Video: The New Languages of Wine

A seminar of my work on the evolution of wine communications: Where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we should be headed.

On January 21, I joined Kevin Day of Opening A Bottle to present my work on the evolution of wine communications and the urgent need to change the discipline. The video of the session is now available:

A bit of history. Fifty years ago, wine communicators tended to write in broad terms about wine’s character and provenance. In the 1980s, a fashion emerged for highly descriptive tasting notes that relied on metaphor and analogy to convey precise sensory qualities. Wine educational organizations soon codified these approaches into formal lexicons, then required students to memorize them to pass exams. The lexicon got baked into the profession.

These lexicons aren’t without problems. They are in English, based heavily on Eurocentric reference materials (fruits, flowers, dairy, baked goods, and more). When translated they are often simply transliterated rather than being re-cast into regional referents. They’ve been criticized as culturally exclusionary and off-putting especially to those new to wine. “Winespeak” has become so baroque it’s the often brunt of comedy.

Today, many wine communicators (myself included) are working to develop more welcoming and adaptive approaches. In this seminar, I present the backstory along with examples of professionals changing our tactics. And because this was a session for consumers, I also share ideas about how wine lovers can embrace their own flavor memories and cultural references to make their notes feel personally relevant.

This is ongoing work, and there is more to come. I hope you enjoy the video.

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