Savoring Wine Words

I love finding just the right word to describe a life experience.

Sparkling Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) along the Rhine River in Germany 
During a recent business trip to Germany, I had the opportunity to visit several small, medium and large wineries along the Rhine in southern part of the country known as the Rheingau region.  As often happens when I taste wine, I am amazed at how big a difference there is in my ability to taste and discern flavor and aroma in wine compared to food. I regularly cook but have never made wine may so this might offer a clue to my own sensory gap.  I become uncorked recognizing the difficulty I have tasting great wine compared to my food tasting skills.  Once I pop the corc, (Nomacorc of course), I am at a loss for words- literally.

Homemade black bean cakes with lime sour cream  (recipe below)
If a meal is placed in front of me, I can often reverse engineer the entire plate intuitively knowing the subtle flavor of certain herbs that can balance richness in a butter sauce with a delicate sweet floral overtone. I know my tarragon from my turmeric and I know the right words to use to describe the weaving together of flavor in each and every dish. I have a keen sense for hints of nutmeg or even the wonderful aroma from cardamom.

I love enjoying a wonderful meal as I try and imagine all that went into its preparation. Did they roast the garlic in olive oil to draw out that sweet fragrance; was the sauce reduced with a touch of something tangy or tart like balsamic vinegar or orange zest; did the basil leaves that wrapped around the pan-sauteed vegetables get added at just the last minute to preserve their bright flavor? Did they catch the mango at its peak ripeness? Is that lemon zest I detect?

A small winery in Rheingau region of Germany 
With a glass of wine, I feel like a rank amateur unable to find that hint of blackberry or vegetable notes that my enology-friends express without thinking twice.  I stumble as I swirl and sniff trying to catch the aroma that should be easy for me to detect. It is easier for me to eventually figure it out from the aroma than the taste. But words fail me when I am tasting wine. Fortunately, I am gaining a vocabulary as I start to understand structure, acidity, minerality, fruit-forward and my favorite- - - when the wine has legs. When you learn about varietals and how they are processed, you often get more clues. My favorite varietal (niebbelo grape) from Italy is sun-dried so I now know to look for those raisin/fig flavors. For a great guide to wine words and their mean, click here

All of this makes me think about how powerful words are at explaining our experiences.

Words can help define and give structure to complex life experiences. Some of life most wonderful experiences are so special because we can name it and put a label on that exact experience. But so often, it is so difficult to name things that are so important in life. It is so powerful to have words to describe a moments of exquisite joy and celestial elation that deserve precise language. And on the flip side, a moment of supreme banality deserves ridiculous and silly words that are playful and filled with frivolity.

The following list consists of several situations that are common where no word or phrase exists. They happen frequently enough that we should have a way to describe this with precision. They are all personal and idiosyncratic to me but I bet something similar has happened to you.

   Saying Goodbye to a Loved One Living Far Away: What do you call it when your child or friend, who lives far away, has been visiting with you, it is time to say goodbye and you hug them in your arms but don’t want to release your grip?  What word can convey this feeling that your love, your connection, your attachment will go on and on forever? Hugging is such a weak word since cars hug the road. The act of putting your arms around the shoulders of a loved one and wanting it to last forever deserves a new word. This feeling needs its own special description that combines the deep-rooted love you have with the desire to hold on forever and not let go.

I like to call this…


It combines love and infinity and feels like it has a spiritual quality about that precious time.

Used in a sentence:  As I said my long goodbye to my daughter who lives in Hawaii (or Hollywood), we embraced in a moment of loviniti.

       Oriented toward Joy: What is the word that describes the predisposition of someone who is so positive and upbeat that they just seem to have a natural capability for finding joy in everything?
We all know that person who seems to always find the joy in the smallest experiences of life. They don’t need any grandiose occurrence or over-the-top experience to live in an exalted state of bliss. They smile and have that certain way of seeing the world as filled with joyful moments and a lightness of being. Like a child waking up each day with happiness in her eyes, they seem to have an innate skill to bring the sunshine on a rainy day.

I like to call this…

Fanny has that haptitude about life
Having a haptitude means that you are always using your life force and aptitude to find happiness in life. When you trip on the carpet and your Chinese food sprays across the floor you sit and laugh at the craziness of this mess. You see signs from the universe all around you reminding you not to take things too seriously and to chill out a bit. The smell of a simple orange or grating nutmeg sends you off in the morning with a smile on your face that welcomes the day.

