All wine writers face the same problem: how on earth do you describe the stuff? There is the approach rapturous: ‘do I smell roses? Can I detect white truffles? Cedar, lavender, slate and an ebullient dash of lychees …’. There is the approach over-the-top. I once saw a wine plugged at Majestic as having ‘notes of cinnamon and vanilla, with an undertone of Nivea crème’. There are writers who regard – and I am not making this up – ‘cat’s pee’ as a perfectly useful description of an element in a wine’s taste.
Or you can club your readers over the head with science, packing in details about malolactic fermentation and dégorgement. This is a quick way to lose any audience you may have. As wine writer for The Spectator magazine, I often find myself sighing and wondering if it would