Weird wine descriptions

5 really weird ways to describe wine – as used by the professionals

Weird wine descriptions

Wine. It’s a blessing and a curse but it can be so delicious. There are many great restaurants and wine bars in and around Potts Points, we get to sample a lot of it. Plus, in Sydney, we’re surrounded by some great wine regions such as Mudgee and The Hunter Valley. One thing that does sometimes make us sigh are the descriptions used by the ever-expanding offering of wine experts. Some of them are worthy of an eye-roll, some a chuckle.


Although no two people will report the same taste or characteristics from one wine, there are certain flavours that each wine and its wine variety are renowned for. The tastes of red, berry, dark chocolate, and sometimes eucalypt and peppermint in a Mudgee Cabernet Sauvignon. Or the lemon and limes flavours, lively acid, and citrusy crispness of a Hunter Valley Semillon. Then there are the flavours which make you question the sanity and taste buds of the expert who’s tasting them.

1. Cat pee (we kid you not)

Firstly, we have no idea why anyone would want to associate tasting wine with something as disgusting as this, it’s something that started to get thrown around with the rise of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. Apparently, it’s used to describe wines that take “tangy” to a whole level. What we can’t get our head around is that the people who are labelling it this, could also enjoy it???!! Each to their own!

2. Gasoline (petrol or diesel)

Really? Yes, it seems so. Pretty out there we know. This seems to appear in German, Alsace, and even New Zealand wines. It’s a certain aroma that comes through in the initial smell. It’s caused by the fruit they add to balance out the flavours and is due to the mineral content of the soils they grow in. Hence it only appears in certain regions.

3. Nail polish remover (or acetone)

So this pungent and unappealing smell can come from the same thing that gives wine a perceived fruitiness – ethyl acetate. Excessive amounts of this will give wine very strong aromas, that when combined with too much oxygen, take on more of a vinegar smell. Thankfully, we’ve not come across this. It’s a fault with the wine which could be cured by decanting or just resting in a glass for a while. Or, it’s a cue for you to send the bottle back.

4. Burnt rubber or matches

Various Sulphurs are used in winemaking, such as Sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. These are used to rid the wine of Brett (the yeast which can spoil the wine) or to simply stabilise it. But when used in excessive amounts, it can cause this unusual aroma.

5. Barnyard

Now this isn’t to say that the wine you’re choosing smells like straw, sheep, and pigs. It’s actually used to describe wine that has a rustic or earthy smell, or even gamey qualities. It’s not only used in the wine world and has popped up in the world of craft beer and spirits as well. We think out of all of the terms today, this one is probably the most palatable.


Now the question is, would you even try any wine which made you think of the above?