the verbs of wine

16 02 2008

ResearchBlogging.orgSmell and taste are the yin and yan of winespeak. Alas, nothing eludes language more than describing these two senses. Olfactory and gustatory descriptions require an objective vocabulary and rich imagery. Winespeak lacks the former but excels in the latter. Here’s a sample:

Bursting with vibrant flavors and impressing with its silky texture and fat tannins. Full-bodied, with crushed raspberries and cassis flavors, this is a pleasure to drink from start to finish. Drink now through 2010.

Domaine Tollot-Beaut & Fils
Aloxe Corton Les Vercots 2001

As Cabellero (2007: 2098 ) observes, wine tasting notes typically describe three aspects:

(a) a wine’s color, (b) its smell, metonymically referred to as the wine’s nose, and (c) the impressions of the wine in the taster’s mouth, covering the wine’s flavor(s) and texture and metonymically referred to as the wine’s palate.

In her paper, the author describes verbs of motion (eg. ‘bursting with flavors’) in wine discourse and hypothesizes that their “use is highly determined by the idiosyncrasy of a genre concerned with verbalizing the organoleptic sensations produced by that drink” (p2097-8). Would you like some cheese with that?

Cabellero first illustrates that these organoleptic sensations typically center around perceptions of intensity and persistence, then considers the discourse function of motion verbs in wine tasting notes and concludes by detailing the ‘personifying’, ‘textile’ and ‘explosive’ lexical resources typical of winespeak.

On a related note, I bought sixty bottles of wine yesterday: forty-eight bottles of 2005 Les Romains Merlot, six bottles of 2007 Kloof-en-Dal whites, six bottles of 2006 IGT Valperga Rosso di Puglia, one 2007 Icona Falanghina and one 2006 Cantina di Montalcino Rosso di Montalcino. I will describe them with verbs of money-well-spent.


CABALLERO, R. (2007). Manner-of-motion verbs in wine description. Journal of Pragmatics, 39(12), 2095-2114. DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2007.07.005



One response

24 02 2009
Indexical orders of commoditized identity « Tom Van Hout

[…] of particular social categories. Case in point is the register I have an on/off relationship with: wine talk. Silverstein argues that wine talk is indexically iconic (i.e. bears resemblance to) of yuppoisie […]

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