This was going to be a robust little column with a puckish attitude and some flinty, if not downright acidic, notes. I was all set to write about a fascinating lecture on the language of wine given at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in San Francisco in February. Of course, vintage wine verbiage has long been the subject of crisp yet tart lampooning. Nevertheless, the philosopher of language Ferdinand de Saussure did argue, probably between sips of sauvignon, that "the linguist has an interest in everything that touches the tongue." So a specific consideration of wine words is certainly appropriate, especially in light of the problems inherent in describing flavors.
This article was originally published with the title Drink and Be Merry.