Misleading, misrepresentation or just plain laziness?

I’d love to start a little debate on people’s thoughts on this scenario and undersatnd how wine lovers feel about it in general:
At the beginning of the weekend, I saw an instagram ““story” from a wine store in my wider area asking people to come and buy this wine:
Kooyong Clonale Mornington Peninsula Chardonnay 2019 (thewinesociety.com)
The wine was described on the post (and I quote) as " Buttery and creamy” with lots of citrus fruit.
For someone who has drank this wine a fair amount over the past few years and vintages, it really is not a description I would use to describe it.
For a start it doesn’t go through malo, and is not reminiscent of a big Napa Chardonnay.
I last drank this about 3 weeks ago and descriptors like “elegant, textural and precise” would be more the terminology I would use.

So, my question is, is this type of sell through on ANY wine ethical if a merchant is selling it on aspects it doesn’t possess, when does it become “misrepresentation”? and how would you feel if you purchased a wine on an incorrect tasting note?
Opinions welcome


I would think “oh, no, I’ve fallen for it again”.

I now do my best to ignore published TNs when purchasing, whether from the merchant or not. Especially when aromas are described. Verbal comments from friends are slightly different, as that is often part of a discussion.

It’s not necessarily that the TNs are “incorrect”, but tastes differ. This was highlighted for me when I used to read World of Fine Wine regularly, and the TNs of respected tasters of the same wine (the same bottle, I believe) were often so different.


Some member reviews on the TWS website show a marked variation on the perceived sweetness of a wine - particularly Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris - when compared to the TWS scale of 1-9. If something as fundamental as that can cause division, there’s plenty of room for debate about other factors.

Shame that not all other retailers have the equivalent of the Wine Society Promise.


I agree with @SteveSlatcher

As an aside, If I want to buy a wine of which I have no experience I firstly have a look at the maker’s website, read their own information about their wines, then I try and find a spec sheet for the wine. If I cannot find any technical information that helps me get a very broad indication of the wine’s structure then depending on price I might just take a punt.


Pretty much what I do aswell.

I do get that people have difficulty with sugar levels and can often confuse it with fruit aromatics, I think that’s pretty common.
I would hate to be sold a wine based on a promise that wasn’t true so yes, the society’s promise is a really good thing.

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Simply put - ignore any third-party TNs. They are invariably meaningless twaddle.

and as an aside - having visited Kooyong and tasted this wine - I would know very well it wasn’t creamy and buttery… !

But with a bit of “toasty” oak along with buttery flavours, all you need is a bit of marmalade and you have the ideal breakfast wine.


Sweetness is the human perception of sugar. The most common area of sweetness perception is in sparking wines and the “brut” label. Sugar added at dosage (usually cane and not beet) is designed to balance out acidity, but underlying that, is the point that there is a bit of a spectrum. At very low levels sugar does enhance fruit flavour, rather like when making an apple sauce that tastes very tart, a small amount of added sugar enhances the apple flavour. Then there comes a point when the increased amount of sugar at dosage starts to make the wine have a trace of sweetness. But we all perceive that point at different levels. I suspect that the range of perceived sweetness starts around the 4-8 g/l. But it will depend on grape variety.

I find a similar issue with red wines, especially ones bought from supermarkets but not exclusively so. Typically a medium-bodied red with distinct red fruit profile is described as ‘full bodied with rich, dark fruit’.

I think I commented on it somewhere before, but I wonder if such misrepresentations are to do with fearing to challenge public perception and so miss a sale. Many wine drinkers equate reds with full body/ripe fruit etc, especially on the cheaper end of things, so the retailer remains safe in their description. It’s all subjective after all, innit? :slight_smile:

I wonder if something similar happened here? Look! An Australian Chardonnay! - must be ‘buttery and creamy’. I wonder who is writing the note in this specific case? the merchant themselves? So many tasting notes online seem to be a copy and paste job, maybe here too?

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I like a bit of “bacon fat” too…

your point about cheaper red wines and fruit is interesting. Most cheaper end reds in supermarkets are almost always low tannin. So with less astringency and the drying sensation of tannins, (plus the probability of carbonic maceration), the absence of those balancing factors may result in ripe, and sweeter, fruit having more prominence (hence that ghastly expression “fruit driven”)

I have NO problem understanding sweetness in wine, my point was and is, that NON experienced wine drinkers often comment on a wine being “sweet” for example an aromatic NZ Sauvignon blanc or a dry Gewurtztraminer . They confuse the perception of fruit with sugar content and in fact more often than not won’t recognise the higher gl/l in mass produced red wine believing it to be “smooth”.

It’s a relatively new store, owned and run by a former professional sports player, I don’t know what if any professional wine education they have had.
But, you are more than likely correct, it’s been assumed or copy and pasted .

By the way, this is a really lovely wine, if anyone hasn’t tasted it yet and not a bit buttery :rofl:.


It’s easy to say here amongst a group of eh-hem aficionados to ignore the tasting note.

If you’re not such an aficionados (or even if you are!) you do need something to go off to work out if you’ll actually enjoy this wine or not. A note that’s not accurate (e.g. buttery and creamy for a razor sharp, minerally - to use the archtype describing a Mearsault when it’s Chablis in style) is not going to help anyone work out if they like a wine at all, and if/when they don’t it’s not going to give them confidence to buy more wine from that provider.

So in answer to your question, for me, whatever the underlying cause, it’s bad business sense. You need your customers to trust what your notes say so that they’ll trust you with other notes/recommendations (and in the case of a local indie, use you over supermarket/chain/large online merchant).


Does someone who adds two spoons of sugar to their tea/coffee, eats Krispy Kremes/doughnuts/cakes, and who snacks on biscuits and candies have the same perception of sweetness in wine as a person who drinks tea/coffee unsweetened and doesn’t eat sweet things?

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I must admit I do agree - there are limits to how a wine should be misrepresented, and extreme cases are bad for the cutomer, and ultimately for the business too.

That said, the way I prefer to find out if I like a wine is to taste it first - at a tasting, or served at a friend’s house for example. And failing that, I would buy a single bottle to minimise my losses if it turns out not to be to my taste.


Are you referring to the WS note? If so, it’s not the one @Leah referred to - that one was on an instgram post; I think she used the WS link just to show what wine was discussed.

Misleading, misrepresentation or just plain laziness?

And there was I thinking this was a topical political comment! :smiley:

I will get my own coat.


I must pay more attention to reading posts carefully :frowning:

I thought it best simply to delete my post to avoid confusion.

I wonder now if the insta-note was based on the wine’s Vivino entry, which could be based on a misinterpretation of user reviews


I have no idea who “non experienced wine drinkers” are still less how they state their opinions.
I make no presumptions around large groups of people and their taste experiences.
I therefore have no idea as to their drinking habits (beyond price ) and how they may or may not experience wine.

Outside of wine, human beings can often ascribe sweetness to flavours associated with sweets/pastries/desserts etc that have no sugar whatsoever. This is common with vanilla, and sometimes with mint. I suspect the same will be true of wine, even for those of us who like to think we know what we’re doing. The presence or otherwise of sugar isn’t a cut-and-dried solution as to whether the (highly fallible) taste buds will perceive sweetness.