C. Classico Superiore



At the top of the Italian wine pyramid are the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wines. DOCG wines must meet Italy’s most stringent standards. Despite the word garantita, the quality is not being guaranteed exactly, although all wines do undergo analysis and testing by a government-approved panel. Yields are generally low. Barrel aging is usually long. Grape varieties are legally specified by percentage. The first DOCGs were named in 1980 (Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Barolo DOCG, Franciacorta DOCG, and others). As of 2023, there are 76 DOCGs across Italy. They are usually (but not always) Italy’s most expensive wines. While most Italian wine producers have stayed with the DOC/DOCG system, some have adopted the EU classifications instead. The highest level in the EU system is PDO, Protected Designation of Origin, which is written in Italian as DOP, Denominazione di Origine Protetta. So a DOCG would be equal to a European Union PDO; which is written in Italian as DOP.  Clear as mud, right?


A. Port of the Moon

B. Land of Gravels

C. Chateauville

D. Claret's Field


The old town of Bordeaux (which is second only to Paris in the number of historic monuments it has) is spread out along a curve of the giant Garonne River. In 2007, this part of Bordeaux city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the name Port de la Lune (Port of the Moon), a reference to the crescent shape that the river takes along the city’s banks. The crescent is also on the city’s coat of arms.


A. Its color

B. The amount of volcanic material it contains

C. Its capacity to drain water

D. Its weight


The best wine growing sites in the world have well-drained soils that hold just enough—but not too much water. Well-drained soils force grapevine roots to grow deep into the subsoil to find water—a good thing since deep roots are less prone to the vagaries of a climate. Also, vines with optimal water—neither too much nor too little—generally have small berries with ideal juice-to-skin ratios and lower yields than overly irrigated vines. This means wines with more flavor concentration.


A. A nickname for a person (usually in a winery’s marketing department) who writes tech sheets and pleasant descriptions of the winery’s wines

B. A blending tank used to add very tiny amounts of aromatic varieties to a wine (to contribute nuances)

C. A vegan fining agent used to clarify wine

D. A device that works as a combination wine strainer, non-drip pourer, and stopper


The Nuance Finer is a handy, multi-functional gadget you pop into the neck of a wine bottle before pouring wine into glasses. It simultaneously filters out sediment, catches drips, and gently aerates the wine. After pouring, it acts as a closure.


A. The wine’s acidity

B. The wine’s length (finish)

C. The wine’s fruity aromas

D. The wine’s percentage of alcohol


As wines age, their obvious fruity aromas (lemon, strawberry, cherry, etc.) decline. These so-called primary aromas, which come from the grapes themselves, are eventually replaced by the (hopefully stunning) bouquet of a well-aged wine. That bouquet is often nearly impossible to describe, representing as it does, the complex integration and coalescing of molecules and compounds over time.


A. Evaporation that occurs when a wine is decanted, causing sulfur compounds to “blow off”

B. A genetic variation in taste buds that causes some people to react strongly to bitterness

C. A chemical reaction in Champagne that can give it toasty, rich, caramelized flavors

D. A chemical reaction that binds tannins in wine and causes sediment


OK, this was a hard one. But the Maillard reaction is fascinating. Named for French scientist Louis Camille Maillard, it refers to a series of complex chemical reactions between sugar and amino acids. In Champagne, amino acids produced by yeasts react with sugar and impart toasty, rich, caramelized flavors. The Maillard reaction is also what gives flavor to foods when they are browned, seared, or toasted.


A. Verdello

B. Verduzzo

C. Viura

D. Vernaccia


Viura is a white grape variety grown in the Rioja region of Spain where it makes dry white wines. It’s also grown in Spain’s Penedès region where it’s known as Macabeo and is used in Cava. All the rest are Italian white grape varieties that, for the most part, make dry Italian white wines. Verdicchio is grown mainly in the Marche region. Vermentino is famous as the grape grown on the Italian island of Sardinia as well as in Tuscany. Verduzzo is grown in Friuli Venezia Giulia where it makes the luscious dessert wine Ramandolo. Vernaccia—or its full name Vernaccia di San Gimignano—is made in Tuscany. And Verdello is grown in Umbria where it is one of the grapes that make Orvieto. Yes, you can be forgiven for mixing up all those Italian whites that begin with a « V » !


