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Confusing wine descriptions makes critics look good but doesn't help the drinker

Wine retailer Laithwaite's has conducted some research to pick out the words and phrases that consumers find most and least useful when describing wine. Of those polled 55% felt that many of the descriptions did not help them understand the taste.

Forty-three tasting notes from leading wine brands and critics were presented to the test group, which in turn was asked to pick the terms it found the most and least helpful. “Fresh” was regarded as the most useful word along with “zesty” and “peachy”.

But “firm skeleton” was judged the most useless, with “old bones” and nervy not far behind.

Other less-than-helpful terms included: “wet stone”; “tongue spanking” ; “haunting”; “spring hedgerows” and “brooding” as well as “vegetal”, “leathery”, “chunky” and the word of the moment “minerality”. There has been increasing discussion of this term used when describing terroir but Sally Easton MW explained that actual mineral elements in wine are not only minimal but also tasteless.