Share

A. South Africa; chenin blanc (aka steen)

B. South Island of New Zealand; pinot noir

C. Australia; chardonnay

D. Peru; criolla chica (aka pais) and cabernet sauvignon

C.

Tumbarumba may not be as famous or as large as the Barossa, but it is indeed a wine region in Australia, specifically in the state of New South Wales. The nearby Snowy Mountains rise up 2100 feet. One of the cooler regions in Australia, Tumbarumba is now a source for cool-climate chardonnay grapes. Penfold’s “Bin 311” Chardonnay ($40), for example, is made in part from grapes from Tumbarumba and another cool region, Tasmania. Bin 311—unlike the stereotypical Aussie chardonnay—could easily be confused with French Chablis.

Share

A. Marsanne, Counoise, Malmsey Madeira, Chardonnay

B. Barzac, Oloroso Sherry, Assyrtiko, Eiswein

C. Fino Sherry, Semillon, Albariño, Savennières

D. Riesling, Tokaji, Amarone, Beaumes-de-Venise

C.

Answer: C. This question might have been a bit hard because the “best serving temperature” is somewhat personal. In general, fortified wines like Malmsey Madeira and Oloroso Sherry are considered best—not when well chilled—but rather, at “cellar” temperature (in the mid-60s F.) Sweet wines (Barzac, Eiswein, Tokaji, and Beaumes-de-Venise) are usually served on the cool side, but again, not super chilled. However, option C above lists wines that pretty much everyone agrees are best when served well chilled—Fino (a crisp, dry style of Sherry) the white wines Semillon and Albariño, and the French (Loire) white Savennières which is made from chenin blanc grapes.

Share

A. A Japanese grape that belongs to the Vitis family

B. A method used in making fine sake

C. The Japanese term for light-bodied wines that match well with raw fish dishes

D. A type of oak grown in parts of Japan and Mongolia which is used, along with French oak, in the production of some top Chinese wines

A.

The Japanese grape koshu is used in making the light-bodied, fresh-tasting white wine also known as koshu. Koshu is a hybrid that occurred spontaneously in Nature. Scientists hypothesize that it was brought to Japan more than 1000 years ago by traders from the Caucasus traveling east on the Silk Road. The grapes themselves are an unusual, bright magenta-pink color, and don’t quite look like most standard wine grapes. Indeed, koshu is thought to have one European Vitis vinifera parent and one parent from an Asian Vitis species.  The wine is very light in body and low in alcohol. I find it reminiscent of a light riesling in its crispness, or albariño in its faint citrusy/peachy flavors. Because koshu is a delicate grape and because Japan’s climate is hot and humid, making koshu wine is difficult and labor intensive. The Japanese are extremely proud of it, and some top producers are now said to be considering exporting to the U.S. and Europe.

Share

A. Viognier

B. Chenin Blanc

C. Chardonnay

D. Mauzac

A.

Viognier is a major grape of the Languedoc region, but cannot be used to make Limoux’s famous sparkling. By law, Blanquette de Limoux is made with at least 90% mauzac, with chenin blanc and chardonnay added if desired. It is made by the traditional (Champagne) method and aged sur lie for a minimum of nine months. Interestingly, blanquette is the Occitan word for the mauzac grape and also refers to the dusty, white, powdery appearance of the leaves on mauzac vines. (Occitan is the historic language of southern France).

Share

A. Spätlese, Auslese, Kabinett, Trockenbeerenauslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein

B. Kabinett, Auslese, Spätlese, Beerenauslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, Eiswein

C. Trockenbeerenauslese, Beerenauslese, Auslese, Spätlese, Kabinett, Eiswein

D. Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein, Trockenbeerenauslese

D.

