Developing descriptors for the major varietals

By Kori ~ April 21st, 2008.

“If you can’t describe it in words or talk about it, like ‘It reminds me of gym socks or my mother’s blackberry pie,’ you can’t remember it.” –Karen MacNeil

It’s a good idea to come up with a good buzzword, or descriptor, for each varietal of wine you drink. Obviously, there will be specific descriptors for each bottle of wine you drink within a varietal. But having a few buzzwords that are easy to remember help you know what to expect when you get ready to open a bottle at home, pick one off the shelf at a wine shop, or order in a restaurant.

Here are just a few of our buzzwords for the most popular varietals:

Cabernet Sauvignon—blackcurrant or cassis, intense, earthy (Old World)
Shiraz/Syrah—peppery, blackberry, bold
Merlot—plummy, smooth
Zinfandel—hot, spicy
Pinot Noir—raspberry, perfumed

Chardonnay—buttery, oaky
Sauvignon Blanc—crisp, grapefruity
Riesling—fruity, floral, citrus, sweet

What is your favorite varietal and what buzzword or descriptor would you use to describe it?

Filed under: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, General Wine Information, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz/Syrah, Zinfandel

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