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Wine Trivia and Fun Facts

Albariño - The great white grape of Galicia in northeastern Spain, which shows many characteristics of the riesling, but with a bit of honeysuckle in the nose that’s more reminiscent of viognier.

Barbera - Aggressive high-acid Piemontaise red wine varietal, more suited to red sauce or red meat than to simple sipping.

Barbera – Not as well-known as other red wine grapes, it can be a flavorful and rich wine for everyday consumption with aromas of blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry, and black plum. Mainly grown in Italy, Argentina, and California, it is often over-cropped which leads to a thin, acidic wine. It pairs best with pizza and poultry.

Brachetto - A red Muscat variety producing slightly fizzy low-alcohol dessert reds in Piemonte

Cabernet Franc - Very useful Bordeaux blender, softens the cabernet sauvignon in Médoc blends. Stands alone as a soft, luxuriant, chocolatey red in CA, food-friendly middleweight in France’s Anjou and Tourane.

Cabernet Franc - Cabernet Franc is a red wine grape variety similar to and a parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. A cross of it with Sauvignon blanc resulted in Cabernet Sauvignon.

Cabernet Sauvignon - The great red grape of the Médoc, makes pretty decent wine in California and Australia, as well.

Cabernet Sauvignon – Being less than 600 years old, this is a relatively newcomer to the wine grape world; however, it is easily the most famous red wine grape today. Its base is in Bordeaux, France. Other names that Cabernet Sauvignon has been or is known by include: Petit Cabernet, Petit Vidure and Vidure, and in Italy, Uva Francese. It pairs best with roast beef, venison, lamb, and highly-fragrant cheese.

Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety of red grape mainly used for wine production, and is, along with Chardonnay, one of the most widely-planted of the world‘s grape varieties.

Cabernet Sauvignon - The Legend of Cabernet Sauvignon
The oldest recorded reference to Cabernet Sauvignon comes from the 18th Century and Chateau Mouton. Baron de Brane ripped up the white varieties and planted a red variety called Vidure. Vidure comes from the French words Vigne Dure or hardy vine in reference to the tough nature of Cabernet Sauvignon. The name’s still used today in some parts of the Bordeaux where over 50% of the Merdoc and Graves districts are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon. The massive spread of Cabernet Sauvignon came in the 1800‘s when it was used to replant the phylloxera ravaged vineyards of Europe.

Carignane/Cariñena - Southern France & California for the first spelling, and Spain for the second, ripens rather well, full body.

Cork - The oldest and most productive cork tree on record is the Whistler Tree in Portugal. The countless birds living in the tree‘s branches led to the name; the Whistler Tree. The tree is over 213 years old and has been producing cork since 1820. Each harvest produces cork for over 100,000 wine bottle corks. Not bad when you consider the average tree accounts for around 40,000.

Chambourcin - Hybrid varietal planted on the east coast USA; some pleasant aromatics, blends decently with pinot noir.

Champagne - The pressure in a bottle of Champagne is about 90 pounds per square inch. That is about 3 times the pressure in your automobile tires

Chardonnay - Charter member of the champagne trio, where it absolutely shines as a stand-alone and a blender. Great white burgundies, not-so-great-but-still-yummy white burgundies, honking big California and Australian whites…

Chardonnay - Chardonnay most likely originated in a village called Chardonnay in M?connais in the southern portion of France‘s burgundy region. The name comes from ’cardonnacum‘ that is known as the ’place full of thistles‘.

Chardonnay – One of the world’s finest white wine grapes, it is planted all over the world, although the classic growing region is Burgundy, France. It is one of the three grapes used for making Champagne. It pairs best with seafood, fish or poultry.

Chardonnay - Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make a white varietal wine. It is believed to be named after the village of Chardonnay in the Mâconnais region of France.

Chenin Blanc - Number one great white of the France’s Loire valley, long-living whites both dry and moelleux from Coteau de Layon and Vouvray, (also good value sparklers) and august dry white from Savennieres.

