Short cut for Aussie wines

With an ever expanding range of grape varieties being grown in this wide brown land, the Australian drinking vernacular is poised for a rethink.

Australians abbreviate everything from the common ‘G’day’ salutation to the expletive, ‘Ken Oath’. Then there’s the perennial formula of substituting an ‘R’ with a ‘Z’, chop the word off and add an ‘A’ such as Sharon…Shazza., Barry… Bazza, even a Ferrari is a Fazza.

But what used to be the truncated domain of the real estate ad… sorry, advertisement, has been adopted for wine terminology by the ever abbreviating Australian public. And SMS culture isn’t helping with the arrival of GSM (grenache, shiraz, mouvedre).

Have a glass of shampoo, champers, bubbles, fizz, or a glass of crisp savvy or sovvy or, and don’t you just love a cab sav (when I went to school a sav was an evil greasy battered saveloy – but then that was an early abbreviation in itself) or a spurgle, but then it’s hard to beat a nice glass of shardy or a sticky.

I wish they’d abbreviate semillon (pronounced sem-ee-yohn). I cringe every time I hear sem-il-lon (don’t start me on croissant). But while I’m at full tilt, let’s look at shiraz or shah-razz as it is hissed here in Stray-lyah. This is the grape variety from which Penfolds Grange, formerly Grange Hermitage, derived its name. The Hermitage bit is what had to be rescinded when the French got their Gallic noses out of joint because Hermitage is a region in the Rhone Valley. The grape that predominates there is syrah and is a variety that originated in Shiraz in Persia.

Stand-by for truncation of the lesser known and increasingly popular varieties like sangiovese, nebbiolo, pinot gris and grigio, viognier, trebbiano, vermentino, albarino and beyond.

Interestingly beer gets a different treatment. It’s more of a vocabulary of euphemisms: a coldy, a brew, tinny, long neck, cleansing ale, even vitamin green (VB). Classically, comedian Jimeoin summed his Aussie observation with: “Have you got anything cold in the fridge?” What, a lettuce?!

Back in the MS DOS days my computer’s spell checker recognised relatively obscure brewing terms like wort and tun but spat the dummy when it came to any grape variety. Clearly the person who developed this bit of the programming was a hop head geek doubtless with a penchant for a hunky knitted cardigan…or is that cardi?

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