MET workshops

Wine words – translating in the wine world

The wine market is vast, covering mass-produced plonk right through to ultra-premium elixirs that go under the hammer for thousands of pounds a bottle. Writing and translating in wine is just like in any other industry: producers, agents and importers each need to pitch their tone to their market. Wine snobbery is also rife and can be an obstacle for translators wishing to step up their knowledge or start out in the field.

This workshop will help you as a translator to produce copy that is natural, believable, idiomatic, and tailored to the right wine market for your clients. If you are an editor, the workshop will step up your wine knowledge and guide you through the lexicon, flagging up common errors you might come across and showing how they can be corrected.

During the session we will look at differences between aroma and flavour, how to decide which words should be left as in the original source (e.g. terroir, veraison), capitalization for grape varieties, wine appellations and regions, and how to find the right tone for tasting notes. We will not refer to a specific source language, but examples will be taken from Romance languages. Participants will get a chance to try out their tasting and description skills during a wine tasting session at the end.

Facilitator: Ruth Simpson

Purpose: Give participants insight into how to get around obstacles to writing just like a wine professional. Break down barriers in translators’ minds that wine is an inaccessible speciality area.

Description: Participants will hear and see an overview of a year in the life of a wine estate. Emphasis will be placed on the lexicon used for each stage in the process. Authentic photographs taken from local vineyards will be used as examples where possible.

Participants will then be given examples of texts from the world of viticulture, vinification, marketing and tasting that have been translated into or written directly in English and they will be asked how they would improve them.

A wine quiz will then be held. A description will be given about a term used in the wine industry and participants will have to find the “best” word for each description. Feedback will be given on each possibility, looking into the nuances for each term. The ball will then be put in the participants’ court and they will have to choose some words to describe a selection of terms.

At the end, participants will be given a chance to take part in a wine tasting where they will be guided through the entire process using the WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) approach. They can share their views on the wines being tasted and use what they have learnt in a real context.

Who should attend? Translators, editors and copywriters who currently work in the field of wines and those who are interested in pursuing a speciality in the area.

Outcome skills: Participants will be able to take on wine translations or write about wine with greater confidence and will go away from the workshop with enhanced knowledge about the stages involved in winemaking, the terms used in the field, and the style required by wine writers.

Pre-workshop information:
Free resources about wine can be found at: – for a wine/spirits course near you – a great resource if you’re not sure about a term you have come across in English.

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson
H. Johnson’s Pocket Encyclopedia of Wine
LEXIWINE/LEXIVIN by Paul Cadiau – a great wine dictionary that you can put in your pocket
About the facilitator: Never happier than when sipping on a chilled glass of white, Ruth Simpson has been translating professionally since 2008 in the fields of wine, beauty and personal development. She lives in Chablis on her family’s wine estate and holds the WSET Level 4 Diploma, the stepping stone to the revered Master of Wine qualification. Determined to stamp out wine snobbery once and for all, Ruth loves sharing her enthusiasm for wine and encouraging people to learn more about it.

Ruth also spent several years in Paris as an English language trainer at L’Oréal Luxury Products, facilitating workshops and giving individual tuition to a range of marketing and business professionals.

She is an alumna of the University of Warwick and has MITI status. A keen singer, violinist and ukulele player, Ruth has been directing the METM choir since 2017. She also loves exploring the depths of the ocean with a scuba pack on her back.