I’m a stickler for using the right word.
Someone once said to me,
“It is I? Isn’t it, It’s me?”
No… sorry, you missed school the day that one was explained. “Is” is a copulative verb (the verb “to be”), and takes a subjective pronoun after any use of the verb “to be.” It is I, it is she, it is he, it is they, it is we… etc.)
When I came into the wine business, I learned most of what I did from others for the first few years. Then, I decided to take copious college units to catch up, which included viticulture, enology, sales, marketing, PR, Spanish I and II, wine components… the list goes on…
In all of that, I never came across which word is correct to use in which instance; “variety” and/or “varietal.” Then, on a wine blog I saw something that made me stop and take notice.
David Graves of Saintsbury Vineyard made reference to the misuse of the word “varietal.”
He certainly got my attention. I didn’t know I could be using the word incorrectly. I sent David an E-mail asking him to please explain… Because I have to write so much, and use the word as much as a mother uses the word “milk” with kids, I don’t want to be misusing either word.
Here’s his explanation, and we all need to take notice, if we’re responsible for copy writing…
“Variety is a noun, and varietal is an adjective, which I learned at UC Davis.”
Today, the word has been misused so often that dictionaries have simply given up and are now including the word “varietal” as a possible noun. It pains me to see that which is wrong become right simply because of misuse and abuse. It is I who will be sticking to its original forms. It perhaps doesn’t matter to most of the rest of us; but, there are a few diehards left among us.
I’m sure there are much bigger issues burning on everyone’s mind today; but I needed this slight diversion right now, as I write “variety” one more time and reflect on its abuse. Thanks Wikipedia!