Dinosaur wine tasting

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The current Dinosaur Comics:

Mouseover title: "my wine-tasting tip is to pair adjectives that you wouldn't apply to an inanimate liquid with the word 'yet' between them, as in 'gracious yet stern' or 'complex yet flirtatious' or 'soulful yet bright, even mountainous'"

Some previous wine-language posts:

"The legal treatment of quantifiers", 1/11/2004
"Just a trace of the obligatory rubber", 4/9/2004
"Ritual verbal enthusiasm for food", 5/11/2004
"More winetalk imports into coffee lingo", 5/24/2004
"Apologia pro risu suo", 6/2/2004
"More on winetalk culture", 6/2/2004
"What do wine tasting notes communicate?", 6/5/2004
"Two brews", 2/7/2010
"X forward", 3/12/2010
"…with just a hint of Naive Bayes in the nose", 2/23/2011
"Evaluative words for wines", 4/7/2012
"Leesy", 4/12/2012
"The quality of quantity", 2/24/2012

Ryan North's "X yet Y" insight is new, at least to me.



  1. Philip Taylor said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 12:27 pm

    Is "old grapes" <Am.E> for <Br.E> "sour grapes" ?

  2. Catanea said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 1:24 pm

    Is there red chardonnay?

    [(myl) No, unless you add food coloring, as was done in this study, discussed here…]

  3. Bob Ladd said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 1:46 pm

    @Philip Taylor: No.

  4. Laura Morland said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 5:29 pm

    @ Philip Taylor,

    No, but you're right on target, in that the smaller dinosaur is clearly referring to an event in the past after which T-Rex did NOT stay to help clean up.

    We are, therefore, indeed meant to interpret T-Rex's "old grapes" as "sour grapes." However, T-Rex's diction is confined to that which would be acceptable in wine-tasting circles; thus "old grapes."

  5. cameron said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 5:57 pm

    It's logarithmic, yet scolopendrine

  6. Jerry Friedman said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 6:49 pm

    Philip Taylor: I think the point is that "old grapes" is the most obvious, least fanciful description of the flavor of wine. As humor, it's feldspathic, yet acatalectic (in the pileated sense).

  7. john burke said,

    September 16, 2021 @ 10:55 pm

    The James Thurber cartoon caption bears a structural resemblance: "It's a naïve little domestic Burgundy without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption." Does this formula lend the almost arbitrary character of the first descriptor an air of plausibility by introducing the second with a qualifying "but" clause?

  8. Alon Lischinsky said,

    September 17, 2021 @ 1:48 pm

    @Catanea: “Is there red chardonnay?”

    Chardonnay is a white variety, but there's an extraordinarily rare pink mutation cultivated in Marsannay-la-Côte, in southern Burgundy.

  9. Aardvark Cheeselog said,

    September 17, 2021 @ 3:50 pm

    Now do puer tea tasting notes.

  10. Phil H said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 1:42 am

    I feel like there should be a formally recognisable linguistic link when you pair your random adjectives:
    It's orgiastic yet organized
    It's ambivalent yet ambitious
    It's iambic yet iatric?

    Do people still do pretentious wine tasting any more? I thought it got mocked to death as a practice about ten years ago. I sometime read wine critics being very straightforward these days. ("good table wine"; "best red you can get for less than $10"; etc.)

    [(myl) From Wine Spectator's 2020 #1 rating:

    The 2010 vintage is Rioja’s best so far this century. Rich yet harmonious, this wine should drink well for decades.

    Maturing well, this round red is a lovely example of the traditional style. Orange peel, dried cherry, forest floor, vanilla and black tea flavors mingle harmoniously over round tannins and citrusy acidity. Generous but gentle, lively, balanced and harmonious.

    From the #2 2020 choice:

    Powerful and structured, with minerally richness to the fine-edged red fruit and savory spice flavors. The sleek finish offers impressive purity and clarity to the notes of hot stone, flint and underbrush.

    And the #3 choice:

    Effusive aromas of black currant, blueberry, violet and iron mark this expressive red. Supple and harmonious, with a firm backbone of tannins that are refined and integrated. Shows terrific length and complexity.

    So the anglophone winetalk tradition seems lively enough…


  11. Philip Taylor said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 5:57 am

    "Hot stone, flint, underbrush and forest floor" — are they insane ? With some of their metaphors I can feel some empathy (blackcurrant, orange peel, dried cherry, even perhaps black tea) but so many of the others are just out of cloud-cuckoo land …

    I won't say the following is totally realistic, but at least I can relate to what the taster is saying — LL readers are invited to identify the wine and vintage without doing a web search !

    The 2005 vintage is a deep blood red colour with smoky, spicy notes and elements of black fruit and cigar box – an
    impressive combination. The palate is well structured with rich fruit components including cherry, blackcurrant and
    prune with a hint of dark chocolate and black tea leaves. The finish is long and fine with velvety tannins.

  12. Jerry Friedman said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 8:43 am

    Philip Taylor: I'm no expert, but I don't think those are supposed to be metaphors. The taster is saying they literally detect those smells in tiny amounts (so tiny they'd make no difference to me, for one). For all I know, the complex processes of fermentation and aging could create chemicals with those smells. "Fine" and "velvety" are metaphors, and maybe "notes" and "well structured".

    For other wine ignoramuses, this site defines "structure", though it doesn't answer every question I had.

