A. The Louvre Museum in Paris

B. The Vatican in Rome

C. The Governor’s Mansion in California

D. The Sydney Opera House in Australia


According to a recent post published by the Italian wine industry news portal, the Vatican is rumored to be planting 5 acres (2 hectares) of grapevines this spring on its Castel Gandolfo estate, the Pope’s official summer residence outside Rome. Although there is no word on the specific grape varieties, the project has been linked to Riccardo Catella, president of the Association of Italian Enologists and of the Union International des Oenologues. This will be the first time that the Vatican will grow grapes on one of its estates for the production of its own wine. Not intended as a commercial endeavor, the wine isn’t expected to be for sale, rather it will be used for sacramental purposes and given as gifts from the Pontiff.


A. Austria’s version of Beaujolais Nouveau, made with spätburgunder (pinot noir)

B. A type of soil famous in Portugal’s Douro Valley, made of layers of minerals that retain heat well

C. Native Hungarian grape variety used to make Tokaji Aszú

D. Scale used in Germany to indicate the ripeness of grapes


Ok, the German was something of a dead give-away, and this wine question was a bit nerdy we admit, but Oechsle is a scale which measures the weight of the grape juice or must before, during, and after fermentation. Developed in the nineteenth century by the physicist Ferdinand Oechsle, the scale gives an indication of ripeness and potential alcohol. The ripeness categories (Kabinett, Spätlese, etc.) of traditional German wines are based on Oechsle levels that are specified for each grape variety and each wine region. Other sugar measurement scales used in winemaking around the world include Baumé, favored in other parts of Europe and Australia, as well as Brix, used in the U.S.


A. Spain

B. Russia

C. Italy

D. France


Every year since 2016, Italy has made more spumante (“sparkling wine” in Italian) than any other country in the world according to the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine). Italy’s achievement has been driven in large part by the skyrocketing success of Prosecco which, at 660 million bottles a year, now makes up more than 10% of all Italian wine produced. Other major types of Italian sparkling wines include Lambrusco, Franciacorta, and Asti.


A. Vintage Port and Tawny Port

B. Vintage Port and Single-Quinta Vintage Port

C. Ruby Port and Late-Bottled Vintage Port

D. All Ports require decanting


The only Ports that need decanting are those that throw a sediment. These include two of the major styles: Vintage Port and Single-Quinta Vintage Port. None of the other major styles (Tawny, Reserve, or Late-Vintage Bottled) throw a sufficient sediment. Vintage Port is made only in exceptional years when Port shippers “declare” a vintage. A vintage Port may come from grapes from several quintas (renowned vineyard estates) as well as grapes grown by dozens of small, individual grape growers. Vintage Ports are first aged just two years in barrel, to round off their powerful edges. Then they are aged reductively (with only the tiniest amount of oxygen) for a long time in the bottle. A decade’s worth of aging is standard, and several decades used to be fairly common. To maintain the intensity, balance, and richness of vintage Port, it 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.

In the years a shipper chooses not to declare a year as vintage quality, the grapes that would have gone into vintage Port are often used to make a Single-Quinta Vintage Port. The idea behind these Ports is that the very best vineyard estates are often located in special mesoclimates that allow exceptional wines to be made even in years when the vintage as a whole may not be declared. Apart from blending, Single-Quinta Vintage Ports are made in the same manner as Vintage Ports, so that the wine must eventually be decanted.


A. 1,000

B. 85

C. 450

D. 260


France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) laws date from the 1930s, and define and delimit French wine regions. Currently there are 450 AOCs in France, accounting for 53.4% of the wines made in the country. The rules of any designated AOC stipulate how producers who want to use that AOC’s name on their labels must make their product. The rules define, among many other factors, the permitted geographical location of vineyards and varieties of grapes, as well as minimum aging times and alcohol levels. Wines that do not follow AOC regulations (or are outside the delimited areas) are labeled as IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) wines or Vins de France.


