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C O N T A C T
Wine - a matter of balance

 

 

  

   Wine - a matter of balance

                                                by Prof Alan F Harrison          

 

 

Preamble

Most recent article here and relevant to this one.     All my IWFS articles are here.  The most recent have been posted to this website. note   Following the convention therein established, comment and links additional to the published articles, are in blue text.   

Contents     

Read the text without pictures or additions such as links and notes - here.  The extra material shown elsewhere takes us into the realms of wine terminology in greater depth.  "Descriptors" is a good starting point.  

Article starts here

André Simon here     

Michael Broadbent  here   On breed  here

Guide to Wine here

Wine with Food here

Wiki Wine Descriptors here

World of Food and Wine Internet source here

Prof Adrienne Lehrer in her book ... - here   More here.  Her text from the header graphic is here.  On breed here.

When we stand back ... here

World of Food  - and  -  Guide to Wine here

Article Conclusion here.  Overall Conclusion here.

The books used on this page are  here.

Ruth Binney's IWFS monograph is quoted here and here.  The Taste descriptorss are on the Wine Descriptors page here.  The smell descriptors are here

 

 

                                           

 

 

We progress from one of André  Simon's quotations on wine as a work of art with many facets ( March 2013, p 15), to his more specific thoughts on the wine term balance.   Beginning with Well-balanced - Harmony in all aspects of wine, we will learn more soon.  In the meantime, it would be as well to consider that the two quotations on the seesaw can be differentiated in type.  On the left, the general term harmony is used.  On the right, we gain a different perspective from Prof. Adrienne Lehrer, an Arizonian linguist with an interest in wine.  Two writers, so far, have interpreted the wine term balance  in different ways and we will see other variations.

      The adjective focused  has been placed with sugar and acid for consideration and the terms are intended to be more specific.   They distinguish between words describing wine content and its results.  While the amount of sugar and acid in a wine is measurable, people may agree less precisely when declaring their thoughts on sweetness and acidity.  Thus, wine terms  many of us take for granted may constitute more than meets the eye (or nose and taste buds).      

 

 

 To Contents here

     

Following from "Our Founder's Voice - on wine and food", (March 2013) here, and the harmony quotation above on the left side of the seesaw here, another of André  Simon's interpretation of the term "balance" was in the context of wine being dependent upon balance for its very existence, He said Wine is the living blood of the grape. Wine is harmony; a marvellously complex and well-balanced blend of ever so many different substances in a solution of water and alcohol. (It’s a better quotation for the seesaw but it’s too long.)

Read the quotation in context here

 To Contents here

 

 

 

Michael Broadbent who describes it thus:  Balance - the combination of natural components.  Well-balanced - satisfactory blend of physical components (fruit, alcohol, tannin, acid) and the less tangible elements (breed, character, finesse, etc.).   

Read the quotation in context  here


Some of the quotations  point to the fact that although authors explain the terms they use, the explanations can use others which are often assumed to be understood.   At present we consider the main term balance, and see that “qualifiers” are sometimes used to provide more detail.   

 

 

 

 
 

Wine terminology includes numerous abstract adjectives, examples of which we have seen.  Those used by Adrienne Lehrer in the title graphic were described in 2009  as “New words for balance”.   As before, we need insight into what some of these might mean and  Wines that are integrated are “bound together harmoniously”.    Wines that are focusedhave flavours that integrate.   An Internet source gives - ‘Focused’ in a wine means well defined, flavors and aromas are in place and can be identified.

Read more here.


    
                                                                                                                                                                                


 
    



The world of single words and the more involved descriptions which can be applied to wine is truly vast.  We have heard from two wine experts and a linguist interested in wine.   Our final (Internet) quotation is:
 English doesn't come equipped with terms to describe all the tastes and qualities one looks for in wine. The winetaster tries to grab words as close as possible to the sensations he or she experiences.  … the words are attempts to capture the overall character of the wine or the mood it incites.   

 

         

...   Grab glasses, fill them with wine words and then capture the spirit of the wine.  Readers will determine what specific terms mean in the context of their choice of wine, and thetable-talk which concluded the last article.  Two’s company and, like heads,  two independently-consumed glasses are better than one.  The more, the merrier.  