  13. Jerry Friedman said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 8:44 am

    I'm not saying that another taster would detect the same smells, by the way.

  14. Philip Taylor said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 11:00 am

    I think that in some cases you are correct, Jerry (cherry, blackcurrant and
    prune with a hint of dark chocolate and black tea leaves, for example); and in other cases they are similes. But in the case of "Hot stone, flint, underbrush and forest floor", I can really think of them only as metaphors — has any Master of Wine really tasted any of the last four, and is therefore in a position to describe wines in terms of their tastes ?

  15. Doug said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 2:14 pm

    Dave McIntyre at the Washington post describes some of the criticism he got from readers after he described a wine as having “the mineral character that suggests crushed stones, along with apricots and red currants and a long, focused finish.”


    One reader wondered whether crushed stones actually taste any different from uncrushed stones.

  16. Jerry Friedman said,

    September 19, 2021 @ 2:41 pm

    Philip Taylor: Those are smells, not tastes. (There are only five tastes: sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and umami. All other flavors are odors.) You can know what the forest floor smells like if you've walked in a forest. Underbrush is probably harder to smell, but the Wine Spectator critic thinks they know what it smells like.

  17. Andreas Johansson said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 12:53 am

    Acc'd a study I saw, there's reasonably good agreement between how different wine connoisseurs describe wines – but rather less between the words used and the actual tastes/smells of the normal referents of those words.

    So if a wine snob says a wine tastes of blackcurrant, another wine snob is likely to understand what the first one means, but it doesn't necessarily smell anything like actual blackcurrants.

  18. David Marjanović said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 4:37 am

    but rather less between the words used and the actual tastes/smells of the normal referents of those words.

    That goes far beyond professional wine-tasting, BTW.

    I don't drink alcohol. It stinks, in higher concentrations it burns, I don't like the flavors that come with it either, etc. etc.. So… once I went to Poland. Ooh, they said. I have to try malinówka (a raspberry distillate) then, they said. It doesn't taste or smell of alcohol, they said. It's sweet, they said. One or two added they hadn't liked alcohol before they tried malinówka. OK, OK, so I tried it. To my great surprise, it really doesn't taste or smell of alcohol (or of raspberries). But it's not sweet either. It's just vaguely bitter.

    That is sweet alcohol, I was told: that's what's called "sweet" when it's alcohol.

    I see no point in drinking malinówka. :-)

  19. Philip Taylor said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 8:00 am

    I have no experience of malinówka, David, although I have spent considerable time (drinking) in Poland, but four sweet alcoholic drinks which I can heartily recommend are Château Dereszla Aszú 6 Puttonyos (2007), Gramps Botrytis Semillon (2011), Muscat de Saint-Jean de Minverois, Domaine les Tailhades (2012) and Domaine de Leyrissat Monbazillac (2017).

    Afforded an honourable mention are Czech broskev (peach) vodka. and Patrón XO Cafe Tequila.

  20. Jerry Friedman said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 8:25 am

    Andreas Johansson: Thanks, maybe those terms are more metaphorical, or something, than I thought.

  21. stephen said,

    September 20, 2021 @ 12:36 pm

    I have wondered why people don't talk about vodka snobs, or other beverage snobs. Why aren't there vodka tasting parties?

    So I went to google…

    wine snob 8.3 million google hits
    wine tasting party 167 million hits

    vodka snob 13.7 million
    vodka tasting party 13.9 million

    whiskey snob 8 million
    whiskey tasting party 13.2 million

    beer snob 9.66 million
    There's a bar in Jamestown, NY called The Beer Snob.
    And another bar in Hartland, WI called Beer Snobs Ale and Eats.

    beer tasting party 55.6 million

    brandy snob 8.78 million
    brandy tasting party 8.71 million

    schnapps snob 831,000 hits
    schnapps tasting party 9.76 million hits, but many of those have to do with beer, wine, vodka, and other beverages. The fourth one listed is for a whiskey-tasting party at the hgtv website.

    ale snob 7.78 million
    ale tasting party 11.5 million

    mead snob 10.6 million
    mead tasting party 8.34 million

    cider snob 12.6 million
    cider tasting party 12.6 million

    tequila snob 8.03 million
    tequila tasting party 11.1 million

    gin snob 7.86 million hits
    gin tasting party 12.5 million

  22. Morten Jonsson said,

    September 21, 2021 @ 6:33 pm


    You should be limiting your search by putting quotation marks around your terms. Otherwise you're bringing up every page that happens to have all of the words in the search. For example, "schnapps snob" gets only 14 results, not 831,000, and most of them are randomly generated text trolling for hits. And "vodka snob" gets 10,300, compared to 649,000 for "wine snob." That's still enough to qualify as a real thing, I guess.

  23. Victor Mair said,

    September 23, 2021 @ 11:24 pm

    To all the other wines mentioned above, we now have to add "Magical Penis Wine" (9/23/21).

    As for sweet, fruity alcoholic beverages, the schnapps of my father's hometown of Pfaffenhofen, Austria is like a fruit brandy and doesn't have an alcoholic taste, but if you drink too much of it, you will get thoroughly soused.

    At community gatherings, Mädchen with little barrels of schnapps hanging from their neck will work the room plying guests with one small glass after another of the seductive drink, making everyone merrily tipsy.

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