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

Terroir — Typicity

les caves de pyrene

Terroir – I refer you to my monograph etc. etc. One of my favourite quotes from Trollope is the pithy aphorism: “Land is about the only thing that can’t fly away”. The sole intention of many wine-makers is to capture the essential nature of the countryside. Terroir is simply the wine describing the land and man working in harmony with the raw material to create that ineffable sense of region in the bottle. Although it has quasi-mystical connotations terroir is as real as the soil beneath our foot. The taste of terroir is however intuitively perceived and exists beyond the actual primary flavour of the wine as if to say in the words of Irving Berlin: “The song has ended but the melody lingers on”.

Terroir 2  – The same vine has a different value in different places (Pliny on terroir)

Terroir 3 -“Terroir has never been fixed, in taste or in perception. It has always been an evolving expression of culture. What distinguishes our era is the instantaneousness and universality of change. Before, the sense of a terroir would evolve over generations, hundreds of years, allowing for the slow accretion of knowledge and experience to build into sedimentary layers, like the geological underpinning of a given terroir itself. Today layers are stripped away overnight, and a new layer is added nearly each vintage.”

 —Liquid Memory, Jonathan Nossiter

Terroirists – Growers who latch onto the notion of terroir as a gimmick to advertise their wines.


Thai food – a type of food mentioned in the matchless matching scenarios. The buzzword is thermal shock.

Thermovinification – Giving red wine temporary hot flushes.

Things We Will Never See – An issue of The Drinks Business without mention of Diageo

Thiol– A wine, whose aromatic flavours are habitually stolen by skunky mercaptans, is said to be Thiolonious.


The method of transferring wine from one tinaja to another involves the ancient skill of sucking the wine out of one clay plot and carrying the wine in the pouches of one’s cheeks before spitting it into a fresh vessel.

Topping Up – What tasters are meant to do with their marks.

Tradition – “Happy he who far removed from business tills with own oxen the fields that were his father’s.”

Trammelling – The world of wine is still fairly trammelled; the WSET inculcates a narrow textbook mentality towards wine, whilst oenology schools focus on chemical interventions in winemaking as if the truth of wine might be narrowed to a simple correct chemical formula and yet… and yet.. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in a scientifically absolute conservative syllabus. When it comes to wine I do not taste right or wrong, true or false, but interpret the flavours in my own way – as do millions of other drinkers. Nor am I wedded to some fuzzy notion of natural wine, although my palate is conditioned to prefer pure or exciting or unusual or intensely drinkable wines.  My first port of call isn’t invariably Grand Funk Central and I don’t get the shakes if deprived of my regular infusion of oxidised (oxidative, fool!) wines, but I like my wine to taste like wine, not of jam, or planks, or toast or sulphur or jif lemon juice or milquetoast lab concoction, and I am prepared to take a little funk in my stride. I would also rather taste the flavour of the terroir than the signature tropes of the winemaker.  My palate has changed over time, and, thus my aesthetic for judging has also changed. I am not prescriptive and recognise that wine will always be made differently and fulfil different purposes. Recently, I overheard an experienced taster dismiss a Txacoli as too thin? Too thin for a bloody steak? Or an intensely smoky anchovy? A mixture of the anachronistic points systems and lofty pronouncements have created a fake gold standard of critical judgement. This sense of a conservative hierarchy disenfranchises individual artisan growers and their wines which, in turn, (inevitably, perhaps) creates its own counter-culture.

Transformational technology – That which reduces wine trade press to a state of pleasurable incontinence.


Trend – Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months. –Oscar Wilde

Trend 2 – a wine trend is nothing if not flimflambuoyant.

Trends – You can only predict things accurately after they have happened. Watch for the Club Med brigade: Portugal, Southern Italy and Greece and I’ll have an outside bet on English wines making a miniature dent in the market, although looking at the rain teeming down today, better make that English rice wine from the paddy fields of West Sussex.