The correct order of ripeness—from least to most ripe when grapes are picked—is Kabinett (pronounced CAB-i-net), Spätlese (SCHPATE-lay-zeh), Auslese (OWSCH-lay-zeh), Beerenauslese (Bear-en-OWSCH-lay-zeh), Eiswein (ICE-vine), and Trockenbeerenauslese (TRAUK-en-bear-en-OWSCH-lay-zeh). Historically, because the climate was so marginal, fine German wines were categorized along two dimensions—ripeness and sweetness. While related, these two concepts are very different from one another. Sweetness is measured by the residual sugar in the final wine, unlike ripeness which is determined at the point when the grapes are picked. One final note: although the grapes for most eiswein are picked at a ripeness level that just exceeds beernauslese, in certain years, grapes for eiswein may achieve a ripeness level that surmounts even trockenbeerenauslese. However, such years are not the norm, and uber-ripe eiswein can be so fleshy that it lacks the pristine beauty eiswein is known for.

Share

A. Recioto di Valpolicella

B. Bardolino

C. Torcolato

D. Amarone

B.

Wow, this was a tough question, right? Bardolino is one of the most important simple wines of Italy’s Veneto region, but it is not made by the appassimento method. Recioto di Valpolicella, Torcolato, and amarone are all produced this way. The appassimento method involves taking whole bunches of grapes and spreading them on mats in special drying rooms or leaving them to hang in cool lofts, usually for a few months. This allows the water in the grapes to evaporate and their sugars to concentrate. As the grapes dry and raisinate, they can lose up to a third of their weight. Both dry and sweet wines can be made using this process, the best known being dry red amarone and the sweet red recioto di Valpolicella.

Share

A. Sherry

B. Madeira

C. Port

D. Eiswein

C.

Unlike Sherry or Madeira which can be fortified before or after primary fermentation is completed, Port is fortified with neutral grape spirits (clear brandy) before fermentation is complete. Once Port grapes are crushed, the soupy mass is poured into a tank so that fermentation can begin to turn the grapes’ sugars to alcohol. About thirty-six hours into the process, when about half the natural sugar has been converted into alcohol, fermentation must be stopped. To do so, clear brandy with an alcoholic strength of 77 percent (about 150 proof) is added to the Port. The alcohol in the brandy causes the yeasts in the wine to die, and fermentation subsides. The result is a sweet wine with about 7 percent residual sugar and fortified to about 20 percent alcohol.

Share

A. Grapes coming into contact with beeswax during the aging process in special vats called qvevri 

B. The coloration of the special clone of pinot gris grapes that can be used to make orange wine

C. Fermented oranges added to the wine during aging

D. The juice from a variety of white grapes is fermented with the skins and stems when the wine is made

D.

In making so-called “orange wine”, rather than removing skins after white grapes are pressed (as is common when making white wine), the juice is fermented in contact with the skins and stems. During the enzymatic breakdown that follows long contact with skins and stems, juice that was formerly white is turned orange. This not only contributes to orange wine’s vivid hue, but also adds tannin as it does with red wine. Orange wine can trace its roots to the Republic of Georgia where it has been made for over 6,000 years, often in qvevri (pronounced KEV-ree), which are large clay pots that are used for fermentation. After being sealed (often with beeswax), qvevri are buried and left underground for about six months.

Share

A. Australia

B. Japan

C. New Zealand

D. South Africa

C.

New Zealand is located midway between the equator and the South Pole, about 1,000 miles from Australia to the northwest. Due to the islands’ proximity to the International Date Line (IDL), New Zealand’s vineyards are the first to see the sun every day. The IDL, which was established in 1884, runs from the North to the South Poles, zigzagging to avoid cutting two nations into two different calendar days.

Share

A. Bordeaux, France

B. Columbia Valley, Washington, USA

C. Mendoza, Argentina

D. Central Otago, New Zealand

A.

Bordeaux, France. Bordeaux, about an hour’s drive inland from the Atlantic Ocean, is made up of relatively flat land. A rain shadow effect is the term used to describe the situation whereby a dry, often desert-like, side of a mountain rarely receives wind and rain. This occurs when the mountain range is high enough to block a rain-producing weather system from passing over to the other side of the mountain. Because of Bordeaux’s topography, a rain shadow effect is nonexistent. The other regions—Columbia Valley, Mendoza, and Central Otago—all experience rain shadow effect because they are all located on the side of the mountain that does not receive rain. They are in the “rain shadow.”