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New York Times Uncovers List Of Secret Sommelier Lingo

Much like their food-slinging kitchen and FOH brethren, sommeliers have their own secret language to communicate with each other. In a follow-up to their article about restaurant lingo, the New York Times today compiled a list of the terms that the nation’s top sommeliers throw around, in the event that one must purchase a $1000 bottle of wine and wants to know what their sommelier is really saying.

Sometimes the secret language is for the good of the patron — who wants to know that they’re being referred to as a “whale” (heavy drinker)? — and sometimes it’s to keep track of their inventory — a “dolphin” or a “porpoise” is a lower-quality wine that the restaurant must buy in order to get the wine that they want — but regardless, one thing is clear: sommeliers are very big fans of marine life.

Other words are simply industry terminology (“priming” a glass by swirling it with wine), but then these words popped up:

SPOOFULATED = wine manipulated (e.g., with oak chips) for a bigger flavor. Such wines are like wearing TOO MUCH LIPSTICK

CORK DORK · (WINE) GEEK: One who delights in the weirdest and most unusual wines on (or off) the list.

COUGAR JUICE = California chard or malbec

For more secret sommelier language, check out the article below — or read the Wikipedia article for marine biology; many of the terms are crossovers.

[NYT]

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