Why do we include “suggested serving temperatures” in tech fact sheets? Anachronisms and other questionable practices in superfluity.

With the annual wine trade fairs around the corner, wineries across Italy are gearing up by refreshing their “tech sheets” or “fact sheets” — the scheda tecnica in Italian.

A number of my clients rely on me for the English renderings of this so-called technical data. And the recent rush of requests for new translations and edits has had me scratching my head: why do we insist on including “suggested serving temperatures” as part of the tech sheet canon?

And for that matter, what good will knowing the pH of a certain wine help a sales rep who’s trying to place a wine at a pseudo-Italian restaurant where the buyer is more concerned with pleasing their clientele and making a decent margin for their bottomline?

One of the anachronisms that strikes me as particularly superfluous, especially today, is the entry for “training system.”

Back when Italian wine was still fighting to find a place for itself next to its transalpine counterpart, the note on training system was meant in part to distinguish the old head-trained alberello vines from the more modern cordon- and Guyot-trained vines. It was a sign that the winery in question had made the necessary investment to upgrade its growing practices. As if that would make the difference between a decent wine and a great one. Today, in fact, it’s actually cooler and more progressive in some circles to have head-trained vines!

And don’t get me started on “suggested pairings.” My favorite recent pairing suggestion was evasive. We’re not including suggested pairings, the author wrote, because everyone has their own tastes. It underlined, at least in my mind, the superfluity of recommending foods to eat with a given wine. After all, people who live in New York eat different things than people in Texas. People who live in Asia eat different things that people in Europe. What’s the point of recommending vitello tonnato for a Barolo when the end user might be a vegetarian?

The great 20th-century Italian novelist Carlo Emilio Gadda used to say that pronouns are the lice of thought. My belief is that tech sheets are the lice of our wine times.

When are we going to revisit these antiquated conventions of industry and start writing about wine in a more purposeful and thoughtful way?

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