Minerality, Science and Winespeak

the drinks business is reporting


In an article written by Sally Easton MW in db‘s April issue, she highlights research to show that it’s impossible to get minerality in a wine directly from the nutrients in the ground.

This news came to my attention via Twitter in breathless ALLCAPS. In recent years this has been a somewhat contentious issue, with scientists trying to debunk (or bunk, I suppose) the idea of “minerality” in wine.

I really don’t get why this is supposed to be surprising. Nobody thinks that a wine with chocolate notes comes from soil with chocolate in it. Or all those petrol-aromaed Rieslings are from vineyards near gas stations. The words we use to describe wine are just poor approximations of the experience of tasting a wine, not ingredient lists.

I’m reminded of this quote from Jonathan Nossiter in his book, Liquid Memory: Why Wine Matters:

But maybe, at the end of the day, we should be happy that most wine talk is so ridiculous. In a world that is oversaturated with overdetermined meaning, there’s something decidedly cheering about this mischievous drink that resists plausible description.

2 comments to Minerality, Science and Winespeak

  • Bernard Klem

    Good job! It’s amazing how much nonsense there is in wine writing. Why just last week I thought that the wine I was drinking came from grapes grown inside a sweaty saddle buried in the ground. Oh, well….

  • Jim/VINEgeek

    That sounds like an interesting wine! I don’t really object to the sometimes-ridiculous but evocative descriptions of wine … I just think we should accept it for what it is: an attempt to convey something about the subjective experience of an enigmatic beverage.

    Thanks for the comment, Bernard.

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