Share

Answer: False.

While the two words are often used interchangeably to refer to especially prized soils in certain places (like parts of Champagne, Burgundy and the Loire Valley), the two are not exactly the same. Chalk is a type of limestone, but not all limestone is chalk. Limestone is a marine sedimentary rock made in part from marine skeletons that are high in calcium. Chalk, along with marl and marble, is a type of limestone. Chalk is soft and porous, so vine roots penetrate it easily.

Share

Answer: True.

Bordeaux has several classification systems, including the most famous—the 1855 Classification which ranked the 60 top châteaux of the Médoc and one château—Haut-Brion—in Graves. However, the famous commune of Pomerol (where, among other great estates, Château Pétrus is located) was never classified.

Share

Answer: False.

Liebfraubmilch is a style of German semi-sweet white wine that can come from the Pfalz, Rheinhessen, or Nahe regions (and from the Rheingau too although today, real estate there is too value for much if any Liebfraumilch to be produced). The grapes typically used in the blend are silvaner, müller-thurgau, and kerner. Some producers also use riesling. In the U.S., Blue Nun was one of the most well-known producers of the wine (although Blue Nun no longer produces Liebfraumilch). Liebfraumilch wines have been perceived as low quality, even though they are classified as Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete (QbA). The name Liebfraumilch by the way means, “milk of Our Blessed Lady.”

Share

Answer: False.

Franciacorta is a region in Lombardy in northern Italy, famous for its sparkling wines. The sophisticated, dry sparkling wines, made by the traditional Champagne method from chardonnay and pinot noir (and sometimes pinot blanc), are austerely elegant with a fine, creamy mousse of bubbles. Franciacortas come as nonvintage wines as well as vintage-dated (known as Franciacorta millesimato) and, like Champagne, they spend a relatively long time on lees―18 months for non-vintage to 60 months for Franciacorta riserva.

Share

Answer: False.

Despite the word riesling in its name, welschriesling (pronounced: WELSH-rees-ling) is not directly related to riesling at all. In Burgenland, Austria, welschriesling is used to make delicious late-harvest, botrytized wines. In Hungary, it’s known as graševina and olasz rizling. In Italy, it’s known as riesling italico. There are numerous grapes with the word riesling in their names that are not riesling. These include: cape riesling in South Africa and emerald riesling in the U.S. (The latter is a cross of muscadelle and garnacha developed at the University of California at Davis).

Share

Answer: True.

To maintain the intensity, balance, and richness, Vintage Port is neither fined nor filtered. This, coupled with the fact that Port grapes have thick skins and a lot of tannin, means that Vintage Port throws a great deal of sediment, and always needs to be decanted.

Share

Answer: False.

With Cava and Champagne, bubbles are the result of a second fermentation that takes place inside each bottle. Virtually all Prosecco (basic and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore) are made by the Charmat process whereby the second bubble-inducing fermentation takes place inside tanks. (This process is sometimes called “Charmat-Martinotti” since it was first developed in 1895 by Italy’s Federico Martinotti and a decade later, adapted and modified by the Frenchman Eugène Charmat). The result is a bright, fruit-forward, fresh-tasting sparkler that minimizes yeasty flavors.  That said, a small number of Prosecco Superiore producers have returned to an ancient method called Col Fondo, whereby the second fermentation takes place in bottles but the yeasts are never removed. Kind of like the Prosecco version of Pétillant Naturel.

Share

Answer: False.

While I love blue cheese, I usually don’t pair it with red wine. Extremely salty and pungent, blue cheese’s aggressive, palate-coating flavors strip the flavor of virtually all dry red wines, making them taste insipid and washed-out. Just about the only wine that has the intensity and body to counterbalance a blue cheese’s forceful character is a powerhouse like Port, because it is both sweet and fortified. The combination has been considered a European classic for centuries. (For more on pairing cheeses with wines, watch my video on wine and cheese parings here).

Share

Answer: False.

Petite sirah, also known as durif, has an enormous amount of tannin. The variety is a cross between two French grapes—syrah and peloursin. Petite Sirah was crossed in the 1860s, by a scientist named Durif and is sometimes spelled petite syrah. Petite sirah grapes are generally smaller than syrah grapes (hence the “petite” in the name). As with all small grapes, petite sirah has a high ratio of skin to juice. Since tannin comes primarily from a grape’s skin, small grapes like petite sirah often have a considerable amount of tannin. In the end, there is nothing petite about petite sirah. A similar example is petit verdot (petit in this case is spelled without the “e” since the word verdot is masculine). There’s nothing petit about petit verdot either.

Share

Answer: False.

Calvados (pronounced CAL-va-dose) is a distilled spirit made from apples (and sometimes pears) grown in Normandy, France. Approximately 800 or so heirloom apple varieties are grown in Normandy—the only region which, by law, can make Calvados. By distilling different kinds of apples in different proportions, Calvados makers are able to craft a subtle, complex apple spirit. About 17 pounds of apples are needed to make one bottle of Calvados.

Share

Answer: True.