Trends 2 – A revolutionary wine survey about wine surveys has once again exposed the vast chasm in our knowledge about the drinking habits of Joe and Joanna public and thereby pointed out the irrefutable need for more wine surveys. Incontrovertible research demonstrates that people living below the poverty line tended to spend less on a bottle of wine than plutocrats, Russian oligarchs and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was further discovered that drinks advertising aimed at babies and people in a vegetative state tended to be less effective than that targeted at impressionable twenty-somethings and alcoholics. Other extraordinary revelations include the fact that all women drink Pinot Grigio to a man, that Australian wine is physically louder than French wine and Chateau Latour would sell far more bottles off supermarket shelves if it were varietally-labelled Posh Frog Cabernet Merlot and sported a day-glow back label explaining that the wine could be drunk with red meat or poultry or quaffed as an aperitif.


*The bearable lightness of low alcohol

*Pitifully low yields

*Old vines, vieilles vignes, vigne vecchia

*Obscure grape varieties

*Zero sulphur wines

*Animals in vineyards

* Qvevri, Amphorae & Eggs – but that’s enough about my solicitors

*Waiter, waiter, my wine is orange

*The High Life (metres above sea level)

*Wines with vaguely amusing names and labels drawn by children

Not remotely trending

*The price of wine in auctions in Hong Kong

*Which historic estate in Bordeaux has been sold to Chinese/Japanese banks/conglomerates

*Which previously unheard of estate in Bordeaux has been sold to plutocratic Chinese/Japanese businessmen/banks

*That this/the last/the next vintage is Bordeaux, California, New Zealand is:
The best ever
The hottest ever
The coolest ever
The most expensive ever

*Godello is the new Albarino is the new Viognier is the new Sauvignon is the new Chardonnay

*Gruner Veltliner is the new Gruner Veltliner


*Sommeliers are getting younger every day

*English sparkling wines are so good that the Champenois will drink nothing else

*It is essential to have one story about Diageo every day in The Drinks Business

*It is essential to have two stories about Diageo every day in The Drinks Business

*The number of superlatives used by wine journalist used to describe wines of “stunning mediocrity.”

*Slavish reporting of celebrities giving their name to wine brands. (Did you know that Cliff Richard’s la Vida Loca is older than it tastes?)

TCA, Trichloranisole – Not an invitation to experiment with a proprietary brand of aspirin, but the chemical compound which is formed in the cork by moulds in the presence of chlorine compounds. The Russian roulette of the wine world. See corked, Stelvin.  The word corked is often used to denote any and all wine faults, which is the equivalent of having your cork and eating it.

Truffles/Mushrooms – One of the more appealing signatures of age in wine, particularly found in red Burgundy.


The widest land
Doom takes to part us, leaves thy hand
in mine
With pulses that beat double. What I do
and what I dream include thee, as the
Must taste of its own grapes.

— Sonnets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Tutti-frutti – I don’t want to be wine-gummed to death, as Victor Mature nearly said.

Tufa – a buy one get one free offer. As in tufa one.

TV Pundits – Presenters with a highly developed sense of frivitas. Television has never knowingly under-trivialised food and wine. Of; course, it has improved my mind – every time a food programme is on the TV I go out of; the room and read a book (with apologies to Groucho Marx).

Twits? -The restaurant which asked its customers to vote for wines on Twitter has decided on another revolutionary method of selecting some old vintages of fine wine. They are going to hold a séance and ask the spirit of Thomas Jefferson to choose their claret list.

Twitter– All the world’s a social media junkie. One is truly defined by the latest tweet and updated status report. The more incessant the blether the gaudier is life’s tapestry. The wine world is over-fascinated by the social media and the way it can be used to advertise products; in fact, it is safe to say that the medium is the massage.

Txacoli – The obvious Basque-t-case.

Typicity – Wine that tastes of itself, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Asturrulumbo

    “Happy he who far removed from business tills with own oxen the fields that were his father’s.”
    Is that meant to be a Horace paraphrase?
    “Gaudentem, patrios, findere sarculo
    Agros, attalicis condicionibus
    Nunquam dimoveas, ut, trabe cypria
    Myrtoum, pavidus nauta, secet mare”

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