Chenin Blanc – At its best in the Loire Valley of France, this white wine grape ranges in style from intensely flavored sweet wine to very dry table wine. Although not very well-known in the U.S., the Vouvray and Savennières are superior appellations from the Loire Valley. It pairs best with appetizers, trout, white fish, and chicken.

Cinsault - Cinsault (pronounced “san-so”) is a red wine grape, whose heat tolerance and productivity make it the fourth most widely-planted grape variety in France.

Counoise - Counoise is a red wine grape grown primarily in the Rhône valley. It is also known as Aubun and is a sometimes

Dom Perignon - The 17th century Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon, is credited with discovering the cork as a means to seal wine and champagne bottles. He is also credited with discovering the process of making champagne. It is said that upon his first taste of champagne he cried, “Come quickly, I am tasting stars.”.

Dunkelfelder - German red, not invariably awful, but rarely of interest.

Fume Blanc - Fumé blanc is a California wine similar to an oaked Sauvignon blanc. Fumé blanc which may be used as a synonym for Sauvignon blanc in the US.

French Colombard - Southern French, also used for brandy, widely planted for California jug-whites.

Gewurztraminer - German name, Italian origins (Termin); produces spicy (würzig) aromatic whites in France’s Alsace region. Big wines—lots of flavor if occasionally simple.

Gewürztraminer – One of the most distinctive of all the wine grapes. This is perfect as a before-dinner drink, sensitizing the palate and encouraging the appetite. It can range in style from dry to mildly sweet and is very smooth. It pairs best with turkey, veal, pork, and fully-ripened cheeses.

Graciano - Spanish red varietal (small black grapes in Rioja and Navarra) producing high acid juice, blends nicely with tempranillo.

Grapes - The average number of grapes it takes to produce a bottle of wine: 600.

Grenache/Garnacha - Prolific easy-ripening red popular in southern Rhône and Spain.

Grenache Blanc - Côtes-du-Rhône white varietal. Easy ripeness and alcohol makes it popular among growers.

Grenache - Grenache is a red grape variety grown primarily for winemaking. It is usually blended with other varieties, rather than made into a varietal wine.

Ives Noir - We needed an item beginning with “I” and discovered this rare bird hiding up in the Finger Lakes.

Lemberger - Red German varietal, (Austria’s Blaufrankisch) some tasty wines, some merely quirky. Not so distinctively aromatic as the homophonous formaggio.

Malbec - Malbec creates an intense, inky red wine often used in blends.

The main aromas from a rich Malbec include: cherry, plum, raisins, coffee, chocolate, leather and raspberry. The key flavours a nice Malbec exhibits include: plum, cherry, chocolate, dried fruits, and balsamic. Ageing in oak releases the vanilla aromas and flavours.

Malbec - Malbec is a black, mellow grape variety originally grown in France, in the Loire Valley and Cahors. It has been long known as one of the six grapes used in the blending of red Bordeaux wine,

Mead - In ancient Babylon, the bride‘s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead (fermented honey beverage) he could drink for a month after the wedding. Because their calendar was lunar or moon-based, this period of free mead was called the “honey month,” or what we now call the “honeymoon”.

Melon de Bourgogne - The grape of Muscadet. Also much of what’s been called pinot blanc in Califonia.

Merlot - Source of the rare and precious Pomerol (and St. Emilion) in Bordeaux, along with a lot of nondescript soft reds from California and sometimes from Australia. Occasionally interesting as an Italian, from Tuscany, Friuli and elsewhere.

Merlot - The most famous producer of French merlot wines is Chateau Petrus, whose 1990 bottling sells for about $1,700 a bottle.

Merlot - The most famous producer of French merlot wines is Petrus, whose 1990 bottling sells for about $1,700 a bottle! Often described as soft and plump, it is a descendant of the Cabernet Franc grape and often confused with its close relation to Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s best paired with game, beef, and cheese.

Merlot - Merlot is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot is produce mainly in France, Italy, and California

Merlot - Ripe Merlot gives you lots of fruit flavours; plums, cherry, raspberry, mint and subtle spice. However unripe Merlot, goes towards herbaceous green flavours. It’s great with rich dishes, pasta, meats and even chocolate.

