As a teetotaller I don’t know about wines, but I’m puzzled. There is a young man who talks about wines on the radio every evening, just for a few minutes. He speaks about a certain wine with a flavour of guavas, or peaches, the smell of the oak vats and strawberries, etc. Isn't this something similar to the recent column about apples being flavoured to taste like grapes? If I want the flavour of guavas, I’ll eat a guava. If I want to taste peaches, I’ll eat a peach. Am I being terribly naive, or just a bit dim?
Whole books have been written about the strange things wine tasters say when they try to describe wine, so you’re by no means alone. The question is one which puzzles plenty of others. The difficulty facing all wine writers is how to describe flavours and aromas accurately. You can’t. Could you, for example, describe what a potato tastes like? So when writers want to tell others what a certain wine is like they have to describe it as ‘tastes a bit like ... whatever’. Of course it doesn’t really taste like a guava or a pineapple, but there’s something about the flavour that reminds the writer of that fruit. When you taste a great number of wines, you start to expect certain flavours from certain grape varieties. We describe the flavour of a good Merlot, for example, as ‘coffee’ or ‘chocolate’. Sauvignon Blanc sometimes reminds us of green peppers or cut grass. It’s the closest we can get to describing the flavour, and we know it’s not accurate. If you can find a good way to describe a potato’s flavour, please let us know.