A. Penedès

B. Galicia

C. Valdeorras

D. Navarra


Don José Raventós, head of the Penedès bodega Codorníu, traveled throughout Europe during the 1860s selling his family’s still wines. On one such mission, Raventós found himself in Champagne and fascinated by the wine, he returned home keen to attempt his own sparkler. Using the three local white grapes still used in most cava today (macabeo, parellada, and xarel-lo) Raventós produced Spain’s first traditional method sparkler in 1872. Around this time, a small group of forward-thinking winemaking families, including the Raventós family, began meeting every Sunday after the ten o’clock Mass to discuss wine and share information. From these gatherings, an ambitious notion began to take shape. Why not convert all of the local still wines to sparkling and establish Penedès as Spain’s sparkling wine capital, analogous to the Champagne region in France? And the rest is history. Even though cava can be made in any of eight Spanish wine regions, more than 95 percent is made in the Penedès southwest of Barcelona. In addition to cava, sparkling wines that fall under the corpinnat umbrella (an association of sparkling producers who adhere to stricter standards than those for cava) are also made in the Penedès. Indeed, corpinnat wines can only be made in the Penedès.


A. South Africa

B. France

C. United States

D. New Zealand


South Africa accounts for 53% of the world’s total planted acreage of chenin blanc. France grows 28%, primarily in the Loire Valley, and together the U.S. and Argentina split another 15%. For centuries chenin blanc was (and it still remains) South Africa’s most planted grape. Sometimes known there as steen, it was one of the first grapes to arrive on the Cape in the1650s. Historically, far more white grapes than red were grown in South Africa—a reflection of the past importance of cheap South African “sherry” and brandy which were based on white grapes that could be grown at astronomical yields (and consequently little flavor or complexity). Chenin blanc is also able to retain acidity relatively well in hot climates. Lots of South African chenin blanc is pleasant and simple at best. But treasure troves of old chenin blanc vineyards can still be found, and many young winemakers are dedicated to saving these old vineyards and making amazingly delicious wines—both dry and sweet—from them.


A. Alsace, France

B. Rheingau, Germany

C. Ontario, Canada

D. Finger Lakes, New York


Even though Ontario’s wineries have only been making commercial ice wine since the 1980s, today they average a total of 224,500 gallons (850,000 liters) produced annually. Ice wine, however, has been around since at least 44 AD when the Roman writer Pliny reported on wines made from frozen grapes. In Germany, where it is known as eiswein, the sweet elixir is documented for the first time in 1830. After a sudden frost, winegrowers discovered it while attempting to save their grape harvest rather than feed the frozen grapes to their livestock, as was typical until then.

Canadian ice wine is made from very ripe grapes of at least 35° Brix (in Germany, grapes need only reach 26-30° Brix depending on the region) that have frozen naturally on the vine. In Canada, they must be picked while the air temperature remains at or below -8° C, or 17.6° F, by law (in Germany it’s -7° C or 19.4° F), often well before sunrise, by workers wearing gloves so their hands don’t freeze. The most common ice wine varieties are vidal blanc and cabernet franc (in Canada) and riesling (in Germany). As the frozen grapes are pressed, the sweet, high-acid, concentrated juice is separated from the ice (the water in the grapes). Musts with these levels of sugar are difficult for the yeasts to process into wine. As a result, ice wine tends to have very high natural sugar levels, typically exceeding 100 grams per liter, yet with low alcohol levels of just under 8% alcohol by volume. The wine is miraculously high in both sweetness and acidity, making drinking it an ethereal sensation. Of all the wine-producing regions in the world, only Ontario has a winter climate sufficiently cold to ensure an ice wine crop every year.


A. Kendall Jackson, Sonoma, CA

B. Biltmore Winery, Ashville NC

C. Sutter Home Winery, Napa Valley, CA

D. Brotherhood Winery, Hudson Valley, NY


The Biltmore Winery is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the estate of George Vanderbilt, grandson of famed industrialist and philanthropist Cornelius Vanderbilt. Officially opened to Vanderbilt’s friends and family on Christmas Day, 1895, the Biltmore Estate was donated to the public by his daughter in 1930. Today, approximately 1.5 million visitors come to the estate annually to walk the more than four acres of floor space, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. The estate reports that slightly fewer than half of those visitors make it over to the winery and tasting room, located in the original 1900 dairy barn. Winemaker Sharon Fenchak notes, ”Since we’re in the Southeast, sometimes we are the first winery people ever visit.” Vanderbilt’s grandson, William A.V. Cecil, planted vineyards with French-American hybrid grapes on the estate in the early 1970s, and opened the winery in 1985. Today, wines are produced from 150 acres of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit manseng from the property as well as grapes sourced from the West Coast.


