A few weeks ago we attended the annual members concert @ Chateau Ste. Michelle. It is always wonderful and our daughters Fiona and Liesel attended which is always a blessing. One of the great wines of the evening was a Gewürztraminer. While we compared tastes, nobody could comfortably pronounce this wine, with the exception of Fiona. I laughed as she accentuated the syllables and it was just plain fun!
Before the music began, I stood in line to purchase a few extra bottles for the duration of the evening. Of course I asked for some Tempestade but for the life of me, could not get the word Gewürztraminer out of my lips. I simply said wine that begins with the letter “G”.
Now I am not promoting perfect pronunciation to impress your friends or those snobs in the tasting rooms. Take the time to at least learn how to say some key words that will best prepare you to order the right glass or bottle. At least you can order more of a variety, rather than only sticking to the ones you can pronounce.
Below is a partial list of words that will come in handy. Enjoy and learn!
BIG FAT WINE PRONUNCIATION GUIDE
A phonetic breakdown of popular wines, grapes, and wine terms
- Albariño[al-bah-ree-nyoh] Albariño or Alvarinho is a variety of white wine grape grown in Galicia (northwest Spain) and Monção (northwest Portugal), where it is used to make varietal white wines.
- Armagnanc[ahr-mahn-YAK] is made from grapes of the Armagnac region in Southwest France (Gers, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne). It is single continuous distilled in a copper stills and is aged in oaken casks from Gascony or Limousin. Armagnac was the first distilled spirit in France
- Barbera[bar-BEH-rah] Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano).
- Beaujolais[boh-zhuh-LAY] Beaujolais is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins. Like most AOC wines they are not labeled varietally.
- Bordeaux[bohr-DOH] Major wine region of Southwestern France, along the Dordogne and Garonne rivers. Centered around the city of Bordeaux.
- Brut [BROOT] A general term used to describe dry sparkling white wine
- Cabernet Franc[KA-behr-nay FRAHN (FRAHNGH)] A red grape common to Bordeaux; characteristics include an herbal, leafy flavor and a soft, fleshy texture.
- Cabernet Sauvignon[ka-behr-NAY so vihn-YOHN (soh-vee-NYAWN)] One of the noblest red wine grapes, used in Bordeaux , USA, Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and wherever wine grapes grow. The predominant red grape variety in the world.
- Cava[KAH-vah] A Spanish sparkling wine typically produced in the Penedès region of Catalonia.
- Chablis [sha-BLEE; shah-BLEE] A very dry white Burgundy wine originally from east-central France.
- Chardonnay[shar-dn-AY; shar-doh-NAY] A variety of grape used to make white wine, including champagne and white Burgundy.
- Châteauneauf-du-Pape[shah-toh-nuhf-doo-PAHP] is a town and commune in the Vaucluse département in Provence, in southern France. Its name derives from a castle built by the Popes when they ruled from Avignon.
- Chenin Blanc[SHUH-ihn BLAHN (BLAHNGK) A grape of French origin that produces excellent white wines. It has proven itself highly productive in California.
- Colombard[KAHL-hm-bahrd (Fr. Kaw-lawn-BAHR)] A productive French grape that produces a dry and full-bodied good quality white wine.
- Côtes du Rhone[koht deu ROHN] (Banks of the Rhône) is a wine-growing Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) for the Rhône wine region of France, which may be used throughout the region, also in those areas which are covered by other AOCs.
- Cuvée[koo-VAY] Like the words cask and reserve, cuvee is an unregulated term that some wineries use to indicate a special (or reserve) batch of wine.
- Fumé Blanc[FOO-may BLAHN; BLAHNGK] A term coined by Robert Mondavi for California wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape in the style of those made of Pouilly Fumé in the Loire Valley of France.
- Gewürztraminer[guh-vurts-TRAH-MEE-NER] White wine grape best known in Alsace, Germany and the US West Coast. Grows best where there is morning fog and milder climates. Can be bone dry to semi-sweet with 3.5 or more sugar. Marries well with spicy foods.
- Grenache[gruh-NAHSH] The Grenache is grown in southern France, where it is partly responsible for the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, and many others. It is the mainstay of Rioja, makes port-style and light rose wines in California, and is also grown in South Africa.
- Kir[KEER] Kir is a popular French cocktail made with a measure of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) topped up with white wine.
- Madeira[muh-DEER-uh] A Portuguese fortified wine that is treated with heat as it ages, giving it a distinctive flavor and brownish color.
- Malbec[mahl-behk] Red wine grape used as a nominal element of the Bordeaux blend, where its intense color and extract add to the wine’s body. Also used as a primary grape in the inky red wines of Cahors and in some Argentine reds.