A. An inexpensive sweet white wine made from native grapes in Morocco and Northern Africa

B. A hot, spiced wine that used to be drunk during pagan spring festivals

C. A special wine of the Uyghur people in China

D. A traditional wine made from the juice of tutu berries by the Māori of New Zealand.


Ok this is pretty obscure, but check these ingredients! Musailaisi wine—a special drink of the Uyghurs, a mostly-Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group living in China—is made by cooking local Vitis vinifera grapes with roses, wild berries, saffron, and cloves, along with (sometimes) velvet antler, pigeon blood, and roasted lamb. After cooking, the mixture is strained, poured into jars, and allowed to ferment for about forty days. Brownish in color, and both sweet and bitter, musailaisi is considered to have positive health benefits, and it certainly seems like an antidote to a cold night on the edge of Mongolia.


A. 45 bottles

B. 22 bottles

C. 68 bottles

D. 100 bottles


Approximately 68 bottles of 2021 Château Lafite Rothschild, according to our calculations, equal the price of a Model 3 Tesla. The average price for a bottle of 2021 Château Lafite Rothschild is $632. The Model 3 Tesla starts at an MSRP of $42,990 (with zero upgrades, not including fees and taxes.) That’s a little over 5 cases of wine, which, in case you’re wondering, could easily fit in the trunk of the Model 3.


A. Willamette Valley, Oregon

B. Beaujolais, France

C. Santa Barbara County, California

D. Wachau, Austria


The identity crisis that began in Beaujolais in the 1970s is now considered the beginning of the modern natural wine movement. The man who initiated what would become a global crusade was the late Marcel Lapierre, a then-young wine grower in Morgon. Lapierre had reportedly grown “disgusted” by his own wines, by his (and everyone else’s) use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and by the cheap, commercial wines that Beaujolais was increasingly known for. Abruptly, he changed course, began to farm organically, and returned to making Beaujolais the way he remembered his grandfather had. Three other winemakers joined him, and together the Bande des Quatres (“Gang of Four”) began making traditional, artisanal Beaujolais. Within a decade, the so-called natural wine movement that had begun in France had moved around the world.


A. Wine with so much tannin, it is unlikely to age well

B. Wine with tannin in balance with its acidity

C. Wine with tannin that does not feel overly astringent on the palate

D. Wine with tannin that has mellowed by aging in new oak barrels


So-called “ripe tannin” is a positive attribute that results from grapes that have been harvested at an ideal point of maturity. Tannin in a wine is beneficial, for it gives red wines a firm structure as well as the potential for aging. Tannin is both tasted and felt. Young, highly tannic wines have a slight bitterness (like espresso or chocolate) and a drying, astringent feel. If the wine has been made from mature grapes with ripe tannin, the bitter dry quality of tannin will be ameliorated. Excessively dry, harsh, scratchy tannin is a negative and may never ameliorate. Harsh tannin, often called green or unripe tannin, most often results when grapes have been picked before they are completely physiologically mature.


A. Serve it in smallish-sized glasses

B. Open the bottle well before dinner to let the wine breathe

C. Decant the wine, especially if it is over ten years in age

D. Serve it from generous glasses with ample bowls


Burgundies are, by their nature, aromatic wines. The only way to experience the full impact of these wines is to drink them from generous glasses with ample bowls. Serving a great Burgundy, white or red, in too small a glass should be considered a crime. Know, too, that Burgundies are among the wines in the world that change a lot after being poured. After, say twenty minutes, the wine may be transformed substantially, offering a whole new world of flavors and aromas. A fine Burgundy’s propensity to evolve in the glass and the fact that Pinot Noir is prone to oxidation means that, in general, you should not open the bottle many hours before dinner or, worse, decant it. Pinot Noir is the complete opposite of Cabernet Sauvignon in this regard. When Pinot Noir, especially a Pinot that is ten years old or more, is given too much oxygen, its flavors can seem to fade and fall apart. So pour red Burgundy from the bottle (not a decanter) and start drinking it slowly soon after it’s opened.


