Plonk … written by plonkers

I HAVE a bottle of red wine before me.

It smells (says the label) of raspberry, mint, cassis and herbs. It’s fruit driven and youthfully vibrant.

I tasted it. Buried my nose in the glass, took a swig and swilled it round my mouth, like I’ve seen them do at wine tastings.

Grapes. It tasted of grapes and alcohol, and it smelled of… well, red wine.

Maybe I have no sensitivity. Maybe I am, at heart, a mere philistine in the marvellous world of fine wines (or even of quite ordinary plonk).

Or just maybe they’re having us on.

What about this one: aromas of fleshy black cherry, spices and cracked black pepper, then evolving savoury notes of wood smoke, wild game and earth.

Earth? Wood smoke? Is this a camping holiday, or a drink!

I am assuming this description was invented after one taste, or maybe a whole glass… but it’s possible — even probable! — that they’d knocked off a case of the stuff before they began.

I have been through more than 100 of these labels. Not one of them mentions grapes!

Most of them sound as if they were fermented in delicatessen-cum-veggie shop.

You and I could write this stuff. If you doubt it, try this experiment: stand blindfold in the middle of your local greengrocer’s shop and blunder at will into, say, half a dozen different fruits and vegetables. If one of them is grapes, ignore it.

Then make a list of the principle wine words in vogue this year. It should include: aroma, fragrance, blend, hint, character, palate, overtone, subtle, flavour, elegant and (I am not making this up) nose.

Then you just pick four of them with a pin and marinade them lightly in your random choice of fruit and veggies.

You end with something like: “An egg-plant character, with overtones of banana, celery and sweet potato, subtly blended with the fragrance of tomatoes and a mung bean nose.”

For a really professional touch you could add: “Drink as an accompaniment to a roulade of sago and diced truffles.”

I think it’s called hedging your bets. Why sell wine only to people who like grapes, when you can sell it to people who are hooked also on chocolates, banana, or wild game?

It’s nonsense, of course. And people who take this stuff seriously should be shot.

Personally I like a glass of wine. And there are two kinds, besides red and white, or sparkling and still. There are the drinkable ones and the undrinkable ones. And I don’t care if it’s a blend of honey and cocoa, or has an elegant finish with overtones of wild orgies; if it tastes like vinegar, I don’t want it.

Why don’t the wine-label writers just save themselves a lot of time and label every bottle… “Tastes of everything; goes with everything.”?

Better still… why don’t they try capturing the beer-drinking population of Australia, too, with wine labels that say: “Fragrances of Fourex with the subtle palate of stout and fags.”

Or we could go the whole hog and label beer the same way…

What about: “Not-so-subtle aromas of sweat and six-week-old footy kit, blended with tractor diesel and cattle-dog pee.”

And where will it all end? When the copywriters have spun themselves into a delirium of ever-more outrageous descriptions and disappeared up their own backsides, what will we have left!

With any luck it’ll be grapes. Fermented grapes.