Wine Words: Easy Drinking

published Nov 19, 2012
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Easy drinking, a word used to describe certain wines. What makes a wine easy drinking? Is it a compliment or not? Are there challenging or difficult drinking wines?

Firstly, in my opinion, the term ‘easy-drinking wine’ is a totally subjective ‘wine geek‘ term and open to much interpretation.

The term tends to be used by wine geeks to describe wines that they believe have very broad appeal, especially to novice and marginal wine drinkers. Wine geeks use it to describe wines that they feel are straightforward, fairly simple, inexpensive and most likely fruity – essentially what one might call a quaffable crowd pleaser.

Something that is easy for lots of people to enjoy should be considered a positive attribute. However, it carries the negative connotation of not being a serious wine, neither terribly interesting or complex, nor worthy of discussion or comment, beyond acknowledging its pleasant taste. This is why you rarely see it on producer or retailer marketing blurbs.

In my opinion easy drinking wines are not lesser wines. Horses for courses, and the specific situation should influence the choice of wine.

Let’s take Thanksgiving as an example. For most people this holiday means large multi-generational gatherings of family and friends. Easy drinking wines are usually the better wines to serve at Thanksgiving, with such an array of flavors and personal tastes to cater to. The alternative? A challenging, supposedly intellectual wine, that gets in the way of the day’s enjoyment. I think not!

Maybe in the future we should use the term ‘pleasurable’ instead of easy drinking. Might that sound more complementary?

Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant.

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