                                         -o-O-o-


The previous article here concluded with our founder saying 
 “Nobody has the monopoly of good taste ..”  in the context of our table-talk.  It was one of his many themes and André Simon also said we " . . .   must possess a lively sense of appreciation and be guided by good taste. Good taste is nobody's monopoly, and different people may have good taste who have not the same tastes.".   (From his Wine Primer book.  Page 142 just above here.)

Those of us expert enough to make written declarations as to what a wine descriptor means know so well that others equally expert will not have the same tastes.  That varying interpretations arise from the use of the same term is a key enjoyment of others with less expertise exploring wine descriptors.  It's their saving grace! 

The books used on this website page are  here. 
 
     ..




The published article ended at the -o-O-o- symbol.  There now follows a set of other text and links for those who aim to explore the topic in greater depth.  There is more from the experts so far quoted.  There is new material from other books and the Internet.







Another book-source, this time -  Guide to Wine, has less to say -   A balanced wine has its fruitiness, acidity, alcohol and tannin (for reds) in pleasant harmony. Balance may develop with age. 

Read the quotation in context here

Looking further afield, we find the book Wine with Food.  It says  - Wines intended for ageing are made with such constituents (and hence may seem undrinkably sharp and tough when young) so that one day all the parts will come into delicious, drinkable balance. 

Read the quotation in context  here

   

Almost inevitably these days,  Internet material will find its way into many public domain discussions.  Whereas, so far, we have proof in print of expert opinion, use of the Internet doesn’t guarantee such validity.  Wiki Wine Descriptors gives us Balanced  - A wine that incorporates all its main components -  tannins, acid, sweetness, and alcohol  - in a manner where no one single component stands out.   

Read the quotation in context here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 To Contents here

In the World of Food and Wine Internet source, , we glean -  Balanced - same as rounded - said of a wine it means all its elements are in perfect harmony and none stands out. Which elements? We are talking of the relative degree of acidity, alcohol, fruity quality, tannins, sugar, extract, and other characteristics.  Rounded, almost equivalent to balanced , is a wine with all elements in place, complete. Satisfying flavors, no surprises or sudden sharpness.

Read the quotation in context here   

 

 

 To Contents here

 

Adrienne Lehrer has also used the descriptors above the seesaw remaining to be looked at.  They are positive attributes associated with balance  -  integrated, focused, well-defined, formed and assembled.

More in a moment.

Read more here.

 

 To Contents here

 

 

   

When we stand back and look at what went before, we can say that we have the descriptor  -  balance, and qualifiers - tannin, acid, integrated,  undrinkably sharp etc, which are also descriptors.  Time now to consider some of those qualifiers.  Michael Broadbent included tannin and acid.   The latter is an essential natural component which can be detected on the tongue. Acid is not only a preservative but gives a wine its essential 'bite' and provides bouquet. Degrees of acidity vary. Tannin, however  -   dries the roof of the mouth and grips the teeth. It is an essential preservative derived from the grape during fermentation but is broken down and becomes mellow with age. 

Read the quotation in context. Acid here  More concisely stated off the page here.  Tannin here

  

 

 To Contents here

       

The World of Food and Wine Internet source employs the term fruity   -  A fruity wine, with plenty of pleasing fruit flavors, will have certain sweetness and be generally appealing. Particular fruits can be identified: aroma or flavor of apples, berries, citrus, currants, pears, etc.  The Guide to Wine, however qualifies the base descriptor thus  -  Balance may develop with age.

Read the quotation in context here    Fruity more concisely stated off the page here.

 

 

 

          

Descriptor terminology is full of the more abstract adjectives, examples of which we have seen.  Those used by Adrienne Lehrer in the title graphic were described in 2009 as “New words for balance”.  There were also negative words and they are paired with the positive as follows: integrated/disjointed, focused/unfocused, well defined/diffuse, formed/muddled, assembled/ uncoordinated.  note   As before, we need insight into what these might mean and another writer assists Lehrer:  Wines that are integrated are “bound together harmoniously”. note Only one other example can be given here which fortunately helps with two descriptors. 

