Share

A. To decant wine by pouring it through the holes into another container

B. To accommodate multiple straws for communal drinking

C. To challenge the drinker to consume the contents without spilling them

D. To pour multiple servings of grog at a time

C.

The so-called “puzzle jug” was popular in homes and taverns in the 18th and 19th centuries. It descended from earlier drinking puzzles, such as the fuddling cup and King/Tinker mug, examples of which date back to medieval times. An inscription on the jug typically challenges the drinker to drink from the vessel in such a way that the beverage does not spill. The solution? The jug has a hidden tube, one end of which is the spout. The tube usually runs around the rim and then down the handle, with its other opening inside the jug and near the bottom. To solve the puzzle, the drinker must suck from the spout end of the tube. To make the puzzle more interesting, some jugs had a number of additional holes, which had to be closed off before the contents could be drained.

Share

A. Good quality, moderately priced wines from Bordeaux

B. Wines produced from the top villages of Bourgeois

C. British nickname for mass-market, unremarkable French wines

D. Wines from Champagne that come from inferior vintages

A.

Some of the most affordable Bordeaux—perfect for every night drinking—are labeled Cru Bourgeois (crew bohr-JWAH). How did they come to be? In the famous 1855 Bordeaux Classification, only 60 of the Medoc region’s best wineries (plus one exception—Château Haut Brion in the Graves region) were selected for ranking into five top quality “Growth” (or Cru) categories. For decades, the several hundred châteaux not classified in 1855, unofficially referred to themselves as the Cru Bourgeois. The term became a legal classification in 1932, and the latest revision recognizes three quality levels: Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. These all deliver wines that taste like they cost more than they do. Keep an eye out for any one of these châteaux: Chasse-Spleen, Haut-Marbuzet, Labégorce-Zédé, Ormes-de-Pez, Pez, Phélan-Segur, Potensac, Poujeaux, and Siran. As for the other possible answers: Bourgeois exists only in one’s mind. I believe the English pejorative of choice is “Plonk.” And in Champagne, cru refers to vineyards, not vintages.

Share

A. Head

B. Legs

C. Nose

D. Body

A.

A wine’s “nose” is its aroma.  Wine pros will say, for example, that a given wine has a nose of apricots and peaches.  Similarly, a wine’s “legs” are the rivulets of wine that inch up the inside surface of the glass above the wine, then run slowly back down.  It’s often said (erroneously) that the thicker the legs, the better the wine.  Legs are a complex phenomenon related to the amount of glycerol and alcohol in the wine, plus the rate of evaporation of the alcohol.  A wine’s “body” is its weight on the palate.  Light-bodied wines feel about as heavy as skim milk on the palate, while full-bodied wines feel like half-and-half or even cream.  Medium-bodied wines are somewhere in the middle. Head?  Um, that falls in the beer department.

Share

A. Malagousia

B. Savatiano

C. Xinomavro

D. Moschofilero

B.

Savatiano is the most cultivated wine-producing variety in Greece and the primary grape used for retsina. The grapes roditis and assyrtiko are also sometimes used. Savatiano is mostly grown in Central Greece in the wine region Attiki (Attica). As for malagousia and moschofilero, both are aromatic grapes said to make the best aperitifs in all of Greece. Xinomavro, a high acid and tannic red grape is known for making dark, brooding wines which are a specialty of northern Greece.

Share

A. Pisco sour (traditional South American cocktail)

B. Grignolino (Italian red wine from Asti in Piedmont, Italy)

C. Vermouth (Italian fortified wine flavored with herbs and spices)

D. Campari and soda (Italian aperitif originally from Piedmont, Italy)

B.

Despite being born in Argentina, Pope Francis—Jorge Mario Bergoglio—comes from an Italian family with deep wine roots. His grandfather, Giovanni Angelo Bergoglio, was a winemaker near Asti in Piedmont, Italy, known for its bubbly dessert wines. However, Giovanni made a still red from the area, called grignolino (GREEN-yoh-LEE-noh). While still Cardinal Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, the Pope wrote often to his relatives in Piedmont, asking them to send more bottles of grignolino. Derived from grignòle, a Piedmontese dialect word for “many seeds”, grignolino is the source of light-reddish colored, frothy, crisp wines that can also have a tannic bite.

Share

A. The term used in Sicily for laying out grapes on straw mats in the sun to dry and concentrate them before making a sweet wine

B. The process in Madeira of gently heating wine-filled tanks in order to darken the wine

C. The Catalan word for long aged whites that have taken on an oxidized almost rancid character

D. The term used in Sherry production for replenishing the wine in one barrel with wine from another barrel

D.