Mourvedre - Mourvèdre is a variety of wine grape grown around the world. Mourvèdre is more than capable of generating vin de table with a great degree of finesse.

Müller -Thurgau - German crossing of riesling and sylvaner, rarely distinguished.

Muscat - Grand Cru Alsace, bright spritzy Portuguese, grand and viscous Australian fortified dessert.

Muscat - The Muscat grape is the world‘s oldest known grape variety.

Muscat - Muscat is the only grape to produce wine with the same aroma as the grape itself. Sweet fortified Muscats have a classic rich nose of dried fruits, raisins and oranges. Muscat has been called “the grape of the bees” because of its strong perfume.

Muskateller - Dry, spicy, tropical-fruit-toned whites from Austria and Germany.

Nebbiolo - The grape is thought to derive its name from the piedmontese word nebia which means fog. The grape is used to make wines such as Barolo, and Barbaresco.

Nebuchadnezzar - It is the largest wine bottle and holds 15 litres or 120 glasses of wine. Nebuchadnezzar, originally nabu-kudurri-usur meaning ’Nabu protect the boundary‘ became King of the Chaldean Empire in 604 BC

Nebuchadnezzar - Nebuchadnezzar is the largest wine bottle and holds 15 litres or 120 glasses of wine.

Nebuchadnezzar - Originally nabu-kudurri-usur meaning ’Nabu protect the boundary‘ became King of the Chaldean Empire in 604 BC.

Negromaro - Southern Italian red—name means “black and bitter.” Any questions?

Petite Verdot - Bordeaux blender - if it wasn’t there, you’d miss it.

Petit Verdot - Petit verdot is a variety of black grape used in the production of red wine, principally in classic Bordeaux blends. This grape is only found in any quantity in the Médoc region of Bordeaux.

Petite Sirah - A blender essential for making Zinfandel into great wine. Occasionally interesting as a varietal, now thought to be a loose confederation of some half-dozen minor French types planted together as a field blend in Sonoma, mostly 100 years ago.

Pinot Auxerrois - Crisp Alsace whites, communicating interesting mineral tones.

Pinot Blanc - Light bodied gently spiced whites from Alsace, occasionally masquerades as Weissburgunder in Germany where it makes big fat wines.

Pinot Gris /Pinot Grigio - Produces whites both sublime and ridiculous in Alsace and Italy. Very fleshy and masculine in the former, light and dry in the latter. Planted in Oregon, where it produces some of the most interesting American whites, very much after the Alsace model. The Germans usually call it Grauburgunder—they plant it in the south, in Baden, Franconia, the Pfalz.

Pinot Gris – This is typically dry white wine, but can vary widely in taste depending on where it is grown. In Italy, it tends to be a very simple, light, crisp wine, whereas in Alsace, it is fuller and more dramatic. It’s also known as Pinot Grigio in Italy and Grauburgunder in Germany. It pairs best with mildly spicy foods, salads, and sandwiches.

Pinot Noir - The brilliant - if occasionally difficult—red grape of Burgundy. Does well in California, Oregon, Germany, occasionally in Victoria. A standout in Champagne.

Pinot Noir - Pinot noir is a variety of red grape used commonly in winemaking. the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France.

Pinot Noir - Pinot Noir is one of the oldest vine grape varieties known and was named by the noble Pinot family after the pinecone shape of the grape bunches.

Pinot Meunier - Thusly named because the plant looks like the miller (Le Meunier) has been dusting the leaves with flour. Germans call it Müllerrebe for the same reason. Important third in the trio of champagne varietals, where it’s a sponge for soaking up terroir.

Pinotage - South African crossing of cinsault and pinot noir. Interesting aromatic middleweight.

Pinot Noir - Pinot Noir is one of the oldest vine grape varieties known and was named by the noble Pinot family after the pinecone shape of the grape bunches.

Pinot Noir - Pinot Noir is one of the oldest vine grape varieties known and was named by the noble Pinot family after the pinecone shape of the grape bunches. It is one of the three varieties of grapes used in Champagne, France to make the world’s most esteemed sparkling wine. It pairs best with lamb, pork, game, grilled salmon, beef stews, and coq au vin.

