Irish language

The Bluffer's guide to the fruits of the vine and work of human hands

IN VINO VERITAS: The Roche de Solutré in Burgundy with the Mâcon vineyards in the foreground is one place you could visit on a fact-finding mission to discover all you can about French wine
Robert McMillen

CHEERS TO to the trusty companions along the way as the Bluffer’s Guide to Irish stops off to quench his thirst.

As you all might know, the Bluffer is a big fan of the fruit of the vine and work of human hands.

Fíon is the Irish for wine and you can have fíon dearg - red wine, fíon bán - white wine or (and it’s becoming more popular) fíon bándearg - rosé.

If you are in the little bistro in the middle of the Gaeltacht, you can ask for gloine fíon bán - a glass of white wine. Or change bán to dearg or bándearg depending on your mood.

One of his favourite pleasures is going to the Wine Company’s wine tasting nights, usually at the Errigal Inn in south Belfast.

First of all, bíonn an chuideachta go hiontach - the company is great. There are people who look as if they have a siléar - a seller at home and others who want to upgrade from three for a tenner. 

Gilles is the fear a’ tí - master of ceremonies, and ex-pat from Burgundy who shares his vast knowledge with an unmistakeable twinkle in his eye.

You won’t be blinded by béarlagar - jargon so you won’t need to know about malolectic fermentation!

And you won’t hear the caint ornáideach - flowery language that has given wine critics such a bad reputation over the years.

(Tá droch-chlú air - he/it has a bad reputation) Instead, everyone can make up their own minds about what it is they actually taste without looking for hints of pomegranate grown in the shadow of the Himalayas or a soupçon of the Malayan kumquat, neither of which were common in the larders of west Belfast when the Bluffer was growing up.

Basically, you can see what a wine looks like, what is smells like and then what it tastes like.

You can call a wine milis - sweet - we’re talking serious Black Tower  here – or tirim - dry.

Fíon ar bhlas na gcaor - is a fruity wine and úr means fresh.

The colour of a wine will sometimes give an indication of what it tastes like, different shades of red, for example.

A wine’s bouquet - boladh and it’s here you can decide if it reminds you of anything you have eaten or tasted or smelt before, torthaí - fruits, caora - berries, burnt toast or an Aborigine’s armpit.

And finally, you get to an blas - the taste.

The better wines will be more casta - complex, like looking at a colour photo instead of a B+W one.

Doimhne - depth means the wine has layers of flavour making the wine feel deep. 

Each grape will have it’s own characteristics. Depending on the wine, Pinot Grigio will taste searbh - bitter, Temprenillo might make you think of tabac - tobacco,  Cabernet Sauvignon is known to be tathagach - full-bodied.

In whites, Sauvignon Blanc is green and luibheach - herbaceous while Chardonnays are full-bodied dry white wines.

So, that was a quick guide to wine as Gaeilge and it could have been four times as long.

Remember ól go céillí - drink sensibly and be like our friends on the continent, have it with food with good company and conversation. 


fíon (feen) - wine 

fíon dearg (feen jarag) - red wine

fíon bán (feen baan) - white wine 

fíon bándearg (feen baanjarag) - rosé

gloine fíon bán (glinya feen baan) - a glass of white wine bíonn an chuideachta go hiontach (beean un khudgeakhta gaw heentakh) - the company is great

siléar (shilayr) - a seller

fear a’ tí (farh a tee) - master 

béarlagar (bayrlagar) - jargon

caint ornáideach (kiyntch ornaajakh) - flowery language

Tá droch-chlú air (taa drokh-chloo er) - he/it has a bad reputation

milis (mileesh) - sweet

tirim (chirim) - dry.

Fíon ar bhlas na gcaor (feen er wlas na gear) - a fruity wine

úr (oor) - fresh

boladh (boloo) - bouquet 

torthaí (torhee) - fruits,

caora (kayra) - berries

an blas (un blass) - the taste

casta (casta) - complex

doimhne (divnya) - depth

searbh (sharoo) - bitter

tabac (tabac) - tobacco

tathagach (tahagakh)- full-bodied

uibheach (livakh) - herbaceous 

ól go céillí (awl gaw caylyee) - drink sensibly

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