Wine and Conversation, By Adrienne Lehrer

Christopher Hirst
Sunday 19 January 2014 02:53

Though the title suggests well-polished anecdotes from a rubicond buff, this book is actually what it says it is. Lehrer, who teaches linguistics at the University of Arizona, explores the inventive descriptions and similes that emerge when the mouth is simultaneously occupied with wine.

A list of "descriptors" in wine literature during the Seventies include dumb, durable, frolicsome, ostentatious and senile. Lehrer notes there can be a change in connotation when words from other areas are switched to wine.

For bodies, thin is neutral or positive, while stout is negative. "However, for wine, thin is negative." American drinkers rejected terms such as fat, feminine and manly, though raunchy has made an appearance. Lehrer notes a similiar tendency of wine labels to shrug off snobbery with jokey names. Anyone fancy a spot of Cardinal Zin?

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