Every time I hear the word “boutique, you might as well be dragging your fingers down a blackboard in my world.

When I entered my freshman English class in high school, Miss Samways immediately said to us, “Don’t ever use the word ‘nice’ in anything you write in this class. I have one idiosyncrasy, and it’s the word ‘nice!’ Make sure you find other adjectives to describe things that are pleasant.” (“Aha,” thought I… “The alternative.”)

In true Miss Mary tradition, I’ve developed my own idiosyncrasy. It’s the word “boutique.”

When it comes to using this word to describe an artisan winery, “boutique” just denigrates all that one’s trying to explain… at least to me. I can’t get past the word to hear anything else that’s being said.

I think of poodles, perfume, and a putrid pink.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a time when my mother bathed herself in Faberge before going out with my dad. It was a time when beehive hairdos and poodle skirts were in… (We even had a poodle named “Pepe.”) Patent leather pocketbooks and mink stoles… All images of a time when someone went to a boutique salon to buy all those kitschy things.

When a winery is called ‘artisan,’ that seems to make it crystal clear that there’s an artist on board; someone who’s devoted to his or her craft, and only the best will do. He or she is not focused on pleasing the entire universe with flavors, aromas and/or oddities that are over the top. Artisan wineries have devoted, cult followers. Quality over quantity reigns. When you read this, does ’boutique’ make any sense at all in this equation?

Well, it’s a free country, and you can use any word you like, really, because I’m not Mary Samways. I don’t have a class, and you don’t have to worry about avoiding the use of a word that makes me feel like I’ve just heard fingernails screeching down a blackboard, again.

You can do your own thing. It’s America, after all… Just know that you won’t find that adjective in anything I write, except for this story. Unless, of course… someone really does have one…

In that case, I’d have to tell the truth. Better yet, I just won’t write about a “boutique,” including yours as so described, even if you use and love the word.