Skip to content

The perfect word for wine tasting?

October 23, 2013

oops - wine spill


Uttered when you trip up and spill a big glass of red wine down your front. Or when you take a bottle of 1996 Chateau Lascombe to party by accident. Or when you get home late mid-week, fancy a glass of red, and, thinking the label looks cute, open a bottle of 2009 Molly Dooker, The Scooter (a brain-foggingly 17% alcohol). Or when, when you are helping at a book signing, someone mistakes you for Oz Clarke’s wife – eek! Sadly all true.

How and why to slurp

The best way the word oops fits with wine….it’s exactly the sound when you sip some wine and try to take in a bit of oxygen at the same time. Go on try it….

Pour yourself a wine glass of anything you’d like to taste right now. Give it a swirl. I find it easiest to keep the bottom of the glass on the table, hold the stem and make big circles with it. If I swirl mid-air it can slop around alarmingly!  Raise the glass, stick your nose right in and sniff, then get down to some tasting.

The rationale for slurping a bit of air with your wine is that it helps to draw some of the vapour up the retro-nasal passage. This is the airway that connects the nose and the mouth and also home to a small patch of nerve endings. The olfactory epithelium helps us to identify thousands of aromas and explains why you can’t taste very well when you have a cold.

On your marks, ready for tasting….


Could this be the perfect onomatopoeic word for wine tasting?

with REN AT 15

Oops! Do I always wear the same clothes? With Ren Behan in London


I have a horror of acronyms; those series of capital letters and full stops representing some body, committee or ruling. They trip off the tongue of those in the know  leaving those who don’t totally bewildered. When I joined a large department of a bank, it was as though everyone was speaking a foreign language. Even now I get my CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) mixed up with my CMSs (Content Management System). What could OOPS stand for in the wine world?

Over Oaked and Partially Sipped; Ordinary Oenologists Prefer Syrah: Once Opened Pouring Sensible; Suggestions on a postcard (or in the comments).

O is for Oenology

…the study and science of wine. It also helps to round up a few wine things on my mind recently:

OAK– Jamie Goode published a wine manifesto this week and has a lot to say about oak which highlights the wine world’s reliance on barrel ageing (or in some cases adding oak chips or oak essence). Take points 18 and 24:

No new clothes
If you hate overripeness and obvious new oak (as you should), take care lest you end up praising a wine for the mere absence of these faults. It happens.

Escape the small oak rut

Too many winegrowers are obsessed by small oak. Small oak – barrels and barriques – doesn’t suit all that many wines. But it seems the default vessel of élevage. It’s a mistake.

Read the full manifesto here.

OSBORN – One day I might find adequate words to describe a wine dinner with Chester Osborn in May of this year. Barking mad springs to mind (in a nice way), he’s a bit of a wild man of wine and his personality probably divides people, as does his wine. We tasted drank a lot that evening including 2010 d’Arenberg Shiraz Vociferate Dipsomaniac Scarce Earth Single Vineyard – try saying that after you’ve drank a glass – which is partly treaded by foot and partly basket-pressed. Yes, I really must write about it, but in the meantime…

Chester Osborn wine dinner

Oops! What were we doing?!

PICPOUL – Apparently this grape variety means ‘lip stinger’ in the local dialect but it’s far from astringent, with some creamy notes, dry, fresh and floral. Nice to see the white variety becoming more popular for summer drinking this year in the UK, pushing into the sea of ubiquitous Pinot Grigio and…

SAUVIGNON BLANC – “Cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush”. I read this tasting note somewhere recently and it sums up most SB that I taste. Reminded that it ain’t necessarily so by a Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc the other evening at Rivington Grill which although not a complex wine is crisp and fragrant, grassy and fresh without being rasping.

Oops! is the theme for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge and like Wine Kat who set it this month, I love words. Words for their own sake, words for their sound, words with the mouthfeel of fine wine, words which have many meanings. Anyone remember Wordy Rappinghood by the Tom Tom Club? It could be my theme music.

Oops! What does this word conjure up for you?

  1. October 23, 2013 9:54 am

    Great fun! I love Picpoul – a largely overlooked gem. However, it’s never been as good as the first bottle, drunk in a small restaurant on the banks of the Canal du Midi with grilled sardines and a plain tossed salad…

  2. October 23, 2013 1:09 pm

    What a brilliant time!
    🙂 Mandy xo

  3. October 23, 2013 1:25 pm

    A friend of mine once accidentally took a vintage Orlando Jacaranda Ridge (one of our more premium wines) to a barbeque. When he got there, everyone was drinking $7/bottle Jacob’s Creek. He opened his wine..then hid it IN a tree. For the rest of the evening, he kept wandering over to the tree and pouring himself a glass. 🙂

  4. October 23, 2013 5:14 pm

    LOVE it! Especially your onomatopoeic angle . . . Cheers!!

    • October 23, 2013 5:49 pm

      I was trying to find video to post (and too shy to post my own) – it’s true though 🙂

  5. talkavino permalink
    October 23, 2013 5:28 pm

    hmmm, looks like you do actually have a special dress just for the wine events… Nice! : )

    • October 23, 2013 5:48 pm

      I think it’s my new wine uniform

  6. October 23, 2013 7:22 pm

    Great post! As I scrolled through the pics before reading, the first thing I thought was “HEY, that’s crazy Chester from D’Arenberg behind you!” He’s a joy and his enthusiasm is infections. Haven’t read the wood manifesto yet, but every time I taste an unwooded Chardonnay I am reminded that Chardonnay sorta kinda does need a touch of wood… But I guess that’s the point – match the wood to the wine’s needs, don’t just assume that wood is good 🙂 I love Picpoul – a vastly underrated grape.

    • October 24, 2013 7:37 am

      I really need to write about that night with Chester – problem is my memory is very hazy!

  7. October 23, 2013 7:22 pm

    Infections?!? Aaargh – infectious, of course!

  8. October 23, 2013 11:31 pm

    Blooming ‘Eck! Very scientific. Oops is usually what I say when the bottle has gone and it feels like I’ve only had a glass!

    • October 24, 2013 7:32 am

      Ha ha – I know that feeling 🙂

  9. October 24, 2013 1:00 am

    Picpoul changed my life. Very popular at our local with my colleagues 😉

    • October 24, 2013 7:32 am

      How picpoul changed my life….I’d like to read that post 🙂 Now on a mission to get more of it here

  10. October 26, 2013 10:38 am

    Fun reading this! Yeah, nothing conjures up the sheepish feeling associated with a spilt glass than OOPS! We use this a lot – Whad-daaah (a covered up version I guess of what the….!).

  11. December 21, 2013 1:36 am

    Reblogged this on mwwcblog.


  1. Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #6 (#MWWC6)—Mystery | the drunken cyclist

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: