Let’s be honest, the world of wine can get a little ridiculous at times. Here are some of the most hilarious wine descriptors I’ve come across:

Cat’s Pee – A common term wine people use for Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc. I can’t say I’ve ever picked up on it, but then I don’t have a cat.

Banyard – ie cow poo mixed with hay. Doesn’t sound very nice does it?

Tennis Balls – I first heard this one used by Master Sommelier Ian Cauble in the documentary Somm (which is awesome by the way). He copped plenty of crap for it, but I’ve definitely smelt this in wines before, and I’ve already used it as a descriptor in a review. It wasn’t a good thing in that case.

Freshly Cut Garden Hose – This was from Ian Cauble as well. It sounds pretentious I know, but anyone who grew up with a backyard knows that smell.

Wet Dog This is a very bad thing and means your wine is corked. Mercifully, we don’t come across it very often in Australia these days thanks to the wonder of screw caps, but if you ever open a seriously corked wine, you’ll recognise this smell instantly.

Pencil shavings/Pencil Case – Ok, it probably doesn’t sound like a good thing – who wants a HB in their wine? But it can be quite pleasant if balanced by some nice fruity or floral aromas. This is most common in Cabernet wines.

Petrol/Gasoline – Mmm petrol, yummy right? This is actually considered a positive trait in some aged Rieslings.

Brett – Everyone hates Brett. You’ll see reviews referring to “low-level Brett” or describing a wine as “Bretty” like it’s a bad thing and you might find yourself wondering – who is this dude and does he really smell that bad? Well, Brett is actually short for Brettanomyces, a yeast that can find its way into wines without being invited and create some pretty unappealing aromas, like band-aids and the aforementioned Barnyard.

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