Primitivo - Southern Italian red genetically resonant with California’s zinfandel.

Quagliano - Makes pale red sparklers in Piemonte, and begins with “q.”

Riesling - Great white grape of Germany, Austria, Alsace - very much a magnet for earth-tones, even with all of its glorious fruit - very popular once upon a time in Australia, and occasionally offering interesting wines in California.

Riesling - The name Riesling means ‘Russ’ - dark wood and this along with the grooved bark gives the resultant root word ‘rissig’.

Riesling - The legend of sweet Riesling. A messenger bringing the official order to start picking was robbed on the way. By the time he arrived the grapes had rotted, been infected with Botrytis and were given to the peasants. The peasants brewed their own wonderful wines and the rest is history.

Riesling – Popular among connoisseurs, this grape yields softer, fuller, fruitier wines with less natural acidity, with the most refined ones coming from cooler climates. Some say it rivals Chardonnay as the world’s greatest white wine grape. It pairs best with seafood, smoked salmon and trout, duck, goose, or fish.

Roter Veltliner - Wachau-region rarity from Austria. White wine, despite the red label.

Ruländer - Name used in Germany for the grauburgunder (pinot gris) when it yields a dessert wine. Ruland was the guy who brought the grape to Germany from Burgundy.

Sangiovese/Prugnolo - The great red grape of Tuscany - Chianta, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and (as sangioveto grosso) Brunello.

Sangiovese – One of the most famous grapes in Italy, its best cultivations produce the great Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines. It is typically a very dry red wine with a smooth feel and aromas of cherry and orange peel. It pairs well with salami, ham, veal, and stronger-tasting poultry.

Sauvignon Blanc - Crisp dry whites on the Loire and from New Zealand, frequently overoaked pseudochards in California, surprisingly good in Austria’s Steiermark.

Sauvignon Blanc - The word ‘sauvignon’ comes from the French word ‘sauvage’ meaning wild which is a fitting descriptor for the intense fruit and aroma of this wine. It’s often blended with the milder Sémillon grape to counter this intensity. It pairs best with turkey, chicken, duck, shrimp, shellfish, cheese and green salad.

Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which originates from the Bordeaux region of France. It is now planted in much of the world’s winelands.

Scheurebe - 1916 crossing of Riesling and Sylvanner—German whites both dry and sweet with magnificent tropical fruit aromas, burgundian texture.

Schwarzriesling - Franconian name for Müllerrebe, which is German name for pinot meunier.

Scuppernong - Slightly obscene-sounding eastern American wild thing with fabulously proportioned vines and forgettable wines.

Semillon - Bordeaux white, prime mover of the great dessert wines of Sauternes. Good figgy-aromatic dry whites from Graves, quite interesting dry whites from Australia, where it also blends well with chardonnay.

Semillon - Semillon was at one time the most widely planted white grape in the world. The thin-skinned Semillon grape ripens early. It‘s easy to cultivate, high yielding and relatively disease resistant, except for Botrytis. In areas where sweet Semillons are highly prized, pickers go through the vineyard many times and pick only the Botrytis infected bunches which will yield syrupy sweet wines.

Seppelt - Seppelt is the most expensive current release Australian wine at is $2,500 a bottle.

Sherry - One of the oldest and most wonderful fortified wines made is a Sherry. Sherry comes from a corner of south-west Spain called Andalusia.

Sherry - The grape stompers of the finest Sherries wore boots with nails in the soles. The nails trap the pips and stalks and leave them undamaged enhancing the pure grape flavours.

Syrah/Shiraz - Oh boy! The great longliving reds of the northern Côtes-du-Rhône, frequently impressive in California, interesting in Italy, Spain and Argentina—as Shiraz the benchmark for Australian red wine, where it shows a variety of styles, from soft and fruity to world-class profound. Also grown in South Africa.

Syrah - This is the chief grape in the Rhône Valley’s finest wines and rivals Cabernet in California. Also known as Shiraz in Australia and South Africa, it is arguably the best red wine grape in Australia. It is often referred to as a virile rustic, yet refined wine. It’s best paired with dark-meat poultry, red meats, venison, and highly fragrant cheese.

