NPIM” the man next to me wrote in his notebook after setting down his glass. He underscored it twice. Oh dear. That bad? DNPIM is wine taster code. It stands for Do Not Put In Mouth.
I try to be honest in my tasting notes, but what gets published must first be translated from the gobbledegook of hieroglyphs and abbreviations that goes into my notebook. If I’m tasting 150 wines in a single day, I am not going to dedicate hours to crafting a rambling, evocative description of every single one. The pages in my tasting books more often read “Nope”, “No”, “Dire”, “What were they thinking of?”, “C-----!”, “Dilute” and so on. The wines that get longer, fuller notes are usually the ones I like.
Tasting notes only work as an aide-memoire if you write them for yourself. The mistake people learning about wine often make is to try to emulate what they perceive as being the language of wine. Forget it. David Crystal, linguistics expert and general word smarty-pants, recently said to me: “I throw in the towel when it comes to wine vocabulary. I tried to analyse it once and didn’t get anywhere.” Well, quite.
If you want to know how to bluff and bluster, then read Duncan Rhodes’s superb guide at catavino. net/bluffersguide-to-winetasting.
The most effective notes are highly idiosyncratic. And, very often, written in code – and so would yours be if, when you tasted, doesn’t begin with an F. NDIFM (Not Doing It For Me) covers a variety of sins. LTWTL (Losing the Will To Live) hardly needs explanation. TLIID, used by one wine chap I know when tasting the likes of fancy bordeaux en primeur? They’ll Like It, I Don’t. I haven’t asked who “They” are but think I can guess: the collective conscientiousness of the wine trade who tend to sway en masse towards the same decision on early wine samples.
One grandee buyer I know says his favourites are NBG (No Bloody Good) and DSU (Dull, Stale and Unprofitable). Someone else slaps a wine down with TTH (Trying Too Hard). Again, great shorthand for a wine that has maybe been over-pimped and over-glossed, say with a dash of expensive new oak and carefully sorted