make me a palate on your floor – not!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012












In my UC Press book, Washington Wines & Wineries, I took the opportunity provided by a discussion of terroir to note, in a bit of a rant, that terroir is not spelled terrior. If you pay attention, you will find quite a few examples, in press releases, tasting notes, and even back labels, of wineries boasting about their special terrior. Which is not, I noted, a small dog attached to the winery.

Oddly enough, never having been a dog owner, I suddenly find myself the proud parent of a rescue dog, a terrier – chihuahua mix, which we have noted makes her a terr-hua. Better to be a terr-hua than a terrior!

But there is another, equally abused term, to which I wish to draw your fleeting attention today. Palate. When we speak of our tickling our taste buds, we are referencing the palate. Not, as one winery memorably wrote, “tantalizing you pallet.”

A pallet is a more pedestrian object, basically the wooden base upon which one stacks cases of wine with a forklift. No need to tantalize it! As far as another piece of wine advice I once read, I’m all for the notion that everyone should follow their own taste preferences. But... should everyone really pay attention to their own palette? If so, are you asking them to refer to the wooden board used for mixing paint colors; or to the colors selected when doing computer graphics; or (less likely, I admit), your are pointing out the importance of the valve under their pipe organ that connects to the keyboard.

Yikes! Happily (or confusingly), there is a wine connection here as well. Palette is also a French AOC (in the Provence region). It is also the name of a record label, and can refer to a class of archaeological artifacts dating back to pre-dynastic Egypt. If anyone is listening to their palette, it’s probably the record label.

Rock on, wine dudes.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Never a dull moment at PaulGregutt.com!(hopalong)

Wine Harlots said...

Ooophs!
Guilty as charged your honor!
I checked my blog and in 400 posts I spelled "terroir" wrong twice.
Guess I better fire my editor...

A friend has a rescue Chihuahua from Mexico, which of course I call a "Bajahuahua."

Thanks for your rant, it keeps me on my toes.
Now if I'd only use "varietal" properly...

All the best,

Nannette Eaton

Sean P. Sullivan said...

I taste with my palate, paint on my palette, and buy my wine by the pallet!

I'd guess that three quarters of the time I see this one used incorrectly when referring to wine.

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