Shiraz - Australian Shiraz is made in two different styles. The big, full, rich, tannin laden wines and lighter fruitier ’drink now‘ styles with lots of blackberry and raspberry.

Shiraz - A legend on Shiraz Grapes. One ancient Persian legend says that Jamshid, a grapeloving king, stored ripe grapes in a cellar so he could enjoy grapes all year long. One day he sent his slaves to fetch him some grapes. When they did not return he decided to go to the cellar himself only to find that they had been knocked out by the carbon dioxide gas emanating from some bruised fermenting grapes. One of the king’s rejected, distraught mistresses decided to drink this poisoned potion, only to leave the cellar singing and dancing in high spirits. The king realised that this fruity liquid had the wonderful and mysterious power to make sad people happy.

Syrah - Syrah, also called Shiraz, is a grape variety widely used to make a dry red table wine. Syrah is often vinified on its own, but is also frequently blended with other grape.

Tempranillo - The great red grape of Spain, seen in many guises (Cencibel, Tinta del Pais, Tinto Fino, Tinto de Toro, et al) from the more delicate medium-bodied traditional Riojas to the rich, full bodied, more Bordeaux-like Ribera del Dueros to the powerfully ripe Toros.

Tokay - The Legend of Tokay
In the mid 17th century, in Slovakia, the fall harvest of Tokay grapes was postponed fearing an attack from the Turks. This left the grapes vulnerable to a humidity-loving fungus called botrytis. The rotten and shriveled grapes were picked, crushed, and added to the must made from unaffected grapes

Trebbiano - Italian of many uses (ugni blanc in France) including the vin santo of Tuscany.

Two Buck Chuck - Distributed exclusively by Trader Joe’s grocery stores, and in California sell for $1.99. Because of this, the Charles Shaw wines are affectionately known as Two Buck Chuck. Shaw‘s 2005 California chardonnay was judged Best Chardonnay from California at the 2007 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition. The chardonnay received 98 points, a double gold, with accolades of Best of California and Best of Class.

Ugni Blanc - Used to make Armagnac in Gascony, and to make wine by people who are too impatient to make Armagnac.

Vidal Blanc - American /French white hybrid of little virtue.

Viognier - Honeysuckle, orange-rind, mango-tinged aromatics. Silky textured white on the northern Côtes du Rhône, fat and succulent in California.

Viognier – An excellent before-dinner drink, this dry white wine feels very smooth with a lively peach-apricot fruit aroma. It is one of the few white wine grapes grown in the Rhône Valley of France where a mere 30 years ago it was grown on fewer than 100 acres. Today it has made an astonishing conquest of the wine world. It pairs best with fruit, nuts, and cheese.

Viognier - Viognier is very ancient grape which originated in Dalmatia. Viognier was once a fairly common grape now it is rare white grape.

Wine & Chocolate - Daily wine and chocolate boost life expectancy. Ingredients form part of sevenfood ’polymeal‘ designed to reduce heart disease risk. A daily meal with seven foods - - including wine and chocolate -- could cut heart disease risk by 76 per cent, says a team of Australian researchers.

Wine Barrel - The wine barrel was traditionally used for storage and transportation of goods. Now it’s almost exclusively used in the production of fine wines and spirits. The barrel is traditionally referred to as a keg when empty and cask when full.

Zinfandel - The great American success story. Spicy rich complex wines, particularly in Sonoma; hulking monolithic offerings from Amador and elsewhere in the Sierra Nevada range.

Zinfandel – Although almost exclusively grown in California, it has its origins in Croatia. This grape derives from the same species as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir and can make a wide variety of wines from white to sweet Port-style. It pairs well with meat, duck, and strongly-flavored cheeses.

Zinfandel - Zinfandel is a red-skinned wine grape. Commonly referred to as “Zin”, it is popular in California for its intense fruitiness and lush texture.

Zweigelt - Austrian red, the source of many easy-quaffers, but with a bit of what almost might be considered pinot noir character.

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