The Real Alternative Wine Glossary: P (2nd half)


Pinotage – Someone who can’t stand Pinotage (and there are many) is said to have a Pinotage allergy.

Pinotage 2 – Pinot in its dotage.

Pinotphilia – The strange uncontrollable compulsion to find the good in wines made from the Pinot Noir regardless of whether they are too young, too knackered, too thin or too tannic.

Pinot Grigio – A blank, my lord? When you’re choosing Italian wine you don’t have to sacrifice yourself on the altar of orthodoxy.  PG has for too long stood not for Parental Guidance but for vapid Pinot Grigio or Pappy Gruel. Ditch the dishwater! PG needs some Grade A grey to it, courtesy of some skin maceration – Dario Princic take a bow. Drop the Gio and we have Pinot Gris, which, for some reason, is a different beast.

Pinot Gringo – The sleep of reason, wrote Goya, brings forth fools. As far as much Pinot Grigio is concerned the seep of raisins brings forth gruel. Emasculated, marrowless, milquetoast wines. So what have we here? Cool fermentation, a touch of skin contact, a little wine to play with, but not enough to get your teeth into.

Plankton – A wine encumbered by a ton of oak.

Plonk – One who only likes plonk may be called a plonker.

Pleasure –

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness
And Wilderness is Paradise now.

–The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Poetry – According to legend, the hooves of Pegasus, the winged horse, released a spring, the Hippocrene, on the northern slopes of Mount Helicon, which watered the vines and those who drank from this spring were inspired to write poetry or a style of wine journalism which is one sniff short of a full bouquet. For example,

Let me drink brandy,
Let me drink wine,
Oh, what the heck,
I’ll drink turpentine.

Poetry 2 –

Poetry is devil’s wine

St Augustine

Devil don’t know what he’s missing!


PoisonAustralian wine? It is not poison. –Aimé Guibert

Pol Roger – Champagne house founded by Paul Roger which was changed by deed poll or deed pol to Pol Roger. Roger and out.

Pomerols, Whinging – How the Antipodeans refer to the claret-swilling, Lords-pavilioned, MCC members.

Pommards, Whinging – How the Antipodeans refers to the Burgundy-swilling, Lords-pavilioned MCC members.

The Pope of… A French expression referring a winemaker who is the master of a particular grape variety. We are collecting popes on our wine list (q.v. Gilbert Geoffroy in Côtes de Duras). When we get a quorum, we will convene them all and elect an über-pope (after we’ve ceremonially incinerated the vine clippings), a pope for all seasons and all grape varieties.

Porpentine, Fretful – “reasoned” discussion of wine, particularly natural wine. These two lightest words, to borrow from the bard, seem to “harrow up the critical soul, freeze its ancient blood, make its two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, its knotted and combined locks to part and each particular hair to stand an end, like quills upon the fretful porpentine.” Tis a subject that seems to galvanise the most slumb’rous beasts in the wine jungle to beat their breasts and howl at the moon (which they don’t believe in either).

Pouilly-Fuisse – One of the easiest wines to type on a conventional keyboard.

Pourriture – Rotten or poor quality wine writing that aspires to have artistic merit.

Poulsard – Grown in Jura since the 13th century Poulsard’s names are legion: ploussard, peloussard, pulsard, polozard, mescle dans l’Ain. What an enchanting oddity! Such colour – pale colour with flickering orange, a mad bouquet with plenty of sous-bois and fruits (cherries and strawberries) in eaux de vie. A silk ‘n’ spice trail in the mouth: redcurrants, bilberries and rhubarb tied up with liquorice shoelaces. A study in deliciousness, the avatar of purity. Wines such as these have an evanescent quality: they are unpredictable, variable, even fragile.

Premier Crus – The cheap and cheerful boat journey equivalent of Premier Inns.

Pre Phylloxera – The time when Michael Broadbent started tasting wine.

Precocious – a fine Bordeaux from a great vintage that you can drink within your lifetime.

Precognition – The curious sensation that you have already read the next five year’s headlines in The Drinks Business. In the past.


Predictions – Here’s a rumour, I’ll tell you how I started it. If you taste a wine that you like, tell ten people. Three months later you’ll read about some crazy trend that rose without trace. Traditional things will come back into fashion if they embody sound virtues, just as a stopped clock will always tell the correct time twice a day. I predict a rumour riot at t’ rumour mill.

Premium – inflated siblings super-premium and ultra-premium and our favourite word: premiumisation. We love pluperfect superlatives as much as the next geezer, but sometimes there is nothing ne plus ultra. Where premium refers to brands – as it invariably does – we can take purported excellence with a pinch of salt. Like reserve (q.v.) premium means barely above bog standard, super premium means mediocre quality but less good value and ultra premium implies seriously expensive s**t, in an exceptionally heavy bottle.