 

 

 To Contents here

 

 

As we have seen, Broadbent included breed in his interpretation of balance.  Breed - a quality stemming from the wine's parentage (both vineyard and vigneron, the site and soil of the one and the skill of the other).  André Simon had this to say on breed:  The quality of a fine wine which is the most difficult to describe. It concerns the effects of soil, climate and wine-making skill reflected in the fragrance, the bouquet, the body and the after-taste.  Lehrer’s thoughts start with The domain of personality, behaviour, and character contribute a great many words to the wine vocabulary, and perhaps it is in this area that there is the greatest lexical innovation.  … there are terms which apply to breed or class.  Thus a wine can be said to be of noble grapes or have breed.  …  A distinguished wine would fall into this class.

Overall Conclusion  further to the one here.

The matter of balance applies in our choice of descriptors. note Our final (Internet) quotation is:  English doesn't come equipped with terms to describe all the tastes and qualities one looks for in wine. The winetaster tries to grab words as close as possible to the sensations he or she experiences.  … the words are attempts to capture the overall character of the wine or the mood it incites. source  Readers will determine what specific descriptors mean in the context of their choice of wine, and the table-talk which concluded the last article here.  Two’s company and, like heads,  two independently-consumed glasses are better than one.  The more, the merrier.

 

 

 To Contents here

         

Added links take you to the Wine Descriptors page.  

The books used in this article are:

The Art of Good Living - André L Simon. 1951  Michael Joseph, London  more here

A Wine Primer: a text-book for beginners on how to buy, keep and serve wine.

André L Simon    Michael Joseph, 1946 – Fourth impression, 1948    more here


Wine & Conversation, A Lehrer, OUP, 2009, 2nd edition. more here

The Wine Book, Bracken Books, 1988 (Not used in the published article.) on this page here

more here

The Essential Guide to Wine, Robert Joseph, Tesco, 1990,  It is abbreviated to Guide to Wine above.   more here

The Quick and Easy Way to Choosing Wine with Food, K McWhirter & C Metcalfe, 1989, St Michael.  It is abbreviated to Wine with Food above.  more here

 

   

  To Contents here                                                                          

 
   

 

 

 

Here is one of his books as seen in the picture:

The Art of Good Living
André L Simon

A Contribution to the better Understanding of Food and Drink together with a Gastronomic Vocabulary and a Wine Glossary

1951  Michael Joseph, London


The What is Wine? quotation is here.

 


There are people – millions of them – for whom life simply means keeping body and soul together for as long as possible; they eat and they drink when and what they can. But there are others; there are men and women who not only live but enjoy life; who fully appreciate all that is good and beautiful, be it purple moors or the blue sea, beautiful music or beautiful wines. They are not gross materialists; on the contrary; they loathe the greed and intemperance of the glutton; they are blessed with that innate love of harmony which makes us pause and forget our cares when in our soul the echo of Beauty’s call is heard

 35


In all times and among all nations, we find the praises of wine sung by the poets and we find also wine more highly valued as men become more civilized. And how could it be otherwise since Wine is harmony. What tonality, what modulations, what a melody there is for the connoisseur in a glass of brilliant wine, fragrant with the subdued perfume of verbena and violets, as softly it flows upon its downwards and last journey, lightly touching the taste chords of the palate!

Of course, it is quite possible to live – to live a long and virtuous life - without having ever tasted a glass of wine, looked at a picture or heard a note of music, but what a life!


What is Wine?

Wine is the living blood of the grape. Wine is harmony; a marvellously complex and well-balanced blend of ever so many different substances in a solution of water and alcohol.

36


Wine is the living blood of the grape: it possesses life; it is liable to sickness and doomed to death.

38


Wine is purer than either water or milk because no typhoid or other deadly germ can live in wine.

37


Wine requires and repays care, the loving care which is the only care that is intelligent and worthy of so precious a gift.

38


The bulk of the wine made every year from the world’s vineyards is just plain, honest, rough wine; very cheap, not always pleasant, but very wholesome.

Much wine is also made which can justly claim to be both fair and honest as well as moderate in price.

Some wine, in particularly favourable years, is made from a comparatively few world-famous vineyards and may rightly boast to be in a class by itself; such wine is never cheap; it is very fine and there is never enough of it.

