Minerality: Postmodern Enophile Confusion
on 29/11/10 at 3:31 pmWine
Some of you are already wincing. No topic has wrought more confusion and ruffled more feathers among dedicated enophiles than the incessant bandying about of the lofty sounding “M” word. For some (myself included), asking whether minerality exists is like asking whether the sky is blue. Yet for many, the term isn’t nailed down.
The current confusion about minerality is hardly surprising. The well-known confusion about sour-bitter is another example of the poverty of linguistic palate training that most Americans receive in youth. Yet no one doubts the existence of these sensations. Why is this particular descriptor so elusive?
One source of confusion about minerality is that there are at least three aspects of wine flavor for which some tasters can latch on to no better term. Sometimes it refers to the aroma of wet stone, an odor for which I prefer the term “petrichor,” the smell of new rain as it liberates natural oils from rock in the desert. The second use is for flavors in the mouth that can also resemble stone or well water, a common attribute of Semillon. My definition represents a third sense, which differs entirely.