Study Says No One Understands Wine Lingo

Unsure what wine descriptions actually mean? You're not alone


Do you find wine reviews to be confusing? Are they filled with language that ends up being mumbo jumbo in your head? You're not alone: A U.K. study shows the widespread confusion and "bewilderment" over wine language. 

Online wine retailer Laithwaites Wine executed a poll of 1,000 wine drinkers, and found that more than half of those surveyed were baffled by the terms used to describe wine by wine critics, producers, and and retailers. And the phrases that the participants said to be the most confusing are, well, extremely confusing. The Telegraph reports: "Those found most confusing were the phrases 'firm skeleton' (designated least useful by 37 percent), 'old bones' (35 percent), 'nervy' (31 percent), 'wet stone' (27 percent), 'tongue spanking' (21 percent), 'haunting' (21 percent), 'spring hedgerow'" (19 percent), and 'brooding' (18 percent)." Also on the list of confusing terms: "vegetal," "leathery," "chunky," "canny," and "minerality." (Quite frankly, we don't know if you'd want to be drinking a wine described as a "firm skeleton" or "wet stone," but that's just us.) And two more commonly used terms, "mature" and "young," were also found to be confusing for the participants. 

It shouldn't be much of a surprise that no one really gets wine reviews; as Justin Howard-Sneyd, a consultant for Lathwaites Wine and a master of wine said to the Telegraph, wine tasting is very subjective. Said Howard-Sneyed, "We have probably been guilty ourselves of using overblown language in the past but this is a wakeup call to the whole wine industry to make a change." So don't beat yourself up if you don't understand wine reviews to an exact T: you're not alone.


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