wine and buy more bottles to enjoy at home, it's also worth considering what type and style of wine goes best with what food. To help you with this, visit our pages on grape varieties, which also provide information on the best food pairings for each variety.

Finally, our guide to the art of wine consumption, including how to choose, serve and store wine will also be of help to you.

We wish you a pleasant wine experience!

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