Ciudad Real, may 07-09 2019

Ciudad Real, may 07-09 2019





"When using wine tasting terminology, the aim is to say the same thing and to understand each other"

Teresa de Cuadra and Ernesto Suárez, teachers at the Castilla - La Mancha University

10.05.2005 | 

María Teresa de Cuadra and Ernesto Suárez, teachers at the Castilla - La Mancha University, reflected in FENAVIN about wine tasting terminology and they explained how to say in other languages what we really want to say about tasting. De Cuadra explained, "it is about all of us saying the same thing, not using the local terminology about tastes and smells, because if we are not clear, in the end, the customer might not drink the wine".

The speakers, who were introduced by the Provincial Government vice-president, María Victoria Sobrino, talked about the study of linguistic aspects of the wine tasting terminology, made of linguistic units coming from various specialized fields (oenology, botanic, chemistry, agronomy,..) but, on the other hand, there are other words which, belonging to the primary lexicon, get a new dimension in the wine tasting terminology.

Wine tasting terminology, for both, is not only subject to research but also to applied research, i.e. research carried out by and for the wine sector. As they both highlighted, when speaking about wine, the object and subject are difficult to grasp in descriptive terms, "communication which should be intelligible for each and everyone of the groups being in collusion with it, professionals and consumers, is even more complex".

The sensory analysis, wine tasting, only measuring method accepted by all, so far, tries to put in objective terms, through language, sensations which are eminently personal through the most subjective element of our environment, the senses of the analysts.

María Teresa de Cuadra is a linguist, specialized in computational linguistics and Ernesto Suárez is a teacher specialized in literature and painting. As such, they know how difficult it is to translate the specialized language into every day language, bearing in mind that wine tasting has, for each wine, three aspects: linguistic, communicative, and conceptual, with references and comparative elements and the frequent use of metaphors.


Both teachers bring up the example of the labels on the back of the bottles which are very trendy these days and which actually do not describe the contents of the bottle they are affixed to but handle vague and contradictory categories, senseless clichés. When analyzing communication by wine producers, they stress the importance to avoid literal translation into English when describing the wine but rather take the time to look for a translation with references that are intelligible for the recipient of the message.

Despite globalization, they conclude with humor and to illustrate the reason for their thoughts, it is highly improbable that somebody living in an arid area would really understand what "undergrowth aromas" mean. That is the reason why "it is so important provide a context when talking about wine tasting and communicating the qualities of a given wine". "If terms are confused it is probable the customer will not drink the wine, but if I say it is nice in the mouth, then the customer will probably try it, and we must differentiate a wine tasting for professionals from a didactic wine tasting for the audience"