A. Louis Pasteur’s assistant and the man who, historians now believe, was the actual discoverer of the role of yeasts in fermentation (not Pasteur)

B. The French official who established that country’s national Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée laws

C. Louis XIV’s most famous sommelier and a man who was legendary for having a palate memory of every wine he’d ever drunk

D. A Medieval crusader whose shelter became the name of a famous wine


Ok, this quiz was a little obscure, but if you love Rhône wines, you probably got it right. Gaspard de Stérimberg was a medieval crusader who, after being wounded in the Albigensian crusade of 1209 against heretics in southern France, was granted, by Queen Blanche de Castille, the right to establish a sanctuary on top of the hill of Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley. A small, ancient stone chapel still marks the spot. It is for this chapel that La Chapelle, the impressive top Hermitage wine of Paul Jaboulet Aîné, is named.


A. Heitz Cellars “Martha's Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

B. Robert Mondavi Winery “To Kalon Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

C. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Fay Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon

D. Ridge Vineyards “Monte Bello” Cabernet Sauvignon


While in the Army and stationed near Fresno during WW II, Joe Heitz got a part-time job at Italian Swiss Colony in Asti, Sonoma County. After getting bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of California at Davis after the War, Joe worked under the legendary André Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyard. In 1961, he left to start Heitz Cellars. Five years later, in 1966, he made the first famous vineyard-designated Napa Valley wine—Heitz “Martha’s Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville’s “Martha’s Vineyard,” owned by Tom and Martha May. When it was released, the 1966 Heitz Cellars “Martha’s Vineyard” was $7 a bottle—an astronomical price since Heitz’s regular cabernet sauvignon, released just three years earlier, was only $1.99 a bottle.  Tucked against the Mayacamas mountains on the west side of Oakville, Martha’s Vineyard is surrounded by giant eucalyptus trees, often credited as the source of the wine’s distinctive minty aroma and flavor. And the plant material is a unique proprietary selection that produces tiny, thick-skinned berries of great concentration and deep color. For over half a century, Heitz has had the exclusive use of the grapes from Martha’s Vineyard. As for the other options, while Ridge Vineyards released their first “Monte Bello” designated cabernet sauvignon in 1962, beating Heitz by four years, the vineyard is not in Napa Valley, but in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Although the To Kalon Vineyard was established in Oakville in 1868 by H.W. Crabb, Crabb did not vineyard-designate his wines (which included Burgundy, Sauterne, Claret, Riesling, Zinfandel and others). Crabb’s original name for the winery was Hermosa Vineyards which he later changed to the To Kalon Wine Company. The winery burned down in 1939. Planted in 1961 by Nathan Fay with cabernet sauvignon, the Fay Vineyard was the first significant planting of cabernet in Napa Valley south of Oakville. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars purchased the vineyard from Nathan Fay in 1986 and began putting the name of the vineyard on the label in 1990.


A. Savennières, France; it was one of the earliest estates to practice biodynamics

B. Vosne-Romanée, France; it is the smallest vineyard in all of France

C. Priorat, Spain; it was the first Spanish wine to be modeled on the Burgundian concept of an enclosed vineyard (a clos)

D. Maipo Valley, Chile; it was the first grand wine estate and vineyard founded in Chile by immigrants from Bordeaux


Ok, this was a hard one, but every avid wine lover should know about Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, in Savennières, in the Loire Valley of France. Considered one of the greatest white wines in the world, Coulée de Serrant is made on the single estate also called Coulée de Serrant. The prized vineyard (first planted in the year 1130 by Cistercian monks—whose small monastery still stands) is owned by the Joly family, and today consists of vines aged from 35 to 80 years old.  Current winemaker, Nicolas Joly, was among the earliest and remains one of the most ardent practitioners of biodynamics in the world. The vineyard is cultivated partly by hand and partly by horse because of the steep slopes overlooking the Loire, and because the hooves of horses loosen the soil perfectly without compacting it. Though it is just 17 acres (7 hectares) in size, Coulée de Serrant has its own appellation. Only a handful of other appellations in France are made up of a single property, including Romanée-Conti, La Tâche, and Clos de Tart, all in Burgundy, and Château-Grillet in the Rhône.


A. clone

B. scion

C. hybrid

D. shoot


The noun “clone” refers to plants of the same species that have identical physical characteristics. The DNA of a grapevine is not stagnant, so in Nature, clones emerge and evolve as the result of natural genetic mutations taking place over hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A grape variety may have many clones (like pinot noir), or relatively few (like sauvignon blanc). Two different clones of the same grape variety may taste remarkably different. Clone is also a verb. In viticulture, “to clone” means to propagate a group of vines from a “mother” vine that has desirable characteristics. These characteristics may include qualities such as resistance to certain diseases, berry size, and/or flavor attributes.


