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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Monday, July 27 2009. 10:00

Blog : Watch out for the Pellet on your Palate

With the growing interest in wine in India the number of wine articles on the net and in the print media has also taken an exponential jump, resulting in the non-wine aficionados mis-spelling some common wine terms that irks me a lot.

I have often written and expressed my anguish when such writers use the word Wino for wine-lovers or wine connoisseurs rather than describing a destitute cheap wine drinking alcoholic. I have also expressed my voice of objection and angst when people refer to wine as sharaab- a term which I personally feel should be reserved for daaru – hard liquor like whisky, wodka and wum (spellings are mine!)

But the word that is universally and often mis-spelt in the wine tasting world is palate. At the risk of my wife accusing me of yet another example of pontification, I must emphasize that palate is the second most important word in the world of wine. Irrespective of the wine’s colour, country, class or cepage (grape mix), it must satisfy the palate, technically the roof of the mouth but used more as a sense of taste.

Many writers confuse it with palette which is actually the flat board used by artists to mix paints but may be used to define the range of colour characteristics, patterns etc. A restaurant’s wine list could be a palette of wines from different parts of the world but each sip should be welcome by the palate.

Another word I often seen used incorrectly is pallet- and many a writer from US, UK and even other English speaking countries has used it. Every time I read it, it reminds me of a narrow bed or a straw-filled mattress. I also think of some of our importers bringing in pallet-loads of wine instead of containers. Wine cases are palletized- placed on a wooden platform and tightly wrapped around with plastic sheets, enabling each such set to be lifted through fork lifts.

I really want to throw a pellet at the occasional writer who says that a particular wine is too dry or sweet or astringent for the pellet, a term used to describe a small bullet or a shot or even the stone ball used as a missile for the catapult.

While I request such writers to refrain from mis-spelling the word which is too sour for my palate, the authors of also agree with me when they caution  the usage of palate and even suggest to ‘avoid confusion with palette or pallet.’

Brewing vs. fermentation

Referring to brewing instead of fermentation, typically by  a few Indian journalists is understandable in a country where 140 million cases of the brew (beer) are consumed as compared with only the 1.6 mL cases of the fermented beverage. But it should not be difficult to grasp that wine is produced in a winery by fermenting grapes or other fruits generally whereas beer is brewed in a brewery using hops.  

In the world of wine, troubles may ferment but not brew or distil- though the option of choosing the right words is usually left to the state of mind of the journalist at that particular moment.

I wonder how your palate has liked this blog but I hope it has left some ideas fermenting in your mind. I would like to share with our readers their views, even if you throw them like a pellet at me or send me a pallet-ful of similar ideas, adding to my palette of wine information.

Cav. Subhash Arora



# Remie Law Says:

Spot on, as usual. I have issues with our local (Malaysian) writers in their cut-and-paste jobs. Imagine a major local wine merchant writing wine articles for a major regional newspaper?

Posted @ July 30, 2009 05:53


# Anisha Sharma Says:

:-) good reading

Posted @ July 27, 2009 19:36


# Sourish Bhattacharyya Says:

You have done a great service to journalism by raising the issue of correct spellings. You deserve the thanks of all editors who have to keep correcting wrong spellings. Cheers!

Posted @ July 27, 2009 17:46


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