Sextary is not sex!

Written by Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano; © (2016) Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano

One of the most personally rewarding benefits of this profession of mine as a Simultaneous Interpreter & Translator and also as a Brand Ambassador in the Wine Domain is the opportunity of expanding knowledge and awareness in the languages with which I find myself involved: English, French and Italian.

A Senior French Wine Maker uttered to his guest (a Scottish Wine lover): “un demi-setier … un demi-setier par jour”. At that very moment, and for the first time in my entire career in the wine business I had to admit that I was happy that I had been forced to study Ancient Roman Law … and yes, a grimace of satisfaction transformed my countenance!!!

My Simultaneous Translation output for un demi-setier  was: three liters (US gallons: 0.792519). Back to my twenties and thanks to my Ancient Roman Law classes I had learned that ‘SEXTARY’ was the liquid measure Romans used for trading both in wines and any other liquids. [English: Sextary; French: Setier; Italian: Sestario]. Then the presentation of wines went on: The Burgundy White Wine of Corton is actually named Corton-Charlemagne (the red version of it was the most preferred wine of the US President John F. Kennedy).

It has a delicate bouquet of baked apples (I did not make it up as this is exactly what was said in French: la pomme au four), citrus and pineapple, flint and fern. You can even find leather and truffle fragrances in ancient vintages. If anyone feels like playing the snobby expert, they could utter the term of Millesime for replacing the more American Masculine Term of VINTAGE. The feline ladies especially (or anybody with a posh attitude) should replace terms as follow:

The feline ladies especially (or anybody with a posh attitude) should replace terms as follow: 1. Millesime for Vintage.

1. Millesime for Vintage.
2. Flûte and not the low-class vernacular flute (Please, purse your lips if you want to be sure that the circumflex accent above the letter û is heard).
3. As the term Bouquet is in inflation – even the commoners can pronounce it – my suggested replacement would be PARFUM versus the gross ‘perfume’.

It is interesting to note that the Red Corton Wines are made of Pinot Noir whereas the White Corton Wines (do you remember we should call the whites Corton-Charlemagne?) are of Chardonnay which is the traditional grape variety of Burgundy (Bourgogne for the snobs – not for the upper-crust!). I have also experienced that my beloved North-American People get confused every time they hear the French term ‘CLIMAT’, which reads in almost every French wine brochure.

I was saying that the pretentious French term of ‘CLIMAT’ if translated poorly renders the English word CLIMATE … but here am I and here the story for understanding ‘CLIMAT’: At some point the wines of Burgundy were destined for the Christian Rituals, and the monks of the various abbeys applied a very scientific approach in growing the vines … in fact, they started to separate distinct patches of lands with different sun exposure, subjected to different weather conditions and soil declivity grade … hence, they marked every single patch of land to avoid mingled crops, so that every patch of the territory represented a different CLIMATE (that is the French CLIMAT) that eventually yielded different tastes, aromas and fragrances in wines.

Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano
Dr. Salvatore Ivan Italiano

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