A. Chardonnay

B. Gouais Blanc

C. Colombard

D. Muscadelle


DNA fingerprinting at the University of California, Davis in the late 1990s identified gouais blanc (goo-AY blahnk) as one of the ancient “founder varieties.” As such, it is a parent or grandparent to at least 81 distinct western European grape varieties including such disparate varieties as chardonnay, riesling, muscadelle, blaufränkisch, and colombard. Derived from the old French adjective “gou”—a term of derision befitting its traditional status as the grape of the peasants—gouais blanc is considered neutral to the point of mediocrity. Extremely little wine is produced from gouais blanc today, in fact it’s no longer even cultivated in France, where it originated. However, an impressive sweet wine is made from it in the Rutherglen region of Victoria, Australia by Chambers Rosewood Winery from 100+ year-old vines.


A. Slavonia

B. Caucasus

C. Wisconsin

D. Ontario


Ontario may be famous for its maple trees but NOT for its oaks. While there are over 500 species of oak (scientific name Quercus—derived from the Celtic quer, meaning “fine,” and cuez, meaning “tree”) in the northern hemisphere, only three species are suitable for wine and spirits barrels. Oak contributes a wide variety of desirable flavors to wine, and is porous enough to allow air flow while remaining liquid tight when quartersawn (American oak) or split along the grain (French/European oak). Slavonia is a region in northeastern Croatia, part of the former country Yugoslavia. Many Italian producers have favored Slavonian oak (Quercus robur) for their sangioveses and nebbiolo-based wines. The Caucasus is a region on the European border between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Caucasian oak (also Quercus robur), primarily from Russia, imparts less tannin and fewer aromatics, which is useful if you want a more fruity, straight-up expression of the grape itself. Wisconsin (as well as Minnesota, Missouri, and Oregon) supplies Quercas alba for American oak barrels. American oak is well-known for its generous amounts of wood sugar that caramelizes when charred, introducing toffee and brown sugar notes. Classic Rioja winemakers and Australian shiraz producers often use American oak. Other regions supplying oak for wine barrels can be found throughout France, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia.


A. Colchagua (Chile)

B. Swartland (South Africa)

C. Sicily (Italy)

D. California (U.S.)


Historians believe the name California comes from the sixteenth-century Spanish novel Las Sergas de Esplandián (The Exploits of Esplandián) which describes a fictional island in the East Indies ruled by a Black queen named Calafia and populated only by Black women warriors. Written by Garcia Rodriguez de Montalvo, the novel was popular at the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the Baja Peninsula which the explorers may have believed to have been the fabled island.


A. Germany

B. Chile

C. New Zealand

D. England


Although phylloxera ultimately ravaged vineyards in most wine-producing countries, Chile has never been affected. The country exists in near perfect seclusion. On the west is the Pacific Ocean; on the east, the massive Andes Mountains; to the north, the Atacama Desert; and to the south, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) across the water, frozen masses of Antarctic ice. Within these formidable natural boundaries exists an almost Eden-like environment for grapes and other crops. The Spanish settled Chile in the 16th century, bringing with them the grape variety called listán prieto (later called país, and also known as mission in the U.S.). Because of its pristine isolation, Chile has pais grape vines that today are hundreds of years old. Many of these very very old vines were grafted over to Bordeaux varieties in the mid-19th century. Rich Chilean landowners and mining barons who had begun building wine estates imported cuttings from Bordeaux in the decades just prior to phylloxera arriving in France. Today, some of the oldest malbec and carmenère vineyards can be found in Chile.


