Monday, March 17, 2008

The Gift of Gab

Here’s a great topic for St. Patrick’s Day.
An Irishman with the gift of gab can enliven the most banal conversation. In the same way, some wine writers can get pretty colorful with the way they talk about fermented grape juice.
Over at Open Wine Consortium, there’s an ongoing discussion about using terms such as “rustic” to describe wine. Does everyone interpret these terms the same way? And if not, should we avoid using them?
I think there can be poetry in wine description (some writers certainly take poetic license), and I’d hate to see wine writing boiled down to the beverage’s most basic characteristics, i.e. acidity, tannins etc. However, I’ve worked in communications my entire life, and I know it’s essential not to leave the reader behind when your copy takes a flight of fancy. So, if writers get creative with wine descriptions, they should ask themselves, “Am I effectively communicating my meaning?” If the stylized writing conveys something about the wine that would be hard to describe otherwise, then it works. I say, “Long live poetic wine descriptions (when used by skillful writers)!”

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