37

If any proof were wanted that England long since ceased to be a wine drinking nation, one would only have to turn to English sauces: Apple sauce (sweet), Bread sauce (cloves), Curry sauce, Horseradish sauce, Mint sauce, Onion sauce, all sauces which may be excellent with water, beer or whisky, but not wine.

This paragraph was used to conclude the last article here.

83

Read more herep 36

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Technique of Tasting, M Broadbent, in The Compleat Imbiber 8: an entertainment, C Ray (ed), John Harvey & Sons, 1965, pp 198 - 203

 
Words used to describe bouquet or aroma [– in black]
 
Words to describe taste, flavour and general effect in the mouth [– in blue]
 
[ ..] additional in either black or blue text – the author uses adjectives etc but does not list them
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
Acetic - a distinctly vinegary smell as opposed to mere tartness. The wine will be undrinkable and past repair.
 
Acid –
an essential natural component which can be detected on the tongue. Acid is not only a preservative but gives a wine its essential 'bite' and provides bouquet. Degrees of acidity vary. It is high in Moselle and Saar wines and is responsible for their refreshing qualities. It is low in wines of some of the hotter and more southerly regions such as Algeria, southern Italy and southern Spain.
 
Lack of acidity results in a flabby wine with a watery finish; excess acidity results in a barely drinkable tartness or leads to a completely undrinkable acetification. Youthful acidity tends to mellow in the bottle and the wine is therefore likely to improve with keeping. 
 
There are in fact several types of acid found in wine, some beneficial, others detrimental. The professional expert needs to know the difference but the subject is too complicated to be dealt with here.

  


[acid - mouthwatering acidity & refreshing acidity – see Piquant           
           excess volatile acidity see Pricked]
 
[acidity – see Acid, Green – black & blue entries, Tough, Vigorous]
 
[acrid smell – see Sulphury]
 
Almond kernels - (or almond paste) probably due to poor handling, bad fining. May well be drinkable, but not good.
 
Austere - severe, undeveloped. Often noticed on young fine wines.
 
Baked - distinct smell of burnt and shrivelled grapes due to excess sun and lack of rainfall.
 
Balance - the combination of natural components. See 'well balanced'. here
 
[big – see Peppery]
 
Bite- a combination of tannin and acid. To be expected in a young wine but unpleasant if found in excess. Should wear off and mellow as the wine matures.
 
Bitter - a sign of ill-health probably due to undesirable acids or metallic contamination (take care though, the remnants of an alkaline toothpaste or the acidity of certain fruits can cause a similar effect).
 
Body - the weight of wine in the mouth due principally to the alcoholic content. This varies with the quality of the wine (and vintage), its style and its origin. It tends to be heavier in the south (e.g. the Rhône) than the north Moselle).
 
[bouquet – see Deep]
 
 
Blackcurrants - the nearest fruit smell to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Particularly noticeable on wines from Margaux and Pauillac.
 
Breed - a quality stemming from the wine's parentage (both vineyard and vigneron, the site and soil of the one and the skill of the other).
 
  


Cedar - characteristic scent of many fine clarets.
 
[charming – see Coarse]
 
[chewable - see Meaty]
 
Clean - absence of foreign odours.
 

Cloying - sweet and heavy. Lacking acidity to make it crisp and interesting.
 
Coarse - rough, of poor parentage and possibly indifferently made. Do not confuse coarseness of character with the rough rawness of a fine but immature young wine.
a light and charming quality.
 
Cooked - a resulting heavy sweet smell from over use of sugar in poor vintages.
 
 
...............
 
Vigorous - lively, healthy and positive flavour associated with youthful development.
 
Volatile – bouquet is the result of volatile acids, esters, and aldehydes. However, an excess of volatile acidity is a danger sign, leading to acetification.
 
[watery finish – see Acid]
 
[watery and inconclusive – see Finish]
 
Well-balanced - satisfactory blend of physical components (fruit, alcohol, tannin, acid) and the less tangible elements (breed, character, finesse, etc.).
 
Woody - a particular aroma derived from the cask. Due to late racking, or contact with a poor quality cask or fresh raw new one, or just too much time in cask before bottling.
 