A. Apulia

B. Sicily

C. Piedmont

D. Friuli


In a country where “real” wine generally means red wine, Friuli (officially Friuli -Venezia Giulia) is acclaimed as one of Italy’s few sources of racy whites. During the 1970s and 1980s, while almost every up-and-coming wine region in the world was focused on creating unctuous, barrel-fermented, oak-aged wines, notably chardonnays, Friulian producers were committed to making the opposite—taut, kinetic whites with a spring-loaded urgency of acidity, and flavors devoted to the purity of the grapes. In particular, Friuli’s pinot grigios, sauvignon blancs, and ribolla giallas can be stunning, as can its chardonnays. Each of these grape varieties is made into single-varietal wines and is used in the region’s numerous white blends. While many pinot grigios are about as exciting as tap water, the top Friulian versions can soar with delicate peach, almond, and green apple flavors, or be so voluptuous and rich they seem to be descended from ice cream. But if any white wine has captured the Friulian heart, it is one that is theirs alone: friulano. Ranging from smoky, resinous, and white peppery to lush and vanilla-y to spiked with minerals and exotic spices, wines made from friulano have earned this intense variety a reputation among Friulian winemakers as the “most masculine” of the white grapes. Above all, however, Friulian whites have presence. Rarely plain-Jane or frail, these are concentrated, complex whites with enticing aromas and pronounced fruity-spicy-earthy flavors.


A. A fruity, licoricey, bitter-edged wine made with dolcetto grapes in Piedmont, Italy

B. The nickname for the system in apartheid-era South Africa whereby the jobless were given bulk wine as a portion of their unemployment benefits

C. Sparkling pineapple wine produced by Tedeschi Winey, a partnership between California vintners and Ulupalakua Ranch on Maui, Hawaii

D. The most popular red wine blend in French-speaking Switzerland


Dôle, a light and fruity red wine blend, meant to be enjoyed in its youth, is based on two of the most widely planted red grapes in Switzerland’s Valais wine region—pinot noir and gamay. In the late 1950s, Dôle became a protected appellation in the Valais. The blend must be comprised of at least 85% pinot noir and gamay, with pinot dominating. Other red grape varieties including syrah and the indigenous varieties humagne rouge and cornalin are also allowed. Valais is the largest of Switzerland’s six wine regions and extends over 60 miles (100 kilometers) along the river Rhône.

And here are three fascinating facts about Switzerland wine country:
• Switzerland is primarily a red wine producer
• There are roughly 1650 producers in the country
• It has some of the steepest vineyards in the world


A. England

B. Tasmania, Australia

C. The original Montagne de Reims area within today’s Champagne region

D. South Africa


Over the last several years, both iconic Champagne producers have invested in southern England’s uncanny combination of chalky soils, climate, and topography—so similar to Champagne’s own terroir.

In 2017, Taittinger planted 50 acres (20 hectares) of traditional Champagne grape varieties near Kent in southeastern England. It was the first time a top Champagne house had planted a vineyard in the U.K. This summer, plans to build a 33K+ case winery adjacent to the venture’s current 550-acre vineyard were approved. The English sparkling wine will be called Domaine Evremond, named after Charles de Saint-Évremond, the French writer credited with introducing 17th-century London society to Champagne. The first vintage is expected in 2024.

Not long after Taittinger’s investment, Pommery purchased and planted 100 acres (40 hectares) of vineyard near Southampton, west of Kent along the southern coast. The following year, Pommery became the first Champagne house to launch an English sparkling wine with the 2018 release of its Louis Pommery England Brut, with grapes purchased from vineyards in Hampshire, Essex, and Sussex. The wine is named for Pommery’s founder.


A. Sundials

B. Wild boars

C. Alpine horns

D. Wind chimes


The vineyards of the Mosel are the steepest in Germany and among the steepest in the world. Indeed, the expanse of vineyards from the village of Zelting to the village of Bernkastel along the Mosel River, is considered the longest stretch of near-vertical vineyards anywhere on the globe. Many of the top Mosel producers, including the three renowned Sonnenuhr—Sundial—vineyards are clustered in the middle section known as the Mittelmosel (middle Mosel). They are the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr.

The Mosel vineyards are also among the most northern vineyards in Germany, meaning that the sun is in contact with the vines for limited, precious hours each day. The total number of sunlight hours during the growing season is also modest (the Mosel gets, in a good year, about a third of the sunlight hours that Provence does). If fine wine is to be made, vineyards must be nothing short of perfectly sited, so that each ray of light and warmth is maximized. As a result, the Mosel’s vineyards hug only south-facing slopes. In addition, the best vineyards are quite close to the river itself, for even the reflection of light off the water becomes one more increment in the quest for ripeness.

