A. Prestige Cuvées

B. Grand Marques

C. Blanc de Blancs

D. Premier Grand Crus


About 40% of all the Champagne sold this year will be sold over the next three months, so it’s a good time to brush up on Champagne terminology. Proprietary names like La Grande Dame, Cristal and Comtes de Champagne are the names that Champagne Houses give to their very top wines which are known as prestige cuvées. The grapes for a prestige cuvee come from the best (and highest-rated) vineyards the House has access to, and the wines usually spend a very long time on the yeast lees–sometimes as much as ten years. As a result, prestige cuvées are usually both a) exquisite and b) expensive. La Grande Dame, Cristal and Comtes de Champagne are the prestige cuvées of Veuve Clicquot, Roederer and Taittinger respectively.


A. Chardonnay Greek Yogurt

B. Cheese M & Ms

C. Pink Chocolate

D. Cabernet IPA (Beer)


Move over dark, milk and white, a fourth type of chocolate has arrived–pink. The rosy hued chocolate is the invention of Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut who believe the “berry fruitiness and luscious smoothness” may appeal to “hedonistic millennials.” The product, which Callebaut calls “ruby chocolate,” is made from Ruby Cacao beans which grow in Ecuador, Brazil and the Ivory Coast. (No red food coloring or berry flavoring is added). As far as we know, Cabernet IPA and Chardonnay Yogurt are still waiting to be created, as are Cheese M & Ms—although Cheesecake M & Ms have already made their debut. You can buy them on Amazon.


A. Several vineyards in Sancerre

B. Château d’Yquem

C. Spanish missionaries

D. The town of Pouilly Fumé in the Loire Valley


In California, sauvignon blanc’s history dates back to the late 1800’s when a journalist turned winemaker named Charles Wetmore planted cuttings from Château d’Yquem in his vineyards in Livermore. Before founding the historic Cresta Blanca winery (no longer in existence), Wetmore convinced the California state legislature to establish a state viticultural commission. As the commission’s first president, he traveled to prestigious wine estates throughout of Europe, collecting cuttings to bring back to California. Today, sauvignon blanc is the fourth-leading white wine variety in California behind chardonnay, French colombard, and pinot gris.


A. A 16th century Spanish romance novel

B. A Native American phrase meaning bountiful land

C. A presidio of the same name in the Mexican state of Sonora

D. An early religious text used by Franciscan missionaries


A. The name California was used officially in Spanish documents as early as 1542. It comes from a description of a fabled, gold-laden island called California in the popular Spanish romance novel Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián) by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. The island was ruled by a warrior queen named Queen Califia who ruled over a kingdom of black women. Some historians believe that the early Spanish explorers who moved north from Mexico may have thought that what is now California was an island.


A. Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG

B. Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG

C. Valpolicella DOC

D. All of the above


Recioto is a sweet wine that is made from dried grapes. All of the grapes above—Amarone della Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella, and Valpolicella—are made primarily from corvina, rondinella, and molinara grapes in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. Valpolicella is a table wine made in the normal manner. Amarone and Recioto are made from dried or partially dried grapes (a process known as appassimento). But Amarone is full-bodied dry wine with a high alcohol content, while Recioto is a sweet wine with a high residual sugar content. We know, it’s complicated. Hey, it’s Italian.


A. Volatilized

B. Maderized

C. Caramelized

D. Autolyzed


Maderized is the term for a wine that has been subject to a long period of heat. The best-known example is Madeira, a wine that is both maderized and oxidized. Historically in the case of Madeira, the wine was stored for decades in producers’ attics which built up tremendous heat under the Madeiran sun. Today, Madeira wine is more commonly heated slowly in tanks (a process known as estufagem) until it reaches temperatures as high as 130 degrees F.  Needless to say, table wines should not be maderized.


A. kékfrankos, sauvignon blanc, primitivo, and garganega

B. zweigelt, sauvignon gris, bonarda, colombard

C. st. laurent, sauvignonasse, plavac mali, and gros manseng

D. blaufränkisch, friulano, tribidrag, and ugni blanc


What’s called lemberger in New York State is known as blaufränkisch in Austria and kékfrankos in Hungary. Sauvignon vert, which is widely grown in Chile, is distinct from sauvignon blanc; sauvignon vert’s synonyms include sauvignonasse and friulano. Zinfandel is the same grape as primitivo in Italy and tribidrag in Croatia. Originally from Italy, trebbiano Toscano is called ugni blanc in the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France. Whew.


A. Bâttonage

B. Extended lees contact

C. Malolactic fermentation

D. Oak aging


While many people think that buttery flavors in wine are derived from new oak, they are actually the result of diacetyl, which is a by-product of malolactic fermentation. (For its part, malolactic fermentation is the process by which crisp malic acid in wine is converted to softer lactic acid). Chardonnays that have undergone malolactic fermentation often have considerable diacetyl and therefore a pronounced buttery taste. Bâttonage means lees stirring in French, from bâton French for stick.


A. valdiguié, albariño, torrontés, parellada

B. albariño, malagousia, pinot grigio, canaiolo

C. grillo, macabeo, riesling, ribolla gialla

D. touriga nacional, trebbiano, sémillon, chenin blanc


All of the above are white varietals except valdiguié, canaiolo, and touriga nacional. A variety from southwestern France now virtually extinct there, valdiguié is grown in tiny amounts in California where it used to be known as Napa gamay. Grown all over Central Italy, canaiolo is a permitted grape for Chianti Classico. Portuguese touriga nacional is a key grape for Port production.


A. Eight times larger than the Napa Valley

B. Two times larger than the Napa Valley

C. About the same size as the Napa Valley

D. Half as big as the Napa Valley


Bordeaux is one of the largest fine wine regions in the world. By comparison, the Napa Valley is tiny. With fewer than 50,000 acres of vines, Napa Valley produces just 4 percent of all the wine made in California.