While pinot noir is grown across New Zealand, the majority is planted on the South Island. Approximately half of that pinot is grown in Marlborough, located on the northernmost end of the South Island, with the rest grown in Central Ortago towards the southern end. In general, Marlborough pinot noirs appear to be the fruitier of the two, with nuanced red fruit flavors, and are often made into sparkling wines. Central Ortago pinots, on the other hand, often display an earthiness and wild herb character, which places them stylistically between Old World and New World pinot noirs.

Share

Answer: True.

Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region northeast of Tuscany is most known for a simple, frothy (or frizzante) wine called lambrusco. Many lambruscos are highly commercial and slightly sweet, made fizzy by being fermented in pressurized tanks (not by the traditional—or Champagne—method). However, there are top versions of lambrusco that are not sweet but, rather, dry and savory, and made by the Champagne method of second fermentation in each bottle. Not surprisingly, the fizzy, slightly bitter, very fresh wine tastes quite good with Emilia-Romagna’s hearty sausages, cured meats, and meat-sauced pastas. (Also, today is World Lambrusco Day! We recommend celebrating by opening a bottle with Emilia-Romagna’s famous food delicacies: Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and prosciutto di Parma).
Share

Answer: False.

False. Sercial is the driest style of Madeira with 0% to 6% residual sugar. The sweetest style, malmsey, has 10% or more residual sugar. Madeira’s sweetness designations in ascending order are: sercial, verdelho, terrantez, bual, and malmsey. These are also the names of the grapes from which each style is made. Sercial grapes specifically are grown in the coolest vineyards and the difficulties they encounter in ripening make for tangy, elegant Madeiras with a bracing, crisp, almost salty grip and a dry, nutty flavor.
Share

Answer: True.

In honor of National Rosé Day tomorrow, we thought we’d look at the history of rosé—including the pink wine known as white zinfandel. The first white zinfandel was made at El Pinal Winery in Lodi, California, by George West exactly 150 years ago in 1869. Arguably, however, the first winery to popularize white zinfandel was Sutter Home Winery in the 1970s. Sutter Home’s white zin was made by accident in 1972 when a fermentation stalled, and the grapes’ sugar was not completely converted to alcohol. Thus, the resulting pinkish-colored wine was slightly sweet. This "white zinfandel" was released to the market as cheap and easy to drink. During the 1980s and 1990s, white zin outsold regular red zinfandel wines 6-to-1 and was at one time, the third most popular wine in the U.S. by volume, according to Los Angeles Magazine.
Share

Answer: True.

While you might imagine that Washington State or Oregon was home to most of the first wineries in the Pacific Northwest, it's actually Idaho. German and French immigrants planted grapes there as early as 1864. In fact, an article in the Idaho Statesman from September 1865 reported that a vineyard of Royal Muscadine cuttings was planted a year previously. However, as was the case with so many states, Prohibition took a debilitating toll on the industry and brought production to a halt. Idaho's modern wine industry went through a revival in the 1970s, and there are now 52 wineries in the state, with 1300 acres of vineyards, according to the Idaho Wine Commission.
Share

Answer: False.

The Pedro Ximénez grapes used to make the sweet, ebony-colored Sherry, also known as Pedro Ximénez, achieve their concentration by being dried on straw mats in the intense Spanish sun for about a week, not by the beneficial fungus, botrytis cinerea. The mats are covered at night, so the grapes are spared from the morning dew. Once made and aged in a solera, the wine will be 40 to 50 percent residual sugar—that’s more than three times the sweetness of Bordeaux’s Sauternes. The result is an elixir that is so mesmerizing you just have to try it.
Share

Answer: False.

Maybe. Okay, we know that “maybe” isn’t exactly true or false, but it’s not definitely clear where a chocolatey or cocoay character in wine comes from. Some of the experts I’ve talked to do say that oak barrels that are toasted at a certain level produce chocolatey flavors in red wine (barrel fermented or barrel aged whites usually don’t display chocolatiness). But other experts note that chocolate flavors can simply be a characteristic of very ripe high-tannin grapes such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot. And still others associate the flavor with a given terroir. (The wines of Rutherford in the Napa Valley are often said to possess a dutched cocoa character). What everyone does agree on is where a vanilla flavor in wine comes from. When most oak barrels are made, the wood is toasted over a fire in order to bend the staves into shape. Toasting causes complex chemical reactions in the wood that result in the creation of various flavors, among them vanillin, a molecule responsible for the flavor known as vanilla. Wines that are not made or aged in new toasted oak barrels almost never taste of vanilla.
Share

Answer: False.

Only a very small amount of top German sekt (pronounced zecht) is made in tiny lots by the traditional (Champagne) method, usually from riesling, weissburgunder (pinot blanc), or blauburgunder (pinot gris). These wines are crisp and vivid, possessing the clarity and the purity of flute music. However, bargain sekt (which is most of it) is made fizzy as the result of the bulk process during which the second fermentation takes place in large, pressurized tanks, not in individual bottles like Champagne, using lesser German grapes or bulk wine from another European country.
Share

Answer: False.

There are three quality categories of Beaujolais wine, in ascending order: Beaujolais, Beaujolais-Villages, and Beaujolais Cru, which is the highest quality of the region’s wine. There are ten villages—or crus—that run from north to south in Beaujolais: St.-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. The labels on bottles of Beaujolais Cru will usually name the producer and the cru only. The word Beaujolais won’t appear. (We love how helpful labels are, don't we?)