A. Sweet enough to be considered a dessert wine

B. Technically dry

C. Perceptibly sweet

D. Late harvest


There are no official global guidelines on what constitutes a sweet wine, although some appellations and styles of wine may have local standards that wine producers must abide by in labeling their wines. That said, for most people, a wine with 3 percent residual sugar would have some perceptible sweetness. In many parts of the world, such a wine would be referred to as “off-dry.” A wine is generally considered dry if it has less than 0.5 percent residual sugar although again, there are no strict guidelines. Some winemakers would say that a wine has to be less than 1 percent residual sugar to be considered dry, and others would say less than 2 percent. Most wines that you’d have for dinner would be 0 to perhaps 1.5 percent residual sugar. To place things in perspective, Port generally has about 7 percent residual sugar; Sauternes, 10 to 14 percent; German trockenbeerenauslesen (TBAs), as much as 30 percent. And hello Coke fans, colas clock in at about 11 percent residual sugar.


A. Amarone

B. Single Quinta Vintage Port

C. Malmsey Madeira

D. Fino Sherry


Amarone, from the Veneto region of Italy, is big, rich, high in alcohol, and occasionally grandiose—but not fortified.


A. A type of vegan fining agent used for tannic red wines

B. A unit of measurement of a wine’s length or “finish”

C. The name of a barrel cooper who makes barriques used by all five First Growths

D. A natural wine term for an artisanal wine, meaning “made with care”


Caudalie, from the French word caudal meaning “tail,” is a unit of measurement for the duration of a wine’s aroma on the palate. One caudalie is equal to one second. In Bordeaux, it has been suggested that a great wine has a finish of at least 8 caudalies. And now for those reading this who are cosmetically in the know, yes, Caudalie is also the name of an extremely successful, now global skin care company that was founded in Paris in 1995 by the children of the owners of Château Smith Haut Lafitte in Bordeaux. The luxury skin care line and beauty products are based on natural active ingredients found in grape seeds and vine cuttings.


A. Utah

B. Alaska

C. Hawaii

D. Wyoming


Hawaii may be pineapple-rich, but it’s wine-poor. According to Wines Vines Analytics Winery Database, as of 2022, there were only 6 wineries in Hawaii. Utah had 16, Alaska had 15, and Wyoming had 7. The state with the most wineries, not surprisingly, was California with 4,973.


A. It’s the 2nd most planted red variety

B. It’s the 6th most planted red variety

C. It’s the 10th most planted red variety

D. It’s the 3rd most planted red variety


Plantings of Pinot Noir have been increasing for a decade in California, especially in cool appellations with proximity to the Pacific Ocean. As of 2021, it’s the second most widely planted red grape in the state after Number 1, Cabernet Sauvignon. Coming in at numbers 3 and 4 are Merlot and Zinfandel respectively. Pinot Noir also grows over an especially long swath of territory in the state, from the Anderson Valley of Mendocino in the north to near Los Angeles in the south—a distance of almost 500 miles.


A. Greece

B. Italy

C. Spain

D. Portugal


I’m not sure how Italy could be “the next big thing” when—it seems to this correspondent anyway—it’s never gone away. But 13% of respondents named it as about to crash big time onto the wine scene. Next in line was Portugal with 11% of votes. Some respondents cited a wine region rather than a country. Sicily surged way out in front with 22% of respondents naming it. Paso Robles came in second, but only garnered 11% of nominations. Ok, so: Sicily and Italy. And now my friendly quizzards, please name three of the leading indigenous Italian grapes grown in Sicily.


A. Saudi Champagne (a mix of fruit juice and soda water)

B. A no-vodka cocktail called Sex in the Desert (pomegranate syrup and tonic water)

C. Dealcoholized craft beer made from couscous, farro, and other ancient grains

D. No-alcohol sweet wine made from figs and dates


According to drinks market analysts at IWSR, as Saudi Arabia becomes more international and initiates social and economic plans aimed at changing the perceptions of the country, it has taken a slightly different tact on the subject of alcoholic beverages. Such beverages are still strictly forbidden, but no-alcohol substitutes—that are sometimes similarly named—abound. The country is already a top ten market for no-alcohol beer and consumption of malt-based soft drinks is huge. There’s also a growing market for zero-alcohol wines and sparkling grape juice. One popular version of the latter is called “Saudi Champagne”—a mixture of fruit juices and soda water that many Saudis make at home.


A. Switzerland

B. Ireland

C. Canada

D. Japan


According to a report in Meininger’s Wine Business International, the Irish regretted their alcohol consumption from the previous day in more than a quarter of cases in which they’d over indulged and wished they had drunk less. Even so, the Irish do not have an exceptionally high frequency of alcohol abuse. Australians, Danes, Finns, Americans, the British, and Canadians all have higher rates of drunkenness.