flight (of wine etc.)

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Wed Mar 19 14:30:28 UTC 2008

one of the staff at my local Gordon Biersch has asked me (as the
resident linguist) about the expression "flight of wine" or "wine
flight", for a collection of small samples of various wines, usually
offered in a restaurant or bar; it looks like such a collection in a
shop is most often called a "wine sampler" rather than a "wine flight".

(the OED has a subentry for the relevant sense of "sampler", under the
more general meaning 'sample', but with a cite for a "Vermont sampler"
'sampler of Vermont foods', illustrating "sampler" in the narrower

i said it was pretty clearly a metaphorical extension of the 'group
flying together' sense of "flight", and said i'd check the OED.  not
in the OED, or NOAD2 or AHD4 or any of the on-line dictionaries i
checked.  not discussed on ADS-L since 1992.

lots and lots of ghits.  also a fair number for "flight of beer" /
"beer flight" (Gordon Biersch offers a "beer sampler", by the way) and
"flight of cheese", some for "flight of scotch", and a few for "flight
of whisk(e)y" and "flight of sherry".

what i couldn't tell from this quick search is how long this sense of
"flight" has been around, how widely it's used, etc.


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