You may have just discovered the health benefits of wine, or the art and science of winemaking. Perhaps your New Year’s Resolution is to go to more wine tasting fairs, learn all there is to know about good wine, or find the perfect bottle for you.
Whatever your motivation, if you fancy yourself an aspiring wine connoisseur, there are some important wine names, terms, and pronunciations you’ll need to know.
Let’s get started!
Wines are usually named after the grape used to make the wine – called varietals – or the region from which those grapes grow. Since these grapes are grown all over the world, their names can be hard to pronounce for someone not well traveled or versed in many languages.
Below is a list of well-known grape names, pronunciations, and the major countries that grow them.
Barbera – [bar-BEH-rah] – Italy
Cabernet Franc – [cab-er-nay frawnk] – France
Cabernet Sauvignon – [cab-er-nay saw-vee-nyon] – France, USA, Chile
Grenache Noir – [gren-awsh nwahr] – France
Malbec – [mahl-behk] – Argentina
Merlot – [mer-loh] – France, USA
Nebbiolo – [neh-b’YOH-loh] – Italy
Pinot Noir – [pee-noh nwahr] – France, USA, New Zealand
Pinotage – [pee-noh-TAHJ] – South Africa
Sangiovese – [san-joe-VAE-sae] – Italy
Shiraz – [shee-razz] – Australia
Syrah – [see-RAH] – France
Tempranillo – [tehm-prah-NEE-yoh] – Spain
Zinfandel – [zin-fen-del] – USA
Albariño – [ahl-bah-REE-nyoh] – Spain
Chardonnay – [shar-doh-nay] – France, USA, Australia
Chenin Blanc – [shen-in blahnk] – South Africa
Gewürztraminer – [geh-VAIRTZ-trah-mee-ner] – Germany
Palomino – [pal-oh-ME-no] – Spain
Riesling – [REESE-ling] – Germany
Sauvignon Blanc – [saw-vee-nyon blahnk] – Chile, New Zealand
Sylvaner – [syl-VAH-ner] – Germany
Viognier – [vee-oh-nyay] – France
Names of Wine Glasses
The wine tasting experience can be greatly affected by the type of glass the wine is served in. It seems like a very minor thing, but each type of wine glass has distinct characteristics that help bring out the flavor, aroma, or enhance the look and color of the wine inside.
Some may even see it as a faux pas or poor wine etiquette to serve the wrong type of wine in the wrong type of glass, so it’s good to know the names and subtle differences between them all.
Anatomy of a Wine Glass
Wine glasses are made up of three parts:
- the bowl
- the stem
- the foot
The bowl is the cup portion which holds the wine. The middle or bottom of the bowl is usually wider than the opening at the top.
The stem is the thin part of the glass attaching the bowl and the foot. This is the part of the wine glass that is supposed to be held. Holding the glass from the bowl can affect the temperature of the wine with body heat.
The foot is the flat part below the stem that lets the glass stand on its own.
Different Types For Different Wines
The different variations in stemware include standard wine glasses, flutes, coupes, and the less-popular tumblers, the latter of which has no stem.
The standard red wine glass has a wide bowl to allow the red wine to aerate easier. Aerating a wine (such as pouring it from high above the glass to maximize air exposure, or letting it sit in a decanter) can improve the flavor of a wine for a variety of reasons. To learn more, check out this lecture on the science of wine.
Standard white wine glasses tend to be smaller than red wine glasses. The smaller surface air exposure afforded by the narrower opening and bowl allows chilled white wine to stay cold.
Flutes are usually used for champagne, which is carbonated. The narrow, tube-shaped bowl helps retain carbonation, and also keep the chilled champagne cold.
Coupes are very broad, with short bowls, usually used for champagne, but largely replaced by the champagne flute due to its width, which allows for the carbonation to dissipate more quickly. It’s still used at events like weddings to create champagne towers.
Tumblers are not as popular for wine, because there’s no stem to hold.
Popular Red Wine Names
There are so many different types of wines, you probably won’t be able to remember them all right away. Knowing each name by heart isn’t as important as learning by experience, but it helps to be aware of some common wine names you might see pop up the most, and know how to pronounce them.
Bardolino – [bar-doh-lee-no] – Veronese red wine.
Barolo – [ba-ro-lo] – Heavy, tannic wine from Piedmont.
Chianti – [k’yahn-tee] – Primarily made with Sangiovese grapes, from Tuscany.
Falerno – [fa-lair-no] – Made in Campania, the same region that produced the renowned Falernian wine of ancient Rome.
Frascati – [fra-ska-tee] – From Latium, Italy.
Grumello – [groo-mel-lo] – From Valtellina, Italy.
Inferno – [een-fair-no] – Also from Valtellina, Italy.
Lambrusco – [lahm-broo-sko] – Sweet red wine from Emilia in Italy.
Passe-tous-Grains – [pahss-too-greng] – Made from Gamay and Pinot Noir.
Sassella – [sahs-sel-la] – From Valtellina, Italy.
Valpolicella – [vahl-po-lee-chel-la] – From Verona, Italy.
Popular White Wine Names
Asti Spumante – [ah-stee spoo-mahn-tee] – Sparkling wine from Piedmont.
Bianco Toscano – [b’yahn-ko tohs-ka-no] – Dry wine from Tuscany.
Lacryma Christi – [la-kree-ma kree-stee] – Sparkling wine from Campania.
Macon Blanc – [ma-kohng blohng] – From Cote Maconnais.
Macon-Villages – [ma-kohng vee-lahzh] – Fine wine from Cote Maconnais.
Orvieto Abbocatto – [orv-yay-toh ahb-bo-ka-toh] – Fruity wine from Umbria.
Orvieto Secco – [orv-yay-toh sek-ko] – Also from Umbria, but drier.
Pouilly-Fuisse – [poo-yee fwee-say] – From Cote Maconnais.
Saumur – [so-mur] – Famous wine from Loire Valley in France.
Soave – [so-ah-vay] – From Verona, Italy.
Verdicchio – [vair-deek-yo] – Pale wine from Marche in Italy.
Vino dell’Elba – [vee-no del el-ba] – Light wine from Tuscany.
Vouvray – [voov-ray] – Also the name of a French region in the Loire Valley.