 
Tannin - tannin dries the roof of the mouth and grips the teeth. It is an essential preservative derived from the grape during fermentation but is broken down and becomes mellow with age. Very noticeable in many young red wines, particularly claret.
 
Tart - a trifle over-acid. Similar to 'piquant' but probably too acid for the average layman. In a young wine it may wear off after further maturing time.
 
Tough - a full bodied wine of overpowering immaturity (not necessarily youthful) probably with an over-high tannin content.
 
[undeveloped – see Austere]
 

Read more here 

Tannin was mentioned here.  

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

THE LANGUAGE OF WINETASTING

 from
 
The Essential Guide to Wine, Robert Joseph, Tesco, 1990, pp 46/47
 
The headings are main descriptors. Bold text in black is original. Additional text in blue highlights subsidiary descriptors.
 
Many of the main descriptors refer to specific wines.
 
The balance quotation is at the end of this box.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Acetic
 
Vinegary - the wine has been got at by bacteria.
 
 
Acidity
 
The essential natural component which gives wine freshness and zing and prevents it from cloying.
 
 
Aggressive
 
Over-tannic or over-acidic.
 
 
Alcoholic
 
Over-alcoholic wine tastes 'hot', burns the palate.
 
 
Almond
 
Bitter almond can announce Tocai from Italy.
 
 
Aniseed
 
Found in red Burgundy and - to a lesser extent - Bordeaux and some Northern Italian whites.
 
 
Apple
 
A smell often found in young white wines, from the Bramley freshness of Vinho Verde, young Loire, Chardonnay and English wines, through the ripe Cox's of more mature white Burgundies, Champagne and some white Bordeaux.Stewed or baked apple can be a sure sign of Riesling. Unripe apple is often a sign that a wine has not undergone its malolactic fermentation.
 
 
Apricot
 
Common in the white Rhônes of Condrieu and Château-Grillet (made from the Viognier grape) and in wine from botrytis-affected grapes.
 
 
Aromatic
 
Often associated with wines from the Gewurztraminer and Muscat.
 
 
Artificial
 
Also Contrived, Confected. Used to describe wines whose taste appears to have been created chemically.
 
 
Attack
 
The quality in a wine which makes you Sit up and take notice.
 
 
Attenuated
 
Thin, drawn out; often associated with tired wines.
 
 
Austere
 
A wine difficult to approach, with fruit not obvious. Wait for the flavour to open out in the mouth.


Backward
 
Not as developed as its age would lead you to expect.
 
 
Bad eggs
 
Presence of hydrogen sulphide, usually a result of faulty cellaring or winemaking.
 
 
Baked
 
Like hot, sunned earth. Common in New World wines.
 
 
Balance
 
A balanced wine has its fruitiness, acidity, alcohol and tannin (for reds) in pleasant harmony. Balance may develop with age.
 
 
Read more here
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

This section comprises an extract from The Quick and Easy Way to Choosing Wine with Food, K McWhirter & C Metcalfe, 1989, St Michael 

 

CHANGES IN FLAVOUR AS WINES MATURE

A wine's flavours and characteristics change with age, sometimes for the better, often for the worse, and this will affect the way that 
wine combines with food. Elderly vintages aren't necessarily better wines than those only one year old. Many wines, especially inexpensive ones, are deliberately made for drinking young, fresh and fruity, and they may taste extremely dull if you hoard them up for a year or two. Finer, more expensive wines generally develop more complex and interesting flavours as they age (spicy, herby, vegetal and honeyed), and various elements of their make-up soften and round out—they become less tough and tannic, less sharply acidic, and more mellowly fruity. Wines intended for ageing are made with more of all of these constituents (and hence may seem undrinkably sharp and tough when young) so that one day all the parts will come into delicious, drinkable balance. Some grape varieties are capable of making wines more suitable for ageing than others: the more expensive Chardonnays, Rieslings, Chenin Blancs, Semillons, Cabernet Sauvignons, PinotNoirs, Merlots and Syrahs are the main ones (see pages 86 to 94 for wines made with these grapes).
 
Any wine you buy at Marks & Spencer will already have gone through this 'ugly duckling' stage, and will be ready for drinking now. Some of the more expensive wines may continue to improve for several years.
 