In Sherry production, the process of replenishing the wine in one row (criadera) with wine that has been extracted from barrels in the criadera above it is called rocio (row-CEE-oh). The word means “morning dew” and is a reflection of how gently the wine must be handled when it is moved between criaderas. This continual process of extracting wines from barrels and replenishing other barrels has a lovely name. It’s called correr escalas—running the scales, and it’s done several times a year.

Share

A. Sangiovese

B. Pinot Noir

C. Cabernet Franc

D. Merlot

B.

Pinot noir earned this nickname because, even though it is one of the most fickle grapes to grow, it can become what many consider to be the most poetic, compelling wine in the world.  In fact, an entire book on pinot noir by the author, Marq de Villiers, is entitled The Heartbreak Grape (McArthur & Company 2007).

Share

A. Australia

B. China

C. Argentina

D. South Africa

C.

Argentina places 5th behind the perennial trifecta of Italy, France and Spain, and then a distant United States.  In fact, the production of the U.S. and Argentina combined is less than Spain’s which is currently in third place.  Australia and South Africa, despite their relatively large land masses, come in at numbers 7 and 9, respectively.  Despite the perception that wine production in China has boomed in recent years, it still finishes in 10th place, perhaps because table grapes represent a significant amount of its plantings. The top 10 are:

Italy

France

Spain

United States

Argentina

Chile

Australia

Germany

South Africa

China

Share

A. A Spanish ballroom dance with sharp footwork based on the story of the bull fight

B. A Spanish red wine fermented with twice the normal amount of grape skins and pulp

C. A traditional “drunken” spaghetti dish from Chianti made by adding wine to the cooking water

D. A traditional Tuscan distillate made with pasta cooking water

B.

Doble pasta [DOH-blay PAHSS-tah] is a traditional style of red winemaking in the Alicante, Jumilla, Utiel-Requeña, and Yecla districts in the Spanish Levante.  Wines are macerated and fermented with twice the normal amount of grape skins and pulp, resulting in a wine of intense concentration, tannin and color. Doble pasta wines are often produced from the indigenous bobal grape variety and used to strengthen lighter blends.

Share

A. Semillon

B. Marsanne

C. Chenin blanc

D. Pinot noir

D.

In Burgundy, during the early Middle Ages, chardonnay arose as a seedling―a natural cross of the noble red grape of Burgundy, pinot noir, with the white grape, gouais blanc (GOO-ay BLAHNK) , thought to have been brought to eastern France by the Romans from Croatia.  DNA testing in 1999 uncovered the unorthodox parentage, a shock to the international wine community at the time, as gouais blanc is considered so mediocre that several French districts tried to ban it and it is no longer even cultivated in France.

Share

A. No. 99 – Ice Wine from Hall of Fame Hockey star Wayne Gretzky

B. Windsor Great Park Vineyard – Sparkling Wine from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

C. Fergalicious - California Red Blend from Grammy-winning hip-hop singer, Fergie

D. Raging Bull - Napa Valley Sangiovese from Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro

D.

While De Niro has invested in many restaurants–Nobu, Rubicon, and Tribeca Grill, hotels and a spirits brand, VDKA 6100, he has never pursued a wine brand.  A. As a kid, Wayne Gretzky watched his grandfather make his own wine.  Today, “The Great One” presides over Wayne Gretzky Estates, producing wine from the Niagara Peninsula and Okanagan wine regions, as well as Canadian whiskies.  B. Dubbed “Liz’s Fizz” by the London press, the Queen’s sparkling wine is made from 7 acres of classic Champagne grapes on the monarch’s estate outside Windsor Castle.  C. A blend of syrah, merlot, grenache and cabernet sauvignon from California’s Santa Ynez Valley, Fergalicious is the most high-profile offering from Ferguson Crest winery, a collaboration between Fergie and her father Pat Ferguson.

Share

A. The name of the racking system used to barrel-ferment red wines by rotating the barrels on mechanical arms

B. The compound that makes some wines taste peppery

C. The step in the process of disgorging Champagne when the temporary crown cap is pulled off by what looks like a round bottle opener

D. A type of Burgundy barrel with an especially deep bilge for extended lees contact

B.

Rotundone (row-TUND-own) just might make you think someone had surreptitiously ground up some black pepper into your glass. The compound—often (but not always) found in the syrahs of France’s Rhône Valley and the shirazes of Australia—is the exact same compound that exists in peppercorns.  It can be found in grapes themselves and survives the fermentation process. Syrah/shiraz is of course famous/notorious for the black and/or white pepper aroma and flavor, but rotundone can also occasionally be found in pinot noir, gamay, durif, schioppettino and the white grape grüner veltliner, among others. The compound was discovered by the Australian Wine Research Institute in 2005.

