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Appendix 2
The Language of Wine in English

One cannot talk or write long about wine in English without discovering that the language is weak in words for the activities of vine growing and winemaking. The solution is either to Frenchify one's language, since French is rich in just those words that English lacks, or to invent English equivalents, or, most often, to strike some sort of compromise.

It was not always thus. In the days when England had vineyards and made large quantities of wine, there was a considerable stock of wine terms both in Old English and in Middle English: wintre (vine), winberi (grape), wingetred (press), winegeard-naem (harvest), win-cole (vat), winwyrcend (vine dresser), drosna (lees), awilled win (new wine), win-aern (wine cellar). In the days of King Alfred it was possible to speak of the winegeard-naem of the winberis from the wintre , the result of which went through the wingetred and was stored, as awilled win , in the win-aern .[1] Now we say that the harvest (vintage ) of grapes from the vine goes through the press and, as new wine , goes into the cellar . All of the Anglo-Saxon terms have been driven out by French.

The triumph of the French was double. Not only did the Norman conquest impose the French language on the Anglo-Saxon, but French winegrowing put an end to that of the English. The process of borrowing into English had been going on since a much earlier time than these events, however. It is notable that there was no Anglo-Saxon term for wine itself: Anglo-Saxon wine is the Latin vinum . Other terms borrowed at a very early time include barrel, bottle, cellar, grape, press , and vine , all of which were known in Middle English. Some words that were borrowed early


from the French have not survived into modern English, evidently because the things they named no longer existed in England: vigneron (winegrower) and vynour (vine dresser) are instances.

What was true of the language in England was even truer of the language in the North American colonies. The English colonists came without a winegrowing tradition, and were, for centuries, unable to build one in the New World. The vocabulary of wine would continue to wither away without anything to feed it. But we have now developed, or are developing, a tradition of our own, so that we can at least expect the possibility of a lively growth of novelty in our stock of wine words. The state of the vocabulary as it stands at this moment may be briefly outlined:

1. Words taken from the French, either replacing older English terms or having no English equivalent

There are two levels in this category: the first level consists of those terms that have been accepted so long that they are no longer perceived as foreign; the second consists of words that are still felt to be French and therefore regarded as somewhat affected. Sometimes this is so because we lack the thing as well as the word.

a. Accepted terms include: barrel, bottle, butt, cellar, claret (and a whole range of equivalent wine names used as typical), ferment, funnel, gallon, gauge, graft, grape, press, puncheon, raisin, ullage, vine, vintage , and vintner . Such words can change in interesting ways. Vintner , for example, is an instance of a specialized meaning becoming generalized. Originally a vintner was a wine dealer, a seller of wine; now the word and its derivations are used to mean not only a seller but one who has to do with the entire process of winegrowing, as in the phrase now common on American wine labels, "vinted and bottled by." Vintage is an instance of the opposite process of narrowed meaning: originally vintage meant harvest, but it is now generally understood to mean "good harvest," as in "vintage year" or "vintage wine."

b. French terms still felt to be alien but in fact used by writers in English include: appellation, brut, cave, cépage, chai, chambrer, chaptalization, climat, clos, cru, cuvage, cuvée, éleveur, marc, négoçiant, ordinaire, remuage, sec, sommelier, terroir, vigneron, vignoble . One of these terms, vigneron , was anglicized as vinearoon in the days of Shakespeare, but it did not survive long. A word like négoçiant is an instance of a name for something unfamiliar but not quite unknown in the United States: the négoçiant is a merchant who selects young wines, then stores, ages, and blends them, before bottling and labelling them to sell wholesale. He thus performs many functions under one comprehensive name. Terroir is another unfamiliar concept; it refers, literally, to the contribution of the


soil to the character of the wine, but in application it sometimes takes on almost mystical attributes. The French take terroir seriously; the Americans so far remain skeptical.

A few French terms may be regarded as on the borderline between naturalization and foreignness: Château used in American winery names is perhaps one of them; so, too, is the technical term must (French mout ) for the yet-unfermented juice that comes from the crusher.

2. Words of modern English origin now accepted as standard

This is a category containing, so far as I know, only two words: winery and winegrowing. Winery , formed on the analogy of tannery or creamery , is an American invention whose first recorded instances go back to the early 1880s. Before that time, Americans were likely to call their few winemaking establishments "wine houses," or "wine cellars." Winery obviously filled a gap, and has become absolutely standard.

Winegrower is a more tendentious word, perhaps not yet fully established. I have used it as one of my conventions in this book, but not without some hesitation. Its use is encouraged by the California Wine Institute, which recognizes in it the valuable implication that wine is not a manufactured but an agricultural product. Its currency goes back to the days not long after Repeal, when California winegrowers sought a marketing order under the Agricultural Marketing Act. Such an order gave legal authority to the wine trade association to collect mandatory assessments from all California wineries in order to pay the costs of research and promotion. But the enterprise had to be demonstrably agricultural. The wine people were at first refused as not qualified under the act, but later won recognition, partly through the "evidence" for the character of their work provided by the name winegrower . Jefferson Peyser, for many years the legal officer of the Wine Institute, claims the credit for having suggested the term when the marketing order was being sought.[2] The term was used as early as 1851 in Cincinnati, and doubtless elsewhere as early, or earlier than, that; the Oxford English Dictionary records an English instance from 1859. Thus Peyser cannot claim the invention of the word; but he may have been responsible for bringing it into wide and recognized use in this country.

3. Words of modern English origin not yet accepted

I exclude from this category the technical terms of modern viticulture and winemaking—terms, mostly compounds, such as T-bud grafting, mechanical harvester, dejuicer, field crushing , and ion exchange. Shermat (from "sherry material") and mog (for "material other than grape") are genuine


new words. Besides those, I know of only a very few instances of deliberate coinages, all of them efforts to solve the same problem: What do you call a person who takes a general interest in wine? Oenophile is one suggestion, from the Greek oinos , "wine." The variant enophiliac also exists.[3] Leon Adams has suggested oenenthusiast , with the same beginning but concluding not with the Greek philos ("loving") but with the Greek enthousia ("being possessed by a god"). I have also seen vinophile , mixing Latin and Greek. Whether as oenophiles, enophiliacs, oenenthusiasts, or vinophiles, we should be seeing an efflorescence of new names and terms for wine and its lore.


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