Used in a sentence: My goal each and every day is to embrace each moment with a certain haptitude so I can find pleasure in the simplest thing like the smell of dark-roasted coffee brewing or the absence of sound on a quiet, warm summer morning.

Quiet courage with style: What is it called when you live your life overcoming difficulties that aren't visible to everyone? This state of being is not often seen or apparent to most but it is a way of showing courage with spirit and light. It is often involves enduring harsh memories but elevating them into a celestial understanding that puts them into a galactic perspective.

The word I like to use to describe this is…


Used in a sentence:   As I watch the day unfold, I was able to capture a glimpse of raelegance* as I witnessed my wife quietly sitting, drinking her hot tea as she thought through the ideas of her coming writing project while she climbs up a spiritual ladder of awakening.

Unrivaled Food Joy: Have you ever had the life experience when all things are aligned in the world? You have your favorite channel on the TV (Food Network), you are in the middle of making a spectacular meal that includes fresh and healthy ingredients and your cat is standing on a shelf watching you cook with purr love.  (Purr love is cat for pure love). All of these are occur at the same time you are sharing funny Yogurt Land stories, via text, with your best friend who lives 3000 miles away. This is a combination of fat-free euphoric emotion and a sudden sweet awareness of how wonderful life can be.

I like to call this having an…


Experiencing an Epifanny
Used in a sentence:  It was a warm spring day under the Hollywood sign, as I awoke and had an epifanny of joy knowing that I would get a chance to do all the things I love this Saturday morning.

.       Tropical Hormone Filled with Joy: Another form of sheer elation and joy includes having a certain hormone running through your body that makes you feel so happy and warm inside.  Usually this experience includes a tropical breeze, the taste of POG (passion fruit, orange and guava juice) and a sense that all is balanced and in its rightful place. In the air you always smell the sweet coconut suntan lotion that reminds you of the islands as you contemplate a trip to the North Shore. I like to describe this as having a special bio-energy running through your being that is like a happy hormone.

The word is…

A dose of Sarahtonin

Used in a sentence:  As I awoke in the late morning with my white cat purring in my ear, I felt the rush of sarahtonin running through my body, providing me with the uplifting breeze of another day in paradise.

Just the Right Word
Words carry great meaning and intention. A writer carefully select just the right word to season a story with just the right flavor. The wrong word is like an overcooked sauce where some flavor remains but you burn away the subtly of the seasoning.

There is joy in finding just the right word.


From the Moment's Later Cookbook 

Here is my black bean recipe that is rich in flavor with savory overtones from the hot sauce and fresh rosemary. 

BLACK BEAN CAKE RECIPE  (See photo above)

Ingredients for cakes: 
2 cans of black beans with water drained (or 4 cups of black beans soaked overnight)
1 cup onions
1 cup white or portobello mushrooms
1 cup of red pepper
1 cup of fennel (celery can be substituted)
bread crumbs
fresh rosemary (about 1/4 cup finely chopped)
Chohula hot sauce (or your favorite brand)

Ingredients for sauce: 
2 cups sour cream
1 lime


  1. Drain water from black beans
  2. Mash one can of beans leaving second can whole
  3. Combine in big bowl.
  4. Saute onions, peppers, fennel and mushrooms
  5. Add chopped rosemary
  6. Add teaspoon of hot sauce (or to taste)
  7. Add salt and pepper
  8. Let sauteed vegetables cool. Then add to bowl with black beans
  9. Slowly blend together with spoon, 
  10. Chill for 30 minutes.
  11. Form into patties (not too large); about 1/2 cup of volume.
  12. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top
  13. Pan saute in olive oil cooking about 4 minutes per side
  14. Keep warm in 350 degree oven while you prepare rest of meal. 
  1. Put sour cream into bowl 
  2. Wash and then micro plane zest of an entire lime into sour cream
  3. Squeeze juice of remaining lime into sour cream
  4. Blend together with spoon and refrigerate. 
Serve with fresh vegetable and sliced fruit. Asparagus and mango are my favorite but substitute whatever is freshest. 

Great with Ken Wright Cellars Pinot Noir

*My wife’s name is Ra El
**My youngest daughter’s name is Fanny
***My oldest daughter’s name is Sarah

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