The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

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

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