94


 
 
Read more here 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the Wiki list   

You can read it in its original format here.  Subsidiary descriptors used are not listed in the table above.


Even more descriptors are included an it is a source in which some of them refer to specific wines.   

A-C
  • Accessible A wine that is easy to drink without an overwhelming sense of tanninacidity or extract.
  • Acidic A wine with a noticeable sense of acidity.[2]
  • Aftertaste A term for the taste left on the palate after wine has been swallowed. "Finish" is a synonym.
  • Aggressive A wine with harsh and pronounced flavors. The opposite of a wine described as "smooth" or "soft"
  • Alcoholic A wine that has an out of balanced presence of too much alcohol.
  • Aroma The smell of a wine. The term is generally applied to younger wines, while the term Bouquet is reserved for more aged wines.
  • Astringent An overly tannic white wine.[3]
  • Austere A wine that is dominated by harsh acidity or tannin and is lacking the fruit needed to balance those components.
  • Autolytic Aroma of "yeasty" or acacia-like floweriness commonly associated with wines that have been aged sur lie.
  • Baked A wine with a high alcohol content that gives the perception of stewed or baked fruit flavors. May indicate a wine from grapes that were exposed to the heat of the sun after harvesting.
  • Balanced A wine that incorporates all its main components—tannins, acidsweetness, and alcohol—in a manner where no one single component stands out.
  • Big A wine with intense flavor, or high in alcohol.[5]
  • Biscuity A wine descriptor often associated with Pinot noir dominated-Champagne. It is sense of yeasty or bread dough aroma and flavors.
  • Bite A firm and distinctive perception of tannins or acidity. This can be a positive or negative attribute depending on whether the overall perception of the wine is balanced.
  • Bitter An unpleasant perception of tannins.
  • Blowzy An exaggerated fruity aroma. Commonly associated with lower quality fruity wines.
  • Body The sense of alcohol in the wine and the sense of feeling in the mouth.[3]
  • Bouquet (English pronunciation: /buːˈkeɪ/) The layers of smells and aromas perceived in a wine.[3]
  • Bright When describing the visual appearance of the wine, it refers to high clarity, very low levels of suspended solids. When describing fruit flavors, it refers to noticeable acidity and vivid intensity.
  • Buttery A wine that has gone through malolactic fermentation and has a rich, creamy mouthfeel with flavors reminiscent of butter.

Read more here

 

 

 
 
   

 

The quotation is in this section of the page is further down from the link.


fleshy wine would feel thick, almost solid in texture, when drinking it --due to high concentration of fruit and extract.

Focused
 in a wine means well defined, flavors and aromas are in place and can be identified.

fresh 
 - A wine labeled fresh would leave a crisp, slightly acidic - in a pleasant, refreshing way - impression. Nine out of ten times this term is applied to young white wines with plenty of cheerful fruit flavors and the correct level of acidity.

fruity wine, with plenty of pleasing fruit flavors, will have certain sweetness and be generally appealing. Particular fruits can be identified: aroma or flavor of apples, berries, citrus, currants, pears, etc. [See also - Piercing ]

full
 - A heavy sensation in the mouth is one sign of a wine described as fullI have seen the term grassy often applied to New Zealand wines.
 
Here is the link if more is required - here      Return to above text here.
 
 To Contents here
 

 

On page 35 of Wine & Conversation, the quotation is attributed to "Asher, 1974: 52".  He wrote in the wine journal Gourmet as seen here.

Return to above text here

On page 35 of Wine & Conversation, the quotation is attributed to "Parker 1998: 1403" who wrote "Bordeaux: a Comprehensive Guide".  Third edition is here.  

Return to above text here

 To Contents here

 

On page 35 of Wine & Conversation, Adrienne Lehrer makes the point that balance is a value term and it is part of emphasising the synthesis of the wine components. 

 

On the complexity scale, simple wines are described as one-dimensional and complex  wines as multidimensional.  These terms are value terms as are those involving balance and harmony, a dimension in which there is a set of new expressions.  These new words are connected to the concepts involved in structure and emphasize the synthesis of the wine components. 

