Saturday, 4 February 2017

Cat's Piss, Wet Dog and Musk: Are we Tasting Wine or Playing Jumanji?

Every time I hear someone saying a wine smells like cat's piss I'm immediately taken back to memories of an understaffed pet shop I used to visit ages ago just to play with the kittens. My love for kittens, just as my love for certain Sauvignon Blancs *cough, Marlborough, cough* made me endure the pungent smell, but at the same time, it prevented me from staying longer or having a second glass.

And as funky as it sounds, cat's piss is not the only wine aroma descriptor associated with animals that is included in the common tongue -pun intended- of sommeliers and wine people. "Farmyard", "Horse-y", "Game", "Musk" and "Wet Dog" are among the smells mentioned in tasting notes that would be more appropriate when talking about a zoo in the summer or an overcrowded gym.

These are not arbitrary or chosen by the experts to troll you, but the result of the presence of Brettanomyces, a type of yeast associated with aromas that you'd expect from a cage more than from a bottle. Love them or hate them, they're legit.

But why stop there? Dust your childhood books and grow your vocabulary of critters and their aromatic qualities. In order to help, here are a few animal wine descriptors I think the world could benefit from having...

Just imagine it...

Oh, I sense a delicate scent of raccoon fresh out of a bin-
Absolutely, very ripe-

While I'm not a fan of Brettanomyces, or Brett, for the pals, I have to admit that life would be dull if everything we could find in wine was citrus and berries.

It's kinda like in that film American Hustle, where Jennifer Lawrence's characters is obsessed with her odd-smelling nail polish. "Flowers and garbage", she describes it as. Great fit for a film where the glamorous and the trashy blended so well.

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