The huge sundials that give the Sonnenuhr vineyards their names were built as far back as the early 1600s in the sunniest part of three excellent slopes, so that vineyard workers would know when to stop for lunch or for the day. Because the vines in the vicinity of the sundial also got the most sun (and made the richest wine), the areas around the sundials soon came to be considered separate vineyards. Today the Sonnenuhr vineyards are among the best along the Mosel.


A. Robots

B. Falcons

C. Guard dogs

D. Drones


As part of their sustainable farming practices, many California vintners recruit trained raptors and their handlers (falconers) to scare away the thousands of birds that descend each harvest to eat ripe wine grapes right from the vines. Many bird species enjoy the vineyard smorgasbord. Some will cleanly remove the berries (wild turkeys can consume the equivalent of a full bottle of wine in a single day), but others simply peck at the grapes to get at the pulp and seeds, leaving a damaged cluster that can harbor bacteria and fungal pathogens that can lead to off-flavors and textures.

For centuries, viticulturalists have relied on a cornucopia of creative methods to keep their vineyards from becoming an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Over time, however, birds acclimate to static scare tactics such as loud booming air cannons and balloons painted with giant eyes. Chemical repellants aren’t a good option either since they fail to meet growers’ sustainability standards. And bird netting is expensive and labor-intensive to install each year.

Falconry, on the other hand, minimizes crop losses, while treading lightly on the environment. Falcons are ferocious hunters that can see up to eight times better than a human, spot prey from more than 100 feet in the air, and dive at more than 200 miles an hour. The mere sight of a predator falcon or its shadow triggers smaller birds to flee or find cover. And no bird is complacent when a falcon is flying near them. Raptors leave behind no toxic chemicals, and they cost half as much as netting.


A. A protracted embargo by Spanish monarchs on Mexican wines

B. A prohibition by Spanish monarchs against planting vines in Mexico

C. The predominance of an ancient fermented agave beverage called pulque

D. A generally infertile landscape unfit for growing grapes without any availability of water for irrigation


Christopher Columbus, as early as his second voyage, brought seeds, cuttings, and animal breeding stock on every voyage to the West Indies and the American continent. The climate of the West Indies proved inhospitable, but vines and olive trees thrived in Mexico’s dry sunny interior. Mexico’s early wine industry started with the grape listán prieto, a red that was native to the Spanish province of Castilla-La Mancha, the political stronghold and home of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella (Columbus’ financiers). But subsequent Spanish monarchs were wary of a New World outpost that might threaten or compete with the motherland. Soon, planting both vines and olive trees in Mexico was forbidden. The only wineries that survived the injunction were in the remote northern part of the country where, unmonitored, they continued to prosper. Two of those are still in existence: Bodegas del Marqués de Aguayo founded in 1593, and Casa Madero (originally named San Lorenzo) founded in 1597. The latter is located in the charmingly named Mexican town of Santa Maria de las Parras (“Holy Mary of the Grapevines”), so named for the abundance of wild native grapevines the Spanish found growing there. Beginning in the 1990s and building on the success of already established wineries like Monte Xanic, Santo Tomás, and L.A. Cetto, a group of creative young winemakers quietly began making small lots of delicious wines. Today, Mexico has a growing fine wine industry, and the very top wines are surprising in quality.


A. Zurich, Switzerland

B. Shiojiri, Japan

C. Mendoza, Argentina

D. Principality of Monaco


Shiojiri, a modest city in central Japan, is famous as the hub of the Kikyogahara Wine Valley in Nagano Prefecture, one of the country’s oldest wine regions. Domestic wine production in Japan, using locally produced grapes, only really began with the adoption of Western culture during the Meiji restoration in the second half of the 19th century. The Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard was originally planted in 1988 as a way to promote the area’s wine culture and specialty grapes. “Trained” into high trellises overhead the third and fourth platforms of the station, the vineyard benefits from reflective floor tiles and exposure to the sky that provide the grapes plenty of sunlight. The merlot and niagara grapevines are tended by local winegrowers, and community members volunteer to help cultivate and prune the vines. The Kikyogahara Wine Valley is home to 10 wineries, with a reputation made on merlot and chardonnay.