If anything is to turn curious drinkers away from wine, it would be ridiculous and pretentious hipster descriptors like “fresh cut garden hose” and “pencil shavings.” But, hear us out, these descriptors exist for a reason and do start to make more sense as you drink more wine. Sound like a plan?
Allow me to share my favorites with you. I will also attempt to make some sense of these descriptors so that you can act like a pretentious hipster the next time you sip on wine. Hey, you might even read some of these and think, “I’ve tasted that in wine before!”
In all honesty, what fun would boring, logical tasting notes be?
- Fresh Cut Garden Hose
I know, right? What is a fresh cut garden hose supposed to taste like? Is the hose made of rubber or plastic? Why would you cut your hose?
I learned about this descriptor in the Netflix documentary, SOMM. Personally, I’m still waiting for the day to come where I sip on a wine and say, “Ah, yes! Fresh cut garden hose!”
One of the great things about wine is it has a way of taking us back to memories, experiences, and feelings. It completely makes sense to attach the taste or smell of wine to something that has remained in your subconscious that you maybe haven’t even thought of until this wine brought it back out. Many sauvignon blanc-styled wines taste like freshly cut grass, or for you, it might be a meadow you twirled through while singing “The Hills Are Alive” back in May. To each their own.
This Ian Cauble character from SOMM (a true wine genius, by the way) is also known to use descriptors like “fresh-opened can of tennis balls.” I mean, it doesn’t NOT make sense…
If you can smell a whiff of tequila and immediately think of a bad night in college, then you can absolutely be triggered by wine, too. If fresh cut garden hose means something to you, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Unless, you’re running around to your neighbors’ houses and cutting their hoses. That’s not cool.
- Pencil Shavings
I don’t know if using pencils is even a thing anymore, but this descriptor takes me back to my childhood school days because I’m pretty sure that’s the last time I ever encountered pencil shavings.
I have tasted some rich, cabernet-styled red wines in which I have detected a mahogany, “woody” taste and aroma. And those tend to be my favorites. Apparently, pencil shavings refer to this type of taste, but I think “rich mahogany” sounds more accurate and makes me sound like more of an adult.
- Wet Dog
This probably goes without saying, but you do NOT want your wine to taste like wet dog.
Wet dog refers to a wine that has officially gone bad. The bottle has maybe been open for too long, has let the chemicals get to it and now it has a musty, moldy smell. Just like Fido taking a dive in the pool and deciding to run inside to shake it all off, wet dog wine ruins everything, too.
After Fido got yelled at for smelling up the house, he sauntered with his tail between his legs over to the barnyard to confide in Bessie the cow. Are you following me on this aromatic journey?
You might imagine “barnyard” tasting like a cow took a s*** in your glass (if you describe it this way, you don’t have to worry about sharing the bottle with your friends!) but it actually refers to a rustic, earthy, forest-floor taste. This is another great quality in a cabernet sauvignon.
- New Plastic
Who thought that when you were playing with your Barbie dolls as a small child, you’d be brought to that memory again as a sad adult drinking a bottle of wine on the couch?
There is no actual plastic in your wine, but this descriptor often comes up in highly acidic white wines. Like all these descriptors, a little bit in moderation can be a good thing. If the new plastic smell is too overbearing, that wine just isn’t for you!
Wine is a weird, wonderful world. Even some of the basic wine terms can sound silly. So have fun with it, and the next time you pick up a glass, give it a good whiff and think about what childhood memory it triggers (hoping it’s not a traumatic one).