Wine lingo can be as esoteric as entertainment industry gab, and it tends to sound twice as pretentious. A “hot” wine is overly alcoholic. The “robe” is the color of a wine. A “varietal” is the kind of grape from which a wine is made. A person who loves wine? Yes, a “wine-o,” but also, technically, an “oenophile.” How do you even pronounce that?
The descriptors that are the most fun personify wine. At a wine tasting you might hear people nod and agree, with a straight face, to a wine description such as “rich and well built, with nice legs, a sexy mouth feel, and a silky back end.”
One of the silliest words I’ve heard used to describe a wine is “drinkable.” Really? Because I assumed this was meant to be poured down the drain. That’s why I’m spending the twenty bucks. My drain needs a wine rinse. Even better is “very drinkable.”
But the term I find to be the most insidiously pretentious is “approachable.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this tossed around in wine shops, in wine magazines, and even on wine bottles. What bothers me about this word in particular is that it is used almost exclusively as a signifier.
And what does it signify? Usually that the person speaking it thinks that the person hearing it has very little knowledge of and therefore pedestrian tastes in wine. Or it’s code for those in the know that a wine is not sublime.
What it means, essentially, is that this wine appeals to the undiscerning masses. It’s uncomplicated, unrefined, fun. Yes, you’ll enjoy it. Everyone does. In other words, “approachable” is a highfalutin way of saying – if I may coin a new wine term – “slutty.” Take it as you may, at least we’ve left the realm of pretense… and at Centralas, there’s no shame in a wine that goes down easy.
– Originally posted August 20, 2007