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Common Wine Clichés


Emile Joubert at Wine Goggle casts his jaundiced eye over six common wine phrases -

  • Optimal ripeness
  • Hand-harvested
  • Minerality
  • Hand-crafted
  • Food-friendly
  • Minimum-intervention winemaking

do you agree with his conclusions?

Read there here


I have a theory that with some ‘premium’ foods (e.g. the posher sandwiches in a supermarket) that you just pay for the extra adjectives and adverbs.

E.g. “oven-roasted” - I mean, you are hardly going to roast something in a sock drawer or a shoe box…


“Natural” as in - wine that’s bottled in clear bottles (so as to maximise the possibility of those lovely sewegey flavours due to light-strike), with a lovely label, done with ‘minimum intervention’ so still has twigs floating in it, and sold to you, by a nice bearded chap, who’s almost hidden his cut-glass public school accent, wearing very tight jeans, for more than a premier cru Volnay…


‘Smart’ - meaningless.

Type the word into the WS website for plenty of examples like:

‘a smart pear and gooseberry-tinged Loire sauvignon blanc…’

and - even worse, ‘seriously smart sparkling wine from a flagship English winery…’


At some point in the nineties, “Pan Roasted” became a thing. As far as I can tell, it’s basically a synonym for “Fried”.


Hand-harvested is not a cliche, just a description of the way the grapes have been handled during harvest. Everyone is free to decide whether this is a positive or negative for them. The rest is about right… :slight_smile:


Or possibly “pan-fried”?

Spit roasting is properly distinct from “oven roasting”.


“Food-friendly” - it may get overused, but some wines have a wider range of dishes they work with than others. A few are better drunk by themselves (thinking mainly of sweet wines).

“Minimal Intervention” - he makes a good point, that winemaking is inherently an interventionist process. But equally, there are a range of processes that are optional, and using the smallest number makes it minimal. Sometimes too minimal, and you end up with @Grimpeur’s natural sewage.


On the article, I think it’s complete rubbish and I’m sorry I wasted my time on it. It’s a complete mixture of pure marketing guff that’s never really used in other contexts (optimal ripeness, hand-crafted), together with terms that are a short-hand for something that’s either complicated (“minimal intervention”) or difficult to describe because of the “dancing about architecture” problem (“minerality”). And hand-harvested is at least somewhat precise.

I don’t agree that he has conclusions.


ah…chef friend very vocal on ‘pan roasted’ at a party - it is where something is put in the oven to roast in the pan it was sautéed / sealed in…keeps all the flavours apparently…its not just sautéed :wink:


For those who don’t follow trade tweets, a rather nice appellation controllée joke:

rémy anne


· 19h

it’s not actually a coup unless it comes from the coup d’état region of france, otherwise it’s just a sparkling authoritarian takeover


But shouldn’t that just be the “état” region, not the “coup d’état” region?

Sorry, I’ll sneak off back to pedant’s pedants’ pedants corner my hole.


Back in the 80’s there was a wine bar in Guildford that had on its list a wine “from the Mousseux region in France”
Presumably a near neighbour.


Don’t get me started


Such-and-such country has the potential to produce stunning….insert grape.

In the last x months I read that Moldova one day will make world-class Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling. In other words, if it is already widely planted it has the potential to be great, and if it is not planted already… it has the potential to be great.


Top – as in enjoying an exalted reputation regardless of real merit.

Top wine, top commentator, top brand, top seller, top banana

1 Like


Takes to an entirely new level – as in something that helps to improve performance a little.

The new vine basket weaving technique being employed by top Santorini producers will take their wines to an entirely new level.

The wine trade loves hierarchies, stratification and pyramids. And new levels.



Icon – Absurdly expensive luxury wine, regardless of merit.

Used in the sense of “I can hardly afford this wine”…

Sassicaia is such a Super Tuscan icon (I haven’t had a bottle in 14 years).


I think pan-roasted is when you start off on the hob then transfer to the oven. I do it for fish and sometimes veg (speeds up butternut squash no end).

Still pretty wanky term though.

Ah yes, just read down a bit


“100 point wine” - Such a rare thing. Only 90% of our wines get this totally-not-marketing term.

And in tiny letters:
*The 100 points were from Toby Wears-Red-Trousers, our Marketing Intern, not Jancis Robinson.


TBH, it appears he’s just got out of bed on the wrong side and can’t think of anything worth while to talk about so decided to have a moan about basically “nothing”!
Lockdown does strange things to people :sweat_smile:.
I can’t believe I wasted 2 minutes of my life on that !