Press, Wine – Described as one of the most ancient forms of wine press predating even Decanter magazine, and with columns as venerable as Michael Broadbent, the wine journal, carved on tablets of stone, describes a byzantine export network including sales of Syrah to the Syrians, Jordan wines to Jordan and Pinot Grigio to Sodom and Gomorrah. Exports soared in 30AD when a revolutionary process of converting water into wine quadrupled production in the wineries, but business subsequently dwindled when Israel’s neighbours took advantage of their own new technology particularly with their Pharaoh trade policy.


Press Wine – A dark red wine released for journalists to review that bears little or no relation to the wine that will be bottled for punters.

Prestige Cuvée – A wine that an estate feels justified in charging a premium for.

Price Apartheid – The price is definitely not right and has never been so. To understand what wine is actually worth you have to penetrate the London particular that shrouds mark ups and marketing legerdemain as well as understanding the rationale of the price as it is set at the winery.

Some journalists puff certain wines to the heavens for being good value that are actually sold as loss leaders, commodities used to gain customer loyalty. Anything is good value that is sold for nothing. Deep discounting is nakedly commercial; it discredits the labour of the wine grower – it is the equivalent of remaindering a book. Those same journalists often question the value of wines sold at their true price without ascertaining the cost of production and the market that the wines are aimed at.

Furthermore, the abiding acceptance of a commodity-driven, investible-in aristocracy of wines, a world where flash brands are entitled to their stratospheric price tags whereas lesser-known wines which are made with the same (if not more) exacting attention to detail, and with real passion, verve and purpose, are termed “not good value”, demonstrates the arrant intellectual hollowness at the heart of the wine industry. There is no more craftsmanship necessarily in a cru classé Bordeaux conceived and made in moated garage by some Kubla Khan of oenology than there is in a humble biodynamic Cabernet Franc from the Loire where the vigneron is the also winemaker and sweats over every single detail. The market is rigged in so many ways and the wine trade in thrall to a pointillist* index where aesthetic value is subordinated to saleable value. No wonder people are confused.

(pointillism = infantilism about points)

Pricing Structure – something which, in Bordeaux, like the peace of God, passeth all understanding.

Primeur – A nouveau wine released in the year of the harvest. Pre-primeur is a Bordeaux wine bought and sold before the vineyard has been planted.

Profit – Next time you go into a restaurant think upon profit and the concatenation of corkscrewed equations that determines the price you pay for the; wine in your glass. Leaving aside the Chancellor’s full half “grinch” by means of levying swingeing duty increases, the wine companies have to establish their reasonable margin to break even. Setting a price for a year involves taking a long view on the exchange rate between the UK and various countries. Then they have to build into their margins the number of restaurants, hotels, off licenses who exceed their credit terms. Those who go bust rarely, if ever, pay a penny to the wine companies. Restaurants, in particular, need cash flow, so wine companies are an easy option to run a big line of credit. As a wine merchant should you try to contact an accounts department you will set into train a series of lies and evasions. Accounts are only present when mistakes appear on an invoice, and even if the invoices are correct they will pretend to lose them to create a paper chain. It should be realised that these people that these people have to justify their position by controlling the outflow of cash. Arguably, the easiest way of saving money would be to sack themselves. Negotiating discounts is the next stage. Restaurants will demand discounts off a list price even before they have proved either volume or credit worthiness. The point of discounts is to pass them on to customers and make the wine more attractively priced, but many restaurants add the saving to their already grossly inflated profit margins. Restaurants will also play wine merchants off against each other, creating a Dutch auction on prices.

Prokupac – A Serbian red wine that can be bought in tablet form.

Prosecco – A dry form of prose, such as this wine glossary.

Provence – A region where the price of wines bears no relation to the provenance of the vines.

Pruning – The effect of editorial secateurs that cut the content of wine columns to beyond the sap.


Pulp Fiction – You see, this profession is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherfuckers. Motherfuckers who thought their ass would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don’t. –Marsellus Wallace

Pulpit – Advice: never use the pulpit as a wine commentator where the confessional will serve the purpose better. See also rent-a-quote-it is.

Punching (down) – Breaking up and submerging the cap of skins. Not to be confused with puncheon (a barrel).

Punt – Indentation in the bottom of the bottle. Pretentious bottles have pelagic punts in which small sommeliers have been known to disappear.

Pupillin – The World Capital of Ploussard. Or Poulsard if you prefer. We are all willing Pupullins here.

Pyrenees – Where you will find fleas that tease, the song of the Manseng, Basque-t case wines, and the origin of an unknown wine company in Guildford.

PX – Pedro Ximenez. The name of the grape and a rich raisiny fortified wine produced in Andalucia. Treacles nicely on yer vanilla ice cream.

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