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Answer: True.

With 42 DOCs (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and 17 DOCGs (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), Piedmont has the largest number of DOC/G wines in Italy.  The region is considered among the best when it comes to wine quality. Piedmont was one of the first regions in Italy to focus on single-vineyard wines and the region wins the highest number of important wine awards per year of any region in Italy. (Tuscany is the only other region that comes close).

 

New True or False questions are posted every Thursday on my Facebook & Twitter pages.

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Answer: False.

Both sparkling wines and Champagne can be “corked”—that is, tainted with TCA, the chemical that creates a funky odor that makes wines smell like a wet dog sitting on wet newspapers in a damp cellar. In fact, according to the French consulting oenologist and TCA expert Dr. Pascal Chatonnet, TCA is actually easier to smell in sparkling wines than in still wines. This is because sparklers are more aromatically delicate and also because the bubbles have the effect of volatilizing the compound, that is, making it smell more pronounced. 

According to Dr. Chatonnet, TCA can be smelled in still wines at a threshold of 2 to 5 nanograms per liter, whereas TCA can be smelled in sparklers at a threshold of 1 to 1.5 nanograms per liter.

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Answer: False.

False. True Port is a sweet fortified wine that must come from the Douro Valley of northern Portugal, in the same way that true Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France. The Ports produced in the Douro are majestic-deep, complex, rich, thick, and thoroughly hedonistic-and considered among the most sophisticated wines in the world. In California, sweet fortified wines are made, but they aren’t Port. Confusingly, many of these wines used to be called “Port,” and some still are, despite the fact that in 2006, the United States Tax and Trade Bureau recognized the international agreement prohibiting domestic producers from using the generic terms “Port” or “Port-style” on fortified wine labels.

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Answer: False.

The wine industry in the U.S. alone is a huge industry valued at close to $20 billion and employing some 2 million people.  Within the industry are dozens of occupations from finance and human resources, to viticulture and quality control, to sales and marketing, to education and communications. Most of these jobs don’t require a sommelier certification. That said, the people who buy wine professionally and create and manage wine programs in the hospitality industry (sommeliers), are a key part of the wine industry. Currently, there are some 11,000 people who have passed the Certified Sommelier Examination and 172 who are certified at the highest level, as “Master Sommeliers” by the Court of Master Sommeliers in the Americas.

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Answer: True.

Although the Napa Valley is a small region and produces just 4% of all California wine, it does lead in cabernet acreage. According to the California Agricultural Statistics Service, Napa had 21,665 acres of cabernet sauvignon as of 2018. Second in line was San Luis Obispo County (which includes Paso Robles) with 14,752 acres. Yes, Sonoma is third with 12,478 acres.

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Answer: False.

It’s the other way around. Chianti Classico is far smaller than Napa Valley—both in the overall size of the region and in planted acres of vineyards. The Chianti Classico zone is just 177,500 acres (71,800 hectares) in total size. By contrast Napa is 500,000 acres (202,343 hectares) overall. In planted acres of vineyard, Chianti Classico has 17,290; Napa has 45,000. (7,200 hectares versus 18,211 hectares). Correspondingly, about 3 million cases of Chianti Classico are made every year, while 9 million cases of Napa Valley wine are made.  Of course, the denomination Chianti Classico is just a small central zone in the “heart” of Tuscany. The separate denomination Chianti is spread over a much larger area within Tuscany. If the statement had been “Napa Valley is smaller than Chianti,” the answer, shockingly enough, would have still been FALSE. Chianti covers 35,237 acres (14,266 hectares), about 10,000 acres less than the Napa Valley. All of this just goes to show how tiny many of the world’s top wine regions are, for Napa Valley accounts for just 4 percent of all the wine made in California and 0.4 % of all the wine made in the world.

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Answer: False.

Admittedly, this is splitting hairs. However, although they are pink in color, white zinfandel falls into a category that the wine industry calls “blush wines.” Blush wines are usually low in acidity (not very crisp, in other words) and slightly sweet. They’re easy to drink, but many wine experts would liken them to adult soda pop. Rosés are totally different—usually crisp and bone-dry. Both of these characteristics make dry rosés fabulous for pairing with a wide variety of foods.

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Answer: False.

Not exactly. Hairy grenache, or garnacha peluda in Spain and lledoner pelut in the Languedoc Roussillon region of France, is a (good) clone of grenache that has particularly hairy leaves. Like the furry fuzz found on rosemary and other Mediterranean plants, the “fur” evolved as a defense mechanism to protect the vine from heat and conserve moisture. The clone is native to the Spanish region of Catalonia. Wines made from hairy grenache often have a lower alcohol content, but the clone is customarily blended with regular (non-hairy) clones of grenache.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.