What's useful? A tasting note can be helpful, even if it doesn't criticize the wine. At least it might suggest what to eat with the wine. If you don't like the taste of oak, you can avoid wines that mention "aged 14 months in new oak" on the back label.
What bothers me most, however, is overblown writing. One that turned up in my tasting yesterday said, "This wine enjoyed 20 months of bliss in the finest French oak barriques." Sorry, I don't want a blissful wine. I want it to make me blissful.
Then there's the non sequitur. "The name ———— is ancestrally linked to the Scottish clan ———, noted for their ferocity in times of confrontation and tranquility in times of peace." Let's hope that has nothing to do with the wine. I'm not sure I want ferocity or confrontation from a Shiraz, although some of them certainly suggest it.
Yet another (these are all from one tasting): "Listen and hear a heady rush of rhythm and a passionate beat sounding loudly from the unique vineyards of ————." Am I supposed to drink the wine or put it on my iPod?
Labels that describe the vineyard and summarize the winemaking can explain why the wine is what it is. That's good. I like this next one. It explains the drawing on the front label, and links the vineyard to the wine's character, which it describes succinctly. "———— has been producing premium Washington wines since 1983 in the cellars of the historic ———— depicted on the label. The Wahluke Slope's sandy silty soil, warm, dry temperatures and cool night air result in ripe fruit intensity with high natural acidity. This aromatic (wine) shows spicy floral notes with flavors of fresh fig and apricot on a rich, zesty finish."
That's a good back label, in my opinion. Any nominations for more bad ones?
Jason Fernandez — Boston, MA — January 11, 2008 12:13pm ET
Kirk R Grant — Ellsworth, ME — January 11, 2008 12:43pm ET
Beverages And More #50 — San Diego, Ca — January 11, 2008 2:43pm ET
Yankee Spirits Inc — January 11, 2008 3:35pm ET
Maryann Worobiec — Napa, CA — January 11, 2008 4:38pm ET
Steven Glazer — Orinda — January 12, 2008 1:31am ET
Jim Callen — January 12, 2008 3:49pm ET
Stephen Lima — Wakefield, RI — January 13, 2008 11:15am ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — January 13, 2008 12:11pm ET
Mr Tom A Hughes — Keller, Tx — January 13, 2008 12:36pm ET
John C Winkelmann — Cincinnai — January 13, 2008 1:17pm ET
Forrest Bryant — January 14, 2008 12:45am ET
Kevin Smith — January 14, 2008 11:26am ET
Michael Mintz — Washington DC — January 14, 2008 12:23pm ET
Steve Kirchner — Huntington — January 14, 2008 2:08pm ET
Harvey Steiman — San Francisco, CA — January 14, 2008 2:21pm ET
Alex Glick — Denver, CO — January 14, 2008 6:11pm ET
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