And the orange squeezed into the water seemed to yield to me, as I drank, the secret life of its ripening growth, its beneficent action upon certain states of that human body which belongs to so different a kingdom, its powerlessness to make that body live, but on the other hand the process of irrigation by which it was able to benefit it, a hundred mysteries concealed by the fruit from my senses, but not from my intellect. Marcel Proust, Sodome et Gomorrhe, trans. Moncrieff.
Before there is wine, there is fruit* and juice. Before we learn to appreciate wine and cider, we instinctively enjoy the taste of grapes and apple juice, just like we enjoy beer before we move on to whiskey.
In this picture of clustered fruit descriptors, we see three interesting clusters. On the bottom left we have the citrus fruit moving up into riper fruit. Some of the less frequent descriptors stand out on the side, like mirabelle, lichee and banana and fig. Then we have a berry cluster which moves up into a generic descriptor cluster: juicy, grapey and so on. Acidic is obviously a more generic term, used in contexts that have nothing to do with fruit.
Before we look at the three clusters separately, let’s check a different version of the picture, using a different clustering mechanism (a different lens).
It’s a bit chaotic, we should probably prune the list a bit, but again we can distinguish three clusters: citrus/ripe, berry and general fruit related descriptors. You can also see that the more generic descriptors are coloured darker.
Let’s zoom in on citrus/ripe/tropical fruit.
And we find what we might expect! Riper fruits leading to stone fruit and up to citrus, with some less common descriptors out on the side. I’ve added honey because it anchors the fruit descriptors around it, providing a reference point. In a next version we’ll add some more anchors and go into the associations a bit more.
This time honey is close to quince and apple. Quince and honey often go together for notes on Vouvray whites, like here in a note by Tamlyn Currin:
“Deep wild-meadow honey and herbs and quince. Compelling aromas that saturate the senses. Clementine and lemon and lace-spun edges and finely stitched seams. Crisp, tightly furled, fine as blown glass. Impossible to spit. A wine you want to dance across the room with.”
Thanks to Madeline at Wine Folly for suggesting a deeper dive into fruit!