BLOG: Vine to Wine: The Fundamentals | Week 9

August 20, 2013 - 10:56
Author Name: 
UNLV Ed Outreach

10 Things Overhead in Class

Most of the time, when learning a new language, you start to understand it before you are able to speak it. When I first stepped foot inside the classroom for UNLV’s Vine to Wine Class, there were a lot of expressions that went over my head. It was kind of like being someone who speaks English as a second language and doesn’t understand confusing idioms the rest of the group takes for granted, such as “kick the bucket” or “fit as a fiddle.”

Image created by Mick Stephenson mixpix
While many of my fellow classmates work in the service industry and were more advanced students, I was one of the only ones starting from the ground floor with very little knowledge about wine. Now, coasting into week nine, I find myself understanding and participating in more and more of the discussions.

On the very first day of class, I started writing down expressions that sounded funny or pretentious to me, and now I find myself not only understanding why they are used, but also agreeing with them.

Without further adieu, I call this list “Sh#t UNLV Wine Students Say.”


“How heavy is the oak influence?”

I have no idea why I thought this was funny; This is actually a really common question and a very important one that can tell you a lot about the wine. It was the first day, so I guess I was still kind of shell-shocked.


“Where is the fruit hiding? There’s not a lot of nose on this wine”

Sometimes when you stick your nose in a glass, you’ll pick up everything except fruit. It may take two, three, four smells to really “find” smells of fruit, earth, oak, etc.


“Does anyone else get that petrol on the palate?”

Petrol, oh petrol. It took me a full 7 weeks to be able to pick up on that smell during tastings, and I still find it a hilarious descriptor, along with “cat pee.” (Seriously.)


“You’ve got lots of weight in your mouth.”

This is used to describe a more full-bodied wine, perhaps with an oily film that coats the mouth.


“Now that’s some RIPPING-high acid.”

Acidity is that puckering sensation you feel when your mouth immediately starts to salivate upon the first sip. This expression is usually referencing a Sauvignon Blanc, known for its very high acidity.


“It’s got a little backbone, lots of juiciness.”

This expression must have been used to describe an elegantly balanced wine, meaning that you can easily observe the structure (the acid and tannins) while also picking up on some pleasant fruit notes as well.


“Now this one may not hold up to a steak.”

If you’re eating a rich, robust cut of meat, you need a wine to match. A wine you usually enjoy alone can seem flabby when it’s not paired thoughtfully.


“Find me a masculine-style Pinot.”

Wine that has notes of leather, cigar box and smoked meat. Stereotypes are fun!


“The wine is so clean, it’s almost clinical.”

When a wine is aged in stainless steel (as opposed to oak) it can be quiet crisp, but when overdone it loses its appeal.  


“Now this, my friends, is some Cougar crack.”

An overly-oaked, buttery, creamy Chardonnay that’s so one-dimensional it’s almost a caricature of itself, very popular with middle-aged socialites and those who wish they were.

I look forward to adding to my list during the next four weeks of class!