Drinking Outside The Box

With Simon Woods – wine for people who have a life

The word on the street is "Toast" June 11, 2009 at 3:26 pm

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At least that’s the news according to Wine Peeps. Last week’s word was Malolactic fermentation – OK, that’s 2 words, but I didn’t come up with this. But toast, yes, that most agreeable to snacks. I’m always suspicious of people who don’t like toast (and sausages and chocolate). I mean, what’s not to like? OK, most domestic toasters seem to have no setting between anaemic and frazzled, but after a few sorry attempts, we all get around this failure.

In wine, toast is one of those characters that I like finding in wines that aren’t aged in highly-toasted oaked barrels or indeed in any sort of barrel (think Champagne, Riesling and Semillon) and don’t like finding in wines that are (think bimbo Chardonnay and too many New World Shirazes). In the first instance, it’s a sort of complexity that has emerged almost as if by magic; in the second, it’s there as a bolt-on flavour. I’m fed up of winemakers saying they age their wines in toasted oak barrels to add complexity. What they mean is they use it to add flavour, which is quite a different thing. Is a steak made more complex by being smeared with ketchup? No.

Toast rant over, but the word toast has another meaning in the Woods’ household, that originated with my in-laws. It went something like this.
F-I-L: Can you smell toast?
M-I-L: (looking at F-I-L in astonishment) T-O-A-S-T…

OK, she’s not got the best hearing and maybe you had to be there, but it’s become part of our vocabulary. Whenever someone has misheard something, and gone off on a completely wrong tangent, we say, ‘This is turning into a toast conversation.’ Now you know…

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