Share

A. The Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci

B. The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus

C. The Roman poet Virgil

D. The French writer Voltaire

A.

The artist/scientist/inventor Leonardo da Vinci was a great lover of wine. In 1498, he accepted a small vineyard from Ludivoco Sforza, the Duke of Milan, as payment for “The Last Supper” which da Vinci painted for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. (The vineyard was destroyed by a fire that resulted from bombing during World War II). And what grapes grew in da Vinci’s vineyard?  In 2009, Italian viticulturists and geneticists excavated the site, and based on the DNA of extant roots, determined that it was malvasia di candia, an aromatic white variety, which of course is still grown in Italy today.

Share

A. Hoop Driver for tightening, loosening and removing the steel hoops that hold barrel staves together

B. Champagne Pliers for opening a bottle of sparkling wine

C. Wine Bottle Brush for sweeping away powdery mold and cobwebs from long-aged bottles before opening

D. Barrel Bung Puller for unlocking the seal on barrel bungs during fermentation

B.

There’s nothing worse than not being able to get a cork out of a bottle of Champagne. And it happens quite a lot. The answer is not to let the bottle warm up (as some people do). Because if the bottle warms quickly, the cork will eventually come out explosively. A better, safer, quicker answer is Champagne pliers. These “pliers” look a bit like regular pliers only they are more elegant, and they are designed to fit perfectly around a stubborn Champagne cork. One small twist and voila, your Champagne is open and ready to be poured. You can get a new pair here.

Share

A. A Latin word meaning “place of thistles”

B. A medieval French term for “white chalky soil”

C. A combination of two Greek words meaning “golden sphere”

D. A Celtic term meaning “that which is delicate”

A.

Chardonnay is derived from the medieval Latin word cardonnacum, meaning “place of thistles.” Thistle is chardon in French. There is a small village in the Mâconnais region of southern Burgundy called Chardonnay.

Share

A. A variety is a grape that occurred spontaneously in Nature; a varietal is a grape that was intentionally created by scientists or researchers

B. A variety is a grape; a varietal is a wine

C. A variety belongs to the European species vinifera; a varietal belongs to any one of several north American species

D. There is no difference; the words are interchangeable

B.

Variety refers to a grape. A vineyard, for example, might be planted with the variety cabernet sauvignon. A varietal refers to the wine made from a given variety. So, in a wine shop, you can buy a bottle of the varietal cabernet sauvignon which is made from the variety cabernet sauvignon.

Share

A. A type of Slovenian oak, commonly used to age wine in Croatia and Slovenia

B. Austrian slang for the contents of a spit cup

C. A white wine grape especially well-suited to volcanic soils in Hungary

D.  The bits of skin that cling to the insides of old amphora in which Georgia’s famous amber/orange skin-contact wines are made

C.

Juhfark (YOU-fark) is a Hungarian white grape variety, most notably grown in the volcanic wine region of Somló in northwest Hungary. The name in Hungarian means sheep’s tail, referring to the elongated, cylindrical shape of the clusters. The wine itself is often made with skin-contact and has a complex flavor.

Share

A. Etienne

B. Dominic

C. Pierre

D. Jean-Martin

C.

Pierre. The term “Dom” is an honorific title for a monk. The word comes from the Latin dominus meaning “master.”

Share

A. A French cream sauce for fish or asparagus

B. The French version of sauerkraut

C. A type of orange

D. A type of Mediterranean bird

C.

When the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) recently surveyed 2000 Britons, 29% believed that the famous French sweet wine Sauternes was “a type of orange.” Twenty percent of respondents thought it was a beach resort. And seven percent thought it was a plant. It appears that wine education is not quite yet a fait accompli.

Share

A. Beaujolais from the best single vineyards

B. Beaujolais that are aged for at least a year in French oak

C. Beaujolais from selected villages

D. Beaujolais from what historically have been the top producers (the “cru”)

C.

Cru Beaujolais refers to wines from ten distinguished villages. (Interestingly enough, in most of the rest of France, the word cru refers to a vineyard.) Most of these villages are in the north of the region on steep granite hills. Cru wines are deeper, denser, more structured and more age-worthy than regular Beaujolais. The ten Cru are: St.-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly, and Côte de Brouilly. Although Beaujolais Nouveau will be released next Thursday, we recommend you drink the far better Cru Beaujolais to celebrate the region.