A foray into wine studies

I feel I understand what may have motivated Maryse Chevriere of freshcutgardenhose to illustrate wine descriptions .

I’m currently reading a treatise of a wine style by a Master of Wine.  I stumbled upon the website Tastingworks.com recently in my very broad stab at researching what I refer to as “my next move”.   I have found myself captivated by this academic and erudite approach to wine.  Yet while her very technical knowledge is incredible and worth a second and even third read, I still have eye crossing moments, as I visualize phrases like :

“…like peeking into a barn filled with bruised golden delicious and razor apples”


“The tannins resemble vibrating cello strings”.

Now, as a former cello student, I know what a vibrating cello string looks like. How does that translate to the 2007 Château Rayas that Lisa Granik MW was referring too? How does that look? How does that taste? Now I want to know.  Lisa Granik’s writing is challenging in a way that I love.  I am fumbling through. An amateur in the most real understanding of the term.   I have made one of my newest Moleskin notebook acquisitions into a messy list of terms to look up. Wine terms, dictionary terms.  I am reading what feels like an academic paper.  One that showcases an immense amount of knowledge and expertise and yet is still engaging. I would love to find a writing style that is somewhere between where I am now and what she does. It is inspiring.

What my reading has reminded me again and again is that truly I am a wine noob.  I begin to read one of Tastingwork’s blogs about Châteauneuf-du-Pape and find myself flummoxed as I try to understand the context. I can’t at first. I’m lost. Wait, all of the times that my friend John referred to this wine I assumed it was the name of a wine. It’s not? There are different CDP’s? Is it a region? No-not exactly. What? What’s an AC? How does that apply- what? What?  Having to relearn what I was reading about before I could go on reading about it- that’s a new one.   I start to think about the assumptions that John had to have made in his references to this wine. And the assumptions that I made while listening to him.   I started to think about the way he refers to wine as an educated professional. Do I talk that way about food to him? And to others? I’m sure that I do.

I know that I do.   You should see my recipe notebooks. Most of the recipes are simply a list of ingredients. Sometimes there are brackets and arrows as the only instruction. Some that have instruction are written in a restaurant shorthand. Sentences like “Whip eggs as to make pate bombe.” or “Temper in eggs (Anglaise).”  Don’t even get me started on Baker’s percentages. Sheesh.

In my most roundabout way I am trying to get to three general points.

One: People who have immersed themselves in a course of study and a community of other people who do the same have a tendency to forget that everyone else might not know what they know. So when someone- like my sommelier friend John, assumes that I know exactly what he’s talking about- I should take that as a compliment. And then feel free to ask questions.  Lots of questions.

Two: When I talk about things that I am immersed in and surrounded by, I should take care not to assume that everyone around me knows what I’m talking about.

Three: Maybe when we are intimidated by a culture or a person, or assume that there is a level of snobbery associated with it that feels unbreachable- that some of that doesn’t necessarily come from a condescending place.

“…The whole part of the restaurant industry that just seems over the top sometimes: can and should include a certain amount of humor.”

Beyond this- there is something else that I LOVE to point out… Wine descriptions, food descriptions, the whole part of the restaurant industry that just seems over the top sometimes; can and should include a certain amount of humor.  There are a lot of things to learn.  Just, don’t forget to laugh. And don’t forget that it’s good to ask questions. It’s great to find something that makes you pull out a dictionary. Or, well, ask the internet.

And if you haven’t seen Maryse’s amazing illustrations on instagram yet, please do. She’s incredibly talented. Just won a James Beard Award in fact.  But more importantly, she has a good sense of humor.

Relevent Links:

Find Lisa Granik’s brilliant writing at Tastingworks

Enjoy Maryse Chevriere on instagram at  freshcutgardenhose

Stop by and see what I’m up to on instagram at amandavertigo






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