If you speak German, you know Smaragd means emerald-colored lizard.

If you speak wine, you may know  Smaragd is the equivalent to Spatlese, a term used to define grapes picked later than other grapes, or grapes that have higher sugar levels.

If you don’t speak either, you probably had no idea what Smaragd means, but the good thing is, now you do.

When I see Smaragd on a label of  Austrian Gruner Veltliner, it gets me excited.

“Why?” one may ask.

Because I know it’s a little sweeter, and what is wrong with being just a little sweeter than the rest?

Everyone who reads by blog knows I relate all wine to life, and this blog is no different than the previous ones I have written.

In fact, part of my therapy is writing about wine and how it has shaped my life not only as a professional, but as a person.

As I study wine and its laws and its culture, I reflect on the past 12 years.

My major reflection is that I spent a great deal of my life not understanding hurt, torture, pain and suffering that most people experience on a daily basis.

My hurt came at a much later time in my life, and while it was extremely painful and suffocating and life-changing, it also made me look at life in a whole new way, with a much broader focus on those around me.

Enter my new friend, Janie.

She is a fifteen-year-old person who has changed my life in four short months.

Sometimes, you feel alone in life.  Sometimes, you feel misunderstood.

In television, this often happens with teenagers.

However, at 34 years old, I have very similar feelings.

In fact, I’m quite sure most people of all ages do on a regular basis.

Wine and the study of wine keep me focused, but sometimes, I become preoccupied with earthly things that do not matter.

Janie has put a new emphasis on my life.

She is happy and upbeat, but she also values hard work and common sense.  She reminds me of what I used to be like as a sophomore in high school.

She laughs and she jokes.  She says things that make people feel good.  Her smile is contagious, and she uses it generously.  She reacts to situations in a way where people become forgiving before they become upset.  She does all these things that make me know she had someone who really “raised her right.”

Janie’s mom died six years ago.

Her father has been in charge, and I have no idea what their family life is like, but I know someone, someway, somehow made sure Janie became a good and caring, responsible person.  Maybe it was a joint effort between father and siblings.

Maybe it was quite similar to how I was raised, but for different reasons.

I guess you would say Janie is ‘smaragd.”  Just a little sweeter, a little riper, a little more concentrated.  She has a darker color and a higher alcohol content.

Yes, Janie is smaragd.

“What is Smaragd?” asks my examiner.

“Smaragd is an emerald lizard who basks on the terraces of the vineyards.  It has a minimum alcohol of 12.5% and a minimum must weight of 19° KMW—the approximate equivalent of 95° Oechsle, or Spätlese ripeness.  As these wines must be dry, Smaragd wines can reach high alcohol levels, and show a high degree of extract.  Inevitably they display tones of botrytis.”

Smaragd is  a style of wine that makes me want to taste it, makes me want to have it in my wine cave always.

Smaragd is my friend Janie.

Someone so sweet you want to make sure your friendship continues forever.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jim Sessoms

    Smaragd is a lizard? Don’t think so–Emerald, yes, lizard, no. At one time, I was a German linguist but had never used that word so out comes the huge Cassell’s Dictionary!

  • cynthia

    Dear Inie,

    What a beautiful tribute to your dear friend, Janie.

    much love to you both,



    I have met Janie, and yes she is smarged.

  • go to, and check out the definition of ‘smaragd.’

  • Sandra Livesay

    Inie– you are smarged! and smart also!!

  • Jim Sessoms

    Inie, while I salute your tribute to your friend, y’know, ya coulda just said “OK, so I boobed up the direct translation of the word, but you got my point” and I say Yes, we did get your point and at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing. But it still doesn’t mean “lizard”!