Dutch language a poor choice to describe smells
According to linguists Ilja Croijmans and Asifa Majid of the Radboud University Nijmegen, the Dutch language is a bad choice for describing smells, and therefore not great for wine-tasting. However, Dutch wine experts are getting better at describing smells by using very colourful language, something the average person would not do. Then again, pointing out that experts are actually better than ordinary folks sounds odd, considering that’s usually the point of being an expert.
To drive the point home, ordinary mortals and wine experts tasted wine and coffee, to see which group used what kind of language in their descriptions of smells and flavours. The wine experts were better at describing both wine and coffee, although both wine and coffee experts were no better than novices at naming everyday smells and tastes, showing that the expertise benefits are limited to the specific smells and flavours used to train experts, and not to more general ones.
For anyone who sucks at finding words other than ‘fruity’ (calling wine ‘sweet’ is often a no-no) and ‘dry’, Dutch wine shops and even supermarkets sell wine by numbers, which represent some sort of range between ‘fruity’ and ‘dry’ for us plebs.