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  • Writer's pictureCraig Stoltz

Wine notes with a foul nose

In damnation of overwrought "creative" wine tasting notes

I'm all for impressionistic wine-tasting notes. Tell me the Pinot Grigio reminds you of sitting in a cool summer creek as a child. Compare that badass Cab to gargling with kitty litter. Say that the old-vine Zin smells like bumping your knee in that funky spice shop at the beach.

But I am not for this:

"A Pinot Noir with ruby hues so intriguing that one might imagine clicking their heels in a quintessential pair of slippers and thinking 'There is no place like home.' Following the road of delicate oak and vanilla..."

But it gets worse, with references to the inevitable poppy fields, swirling storms, and, yes, somehow, flying monkeys.

In notes for other wines, an elegant burgundy color evokes in the author's uncontained imagination Scarlet O'Hara, and you instantly brace for pinched references to Tara and Rhett. A wonderfully obscure Napa white manages to summon Grandma, she of strong hand and salty tongue. A Petite Sirah [cq] pays tribute to the rock band Rush, with references I don't follow. And so on.

These overwrung tasting notes create the impression that the writer is dedicated more to demonstrating their imagined cleverness than to providing useful observations on the wine. Of course that Pinot doesn't whisk you away to a land of flying monkeys. The writer simply latched onto the word "ruby" at first pass, locked into the Oz association, and then followed the yellow brick cliches into tortured metaphors that have nothing to do with the wine.

These are not tasting notes; they are the scribblings of someone who needs an editor, or a therapist.

In this case the culprit, a waiter let on, is the actual owner of The Wine Kitchen in Frederick, Maryland, an otherwise well-managed and -mannered tastery. The wines are decent, the flights are well-curated, the food good even if you skip the wine, and the prices fair.

But those notes are bad for the brand, as they say: They create the impression that someone is running amok, and nobody's able to stop them.

I may be back. I won't ask for the tasting notes.

I'm not sure I can handle a Chardonnay with soaring notes that summon the spires of Downton Abbey...

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