My wife just took a trip with a friend to Sonoma County, California, where they visited a couple of wineries to sample their wares. When she got back, she brought me a handout from one of the vineyards describing the five wines they tasted that day.

I don’t drink alcohol, so I know nothing about wine culture, except that many oenophiles (I had to look that one up) I have encountered seem awfully snooty. Much of that comes from their knowledge — or the pretense thereof — regarding what goes into their favorite beverages.

Here’s the actual description from the winery of one of its products, which goes for $140/bottle:

Aromas of Meyer lemon, nectarine, golden apple, and poached pear, combined with nuances of Belgian waffle and vanilla cake. The juicy palate features broad elements of rich baked citrus, dried pineapple, and apple strudel layered with marzipan and ginger. A bright, long finish is driven by a backbone of generous, fruitful acidity.

Wow! It has both aromas and nuances — and a backbone, too. What’s the difference between those terms? How did Belgian waffle, vanilla cake, and apple strudel get in there? Did some of the stuff from a dessert buffet accidentally fall into the cask? Or is this just a random word salad compiled to make consumers believe there’s more to the wine than there actually is?

I count eleven elements in the description above. But I seriously doubt that an average human — or even the haughtiest wine expert — could list more than a couple of the ingredients without prompting (um, I’m gonna say grapes?). Of course, they could never admit they aren’t that discerning, so when the winery’s guide describes what’s in each blend, they’d nod their heads as if to say, “Oh, yes, I knew it had both poached pear and dried pineapple!”

Another of the $140/bottle wines was described thusly:

Aromas of apricot, poached pear, and baked apple, along with hints of lemon curd, spun honey, and vanilla. The palate delivers a round and juicy entry of baked peach, which leads to a tart center which features flavors of ripe nectarine and kiwi. A hint of sourdough toast is carried through on a custardy finish.

Here’s an experiment I’d like to see conducted. Pour a glass of one of these wines, but read the description of the other without informing the guest. Wanna bet they couldn’t tell the difference?

I don’t have to worry about this, since anything I consume with a custardy finish probably had a custardy beginning, like a chocolate concrete with plain M&Ms mixed in. Oooh, this one has a hint of candy coating!