A little help: Tips on pronunciation as well as tasting notes would be a novel idea. Photo: Graham Tidy
I'm interested in trying new wines but it's a bit of a challenge getting my tongue around some of the names. For all the restaurants out there with exotic foreign wine lists, how about including a glossary and pronunciation guide?
Life was simpler for wine fanciers when we could sit in front of the telly mocking the ladies from Fountain Lakes as they poured another ''kar-donn-ay''. Mispronouncing wine names seems less hilarious now that so many wine lists resemble SBS programming guides.
As well as the near-obligatory offerings from France and Italy, bottles from Austria, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Spain - to name a few - are becoming commonplace at more ambitious restaurants and wine bars: it would be handy to have Lee Lin Chin as a dinner date to help order gruner veltliner from Wachau, assyrtiko from Santorini, dessert wine from Tokaj or txakoli from the Basque Country. (Not all at once, obviously, unless it was a very big night.)
If you're the kind of polyglot who can pronounce all of the above with panache, I congratulate you. If not, fear not - I seriously doubt any half-decent waiter in this country is going to stalk off and spend 10 minutes sniggering behind the bar because a customer couldn't pull off a convincing Catalonian accent.
I usually point to the wine that interests me and ask the waiter or barman, ''How do you say that?'' Sometimes they don't know either - fine by me, because I'd rather have someone admit they're stuck than steer me in the wrong direction.
I agree it would be a fine thing if more wine lists included tips on pronunciation along with the tasting notes - not just from the customer's point of view but from the restaurant's, too. It might help sell those wines with hard-to-say names. Years ago, when the folk at Yalumba were trying to kickstart sales of the then little-known viognier variety, they saturated the cities with billboards urging us all to say ''VEE-on-YAY''. We did, and still do.
Then again, when Australians become sufficiently fond of a variety we grant it the ultimate compliment and give it a nickname: think ''cab sav'' or ''chardy''. All the better if it's a tricky name to pronounce in its original form. This, after all, is how pedro ximenez came to be known to its familiars as ''PX''.