- Merlot[mehr-LOH; mer-LOH] Merlot is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird, merlot, a diminutive of merle, the blackbird (Turdus merula), probably from the color of the grape.
- Muscat[MUHS-kat; MUHS-kuht] The muscat family of grapes of the species Vitis vinifera is widely grown for wine, raisins and table grapes. Their color ranges from white to near black. Muscat almost always has a pronounced sweet floral aroma.
- Petite Sirah; Petite Syrah[peh-TEET sih-RAH; peh-TEET see-RAH] Often confused with “real” Syrah, most believe it is actually the lowly French grape, Durif. It has, regardless, turned out some good California examples in both dry and sweet styles
- Pinot Blanc[PEE-noh BLAHN (BLAHNGK)] A white wine grape which makes a dry, full white wine. A good alternate to Chardonnay. Usually less oak than a Chard, since it is rarely fermented in wood but rather in stainless steel tanks. One often denotes scents of melon in Pinot Blanc.
- Pinot Gris[PEE-noh GREE] Pinot gris is a white wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot noir grape, it normally has a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name (“gris” meaning “grey” in French) but the grape can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance.
- Pinot Noir[PEE-noh NWAHR] Pinot noir is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines produced predominantly from Pinot noir grapes.
- Pouilly-Fuissé[poo-yee fwee-SAY] Pouilly-Fuissé is an appellation (AOC) for white wine in the Mâconnais subregion Burgundy in central France, located in the communes of Fuissé, Solutré-Pouilly, Vergisson and Chaintré. Pouilly-Fuissé has Chardonnay as the only grape variety.
- Prosecco [praw-SEHK-koh; proh-SEHK-koh] Prosecco is an Italian wine — generally a dry sparkling wine — made from a variety of white grape of the same name. The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.
- Riesling [REEZ-ling; REES-ling] Riesling is a white grape variety which originates in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines.
- Rioja[ree-oh-hah] Rioja is a wine, with Denominación de Origen Calificada (D.O.C. Qualified designation of origin) named after La Rioja, in Spain. Rioja is made from grapes grown not only in the Autonomous Community of La Rioja, but also in parts of Navarre and the Basque province of Álava.
- Rosé [roh-ZAY] A rosé (From French: rosé, ‘pinkish’) wine has some of the color typical of a red wine, but only enough to turn it pink. The pink color can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques.
- Sancerre[sahn-SEHR] Sancerre is a French wine Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) for wine produced in the environs of Sancerre in the eastern part of the Loire valley, southeast of Orléans. Almost all of the appellation lies on the left bank of the Loire, opposite Pouilly-Fumé.
- Sangiovese [san-joh-VAY-zeh; san-jaw-VAY-zeh] This red is the predominant grape in Chianti. Makes a hearty, dry red, with flavors of black cherries.
- Sauternes[soh-TEHRN] Sauternes is a French dessert wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section in Bordeaux. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot.
- Sauvignon Blanc[SOH-vihn-yohn BLAHN; SOH-vee-nyawn BLAHNGK] Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape gets its name from the French word sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France.
- Semillon[say-mee-YHON; she-mee-YOHN] Prevalent in France’s Bordeaux region, Semillon is a white wine varietal that’s often found in a blend with Sauvignon Blanc, a unique combination responsible for the region’s dry white wines and their famed sweet dessert wines from Sauternes
- Sommelier [sum-muhl-YAY] A sommelier (, ), or wine steward, is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, commonly working in fine restaurants, who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching. The role is more specialized and informed than that of a wine waiter.
- Syrah[see-RAH] Syrah, originally from Rhne area of France, also known as Shiraz which succeeds admirably in Australia.
- Terroir [teh-RWAHR] French term which has no simple translation into English. It refers to the external influences on the ripening grapes, including the soils (depth and type), bedrock, exposure to sun and wind, water table and so on.
- Verdelho [vehr-DEH-lyoh] Verdelho is a white wine grape grown throughout Portugal, though most associated with the island of Madeira, and also gives its name to one of the four main types of Madeira wine. At the turn of the 20th century it was the most widely planted white grape in Madeira
- Verdicchio [vehr-KEEK-kyoh] A classic Italian variety of the Marche on the eastern coast of Italy, Verdicchio produces bright, lemony wines with high natural acidity.
- Viognier[vee-oh-NYAY] The classic (though rare) white grape of the northern Rhone Valley of France where it makes the expensive wine known as Condrieu. In the early 1990s, more than thirty top California producers began making viognier to much acclaim.
- Majority of definitions gathered from Wiktionary.org