A. Nighttime visits from migrating peacocks. The word means mistress.

B. Thick fog. The word means mist.

C. An intense wind. The word means masterful.

D. Heavy rain. The word means cascade.


Each year, the vineyards of both the northern and southern Rhône are subject to a howling, icy northern wind known as Le Mistral. In the Occitan dialect of southern France, the word means “masterful.” Strongest between winter and spring, the wind often reaches speeds of over 40 mph (65 km/h) and has been known to get as high as 115 mph (180.1 km/h). The wind, which can pick up a grown woman a foot off the ground (this is based on personal research), can be destructive, but it can also be beneficial in its ability to quickly cool the vines during periods of intense heat. The winds of Le Mistral have long had an influence on the architecture of the region. Houses traditionally face southeast, with their backs to the wind, and many churches have open iron grill bell towers, which allow Le Mistral to pass through.


A. Pauillac

B. Châteauneuf-du-Pape

C. Vosne-Romanée

D. Languedoc-Roussillon


Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the first French wine Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC)—a term meaning “controlled designation of origin”—registered in 1936. Until the early 19th century, much of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape harvest was sold in bulk to Burgundy, to be used as vin de médecine—a shot of alcohol to boost Burgundy’s strength. However, in the wake of phylloxera and World War I, efforts by the region’s winemakers to improve the quality of wines resulted in a set of regulations to govern—among other elements—yields, winemaking, and varieties allowed, in order to be eligible to use the Châteauneuf-du-Pape designation. Before this, wine naming laws in France defined only geographical territory (not unlike our AVA system). In 1937, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC commissioned the bottle with the crest of the papal crown and St. Peter’s keys, as an acknowledgment of the region’s history as the temporary home of the Papacy in the 14th century, and as an added measure to protect the authenticity of the wine.


A. Gigondas

B. Vacqueyras

C. St. Joseph

D. Beaumes de Venise


St. Joseph is the largest of the northern Rhône AOCs and is home to syrah and the white varietals roussanne and marsanne. All of the other regions are in the southern Rhône. Gigondas (JEE-gon-dahs) is a hot region protected by the Dentelle Mountains from the Mistral, the infamous, fierce, cold winds that blow from the north. Vacqueryras (VAH-kay-rahs)—Latin for “Valley of the Rocks”—lies next to Gigondas and is dominated by grenache. Beaumes de Venise (BOME deh veh-KNEES) is an ancient region, settled by the Greeks and home to the famous sweet wine “Muscat de Beaumes de Venise.”


A. Tuscan sweet wine made from partially dried grapes and favored by priests for the Mass

B. Sparkling wine traditionally made by monks in Spanish monasteries

C. Velvety Austrian red wine made from grapes named after St. Laurent

D. Rustic white table wine consumed by celebrants of the patron saint of winemakers on St. Martin’s Day in France


Of the hundreds of different sweet wines produced in Italy, the best known may be vin santo, holy wine, so named because priests have drunk it during the Mass for centuries. Vin santo is the customary finale to even the humblest Tuscan meal, served after espresso, almost always with a plate of small biscotti called cantucci, stubby, twice-baked cookies meant for dunking. Most vin santo does not taste as sweet as, say Sauternes. The wine has a delicate, creamy, honey-roasted flavor, and the color can be unreal, from radiant amber to neon orange. True vin santo is fairly expensive because the ancient process of making it remains artisanal and labor intensive. Indeed, the grapes (generally malvasia bianca lunga or trebbiano) must be partially dried for three to six months before they are crushed and then left to ferment slowly for three to five years in small, sealed barrels in a warm attic called a vinsantaia.


A. Koshu

B. Blauburgunder

C. Hárslevelű

D. Zibibbo


Blauburgunder (blauw-ber-GUN-der) is the German name for pinot noir (yes, Germany and Austria both make pinot noir). Koshu (KO-shoe) is a widely planted Japanese variety. Legend has it that the grape is a cross of a native wild Japanese grape with a vinifera variety that was brought from Eastern Europe to Japan by way of China approximately a thousand years ago. Hárslevelű (HARSH-leh-veh-loo) is an aromatic Hungarian grape that lends a smooth spicy character to the renowned botrytized sweet wine Tokay Aszú. Zibibbo (Zee-BEE-boh) is the Sicilian name for the ancient variety muscat of Alexandria and the source of several famous Sicilian dessert wines.


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


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.


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


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.


A. Head

B. Legs

C. Nose

D. Body


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.


A. Malagousia

B. Savatiano

C. Xinomavro

D. Moschofilero


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.


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)


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.


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


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.


A. Sangiovese

B. Pinot Noir

C. Cabernet Franc

D. Merlot


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).


A. Australia

B. China

C. Argentina

D. South Africa


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:




United States





South Africa



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


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.


A. Semillon

B. Marsanne

C. Chenin blanc

D. Pinot noir


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.


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


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.