 

 

Positive            Negative
---------------------------------
integrated       disjointed
focused            unfocused
well defined    diffuse
formed              muddled
assembled      uncoordinated

 

Figure 3.2   New words for Balance

 

 

Another perspective, albeit very brief, is from The Wine Book, Bracken Books, 1988

 

Balance             
 
Awkward
Harmonious
Unbalanced
Well-Balanced
 
Read that in context here.

 

 

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Balance of descriptors

This is where we came in.

"The two quotations on the balance or seesaw can be differentiated.  On the left, the general descriptor harmony is used.  On the right, adjectival descriptors are more specific.  With more room, others of the nominal type such as acid, alcohol, fruit and sugar could have been added."

In one sentence, we see just three types of wine descriptors.  The last type is limited to the constituents of wine and wine experts, as do so many of us, make full use of them.  Adjectival descriptors, however, are almost uncountable.  Any single declaration on a wine might best be balanced in itself across the two main types, fulcrummed,  perhaps, by a general descriptor.

Within your table talk, it is quite easy to expound on the wine in your glass.  It's more difficult to reach table-agreement on what a pretentious etc wine is.  

Perhaps next time we could tackle something less challenging - seven views of the descriptor lightlight used by seven authors here 

 

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Articles posted to this site as interactive pages:

 

         Moscovites on the Menu - March 2012 here

         
    Musicians on the Menu The series ended in December 2012 
here.

         Our Founder’s Voice - on wine and food March 2013  here   which inspires the present article.

 

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Here is the article as published.  Graphics have been omitted.

We progress from one of André  Simon’s quotations on wine as a work of art with many facets ( March 2013, p 15), to his more specific thoughts on the wine term balance.   Beginning with Well-balanced – Harmony in all aspects of wine, we will learn more soon.  In the meantime, it would be as well to consider that the two quotations on the seesaw can be differentiated in type.  On the left, the general term harmony is used.  On the right, we gain a different perspective from Prof. Adrienne Lehrer, an Arizonian linguist with an interest in wine.  Two writers, so far, have interpreted the wine term balance  in different ways and we will see other variations.

The adjective focused  has been placed with sugar and acid for consideration and the terms are intended to be more specific.   They distinguish between words describing wine content and its results.  While the amount of sugar and acid in a wine is measurable, people may agree less precisely when declaring their thoughts on sweetness and acidity.  Thus, wine terms  many of us take for granted may constitute more than meets the eye (or nose and taste buds).

Following from the harmony quotation above, another of André Simon’s interpretation of the word balance was in the context of wine being dependent upon balance for its very existence, He said Wine is the living blood of the grape. Wine is harmony; a marvellously complex and well-balanced blend of ever so many different substances in a solution of water and alcohol. (It’s a better quotation for the seesaw but it’s too long.)

Michael Broadbent describes it thus:  Balance – the combination of natural components.  Well-balanced – satisfactory blend of physical components (fruit, alcohol, tannin, acid) and the less tangible elements (breed, character, finesse, etc.).   Some of the quotations  point to the fact that although authors explain the terms they use, the explanations can use others which are often assumed to be understood.   At present we consider the main term balance, and see that “qualifiers” are sometimes used to provide more detail.

Wine terminology includes numerous abstract adjectives, examples of which we have seen.  Those used by Adrienne Lehrer in the title graphic were described in 2009  as “New words for balance”.   As before, we need insight into what some of these might mean and  Wines that are integrated are “bound together harmoniously”.    Wines that are focused have flavours that integrate.   An Internet source gives – ‘Focused’ in a wine means well defined, flavors and aromas are in place and can be identified.

The world of single words and the more involved descriptions which can be applied to wine is truly vast.  We have heard from two wine experts and a linguist interested in wine.   Our final (Internet) quotation is:  English doesn’t come equipped with terms to describe all the tastes and qualities one looks for in wine. The winetaster tries to grab words as close as possible to the sensations he or she experiences.  … the words are attempts to capture the overall character of the wine or the mood it incites.

Grab glasses, fill them with wine words and then capture the spirit of the wine.  Readers will determine what specific terms mean in the context of their choice of wine, and the table-talk which concluded the last article.  Two’s company and, like heads,  two independently-consumed glasses are better than one.  The more, the merrier.

     

 
   
                                              
 
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