A. Catawba

B. Malbec

C. Ugni Blanc

D. Alicante Bouschet


Ok this was probably pretty easy if you know a little French, since mal is French for “bad,” and bec for “mouth.” But allow me to explain further. Although it is now famous in Argentina, malbec’s ancestral home is Cahors, a tiny, ancient wine region in southwest France. Here, the wine is known as le vin noir, “the black wine,” not only because of its dark color, but also because of its severe, tannic, dark flavors. The word malbec is actually a nickname for the grape’s true ampelographic name: côt. But in the nineteenth century, malbec became a slang term for someone who spoke badly of others. There must have been a lot of malbecs in Cahors, for the word became a common surname—and an affectionate term for the local grapes.


A. Two tools that have been used by coopers to make barrels for several centuries

B. Herbal/mineral infusions that are sprayed on vines right after flowering as part of biodynamic farming

C. Types of fine clay that can be used to fine extremely tannic red wines

D. The words for wine in Hungarian and Basque


Hungarian, Basque, Turkish, and Greek are the only European languages that have words for wine not derived from Latin. The Hungarian word for wine is bor; the Basque word is ardo.


A. André

B. Moët & Chandon

C. Veuve Clicquot

D. Perrier Jouët


With 90,000 cases sold in supermarkets, Veuve Clicquot came in Number 6 in supermarket sales of sparklers in 2020, according to the industry magazine Market Watch. Veuve Clicquot was also the most expensive sparkler in the top ten, selling in supermarkets for an average price of $54 a bottle. Moët & Chandon didn’t make the top ten supermarket sparklers list (it was Number 16). And Perrier Jouët was not in the top 20. Good for you if you knew that André was a trick answer. It’s not a Champagne; it’s made in California by E & J Gallo. It came in 4th in supermarket sales, costing an average of $6. a bottle


A. Italy

B. Portugal

C. France

D. Argentina


In all of these countries,  per capita wine consumption is high. But Portugal comes out on top with 16.4 gallons/62.1 liters of wine per person per year (for people over 15 years old). According to the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine), the next three countries in descending order are France (13.3 gallons/50.2 liters), Italy (11.5 gallons/43.6 liters), and Switzerland (10 gallons/37.8 liters).


A. Special picking boxes used during harvest to minimize oxidation and damage to the grapes

B. A modern system of racks that can roll barrels making it easier to stir lees

C. A group of South American grape varieties that have a Spanish heritage

D. Refrigerated containers that are used to ship grapes long distances in the summer


The criollas (Spanish for “creoles”) are a group of Vitis vinifera grapes that the Spanish brought to South America in the 16th century, including the grape varities that were born in the Americas as a result of those original varieties. Some of these—such as the red grape listán prieto—were brought directly from Spain as seeds or cuttings and then carried by missionaries and conquistadors from one South American country to the next. Other of the criollas originated in South America itself, the result of natural crosses that formed between various European varieties. In Chile, listán prieto was called criolla chica (creole girl) and later renamed pais. In Peru, listán prieto was known as negra criolla, and in Bolivia, it was missionera. In Mexico, listán prieto was called misión (after the early missions where it was planted)—a name that the grape variety (mission in English) also held in California, Texas, and New Mexico.  Several subsequent criollas were born in Argentina.


A. New Zealand

B. South Africa

C. Chile

D. Argentina


If you thought the answer was New Zealand, you would have been right until just recently. For 50 years, New Zealand’s Black Ridge Vineyard (at latitude 45.15 degrees S) held the title Most Southern Vineyard in the World. But Argentina now has a winery that has surpassed it. As of 2021, the world’s most southerly vineyard is Bodega Otronia (latitude 45.33 degrees S) in Chubut Province deep in Argentina’s Patagonia Extrema, a region once known only for mining and sheep. Over the next few years, the title will be an ongoing contest between Argentina and Chile, as both countries push viticulture further and further south toward the cold tip of the South American continent. (Sorry, New Zealand).


A. The name of a heat-tolerant clone of cabernet recently developed at U.C. Davis to help cope with climate warming

B. A rootstock used in the U.S.

C. The name of one of the earliest wine journals originally written in Latin

D. The name of the first grapevine nursery in the U.S., established in upstate New York in the 1700s by French immigrant A.R. Ganzin


Aramon Rupestris Ganzin—better known as AxR—was the notorious rootstock that resultred in billions of dollars of damage in Napa and Sonoma, California, in the 1980s and 90s. The rootstock’s name is a combination of aramon, a grape that belongs to the European species Vitis vinifera, which was crossed with rupestris, a reference to the American grapevine species Vitis rupestris. Ganzin was the man who crossed the two and created the rootstock. Although it was widely recommended in California from the 1950s to the 1980s, AxR1 proved to be susceptible to phylloxera, ushering in a devastating second wave of phylloxera in the state.


A. Vintage Port from Portugal

B. Sauternes from France

C. Pedro Ximénez Sherry from Spain

D. Trockenbeerenauslesen from Germany


If a wine has any natural grape sugar left—that is, if some of the sugar was not converted to alcohol during fermentation—then the wine is said to have residual sugar. In order to be considered a sweet wine (not a table wine), a wine has to have quite a lot of unconverted natural grape sugar. According to European Union legislation, for example, a wine labeled “sweet” must have at least 4.5% residual sugar. Most of Europe’s great sweet wines, however, have considerably more than that. Port, Sauternes, and German TBAs are all sweet, but nothing compares to Spain’s opulent Pedro Ximénez sherries (PX), which have over 40% residual sugar. PX wines are nearly black in color and have a texture as thick as maple syrup. A small glass is more than dessert wine, it is dessert.


A. Wines for every day, wines for cellaring, wines for kings

B. Wines for monks, wines for cardinals, wines for popes

C. Wines for merchants, wines for farmers, wines for magistrates

D. Wines for monks, wines for popes, wines for kings


The wines from the lower part of the slope, which suffered the most rain, were known as cuvées des moines, or “wines for the monks.” Wines from the top of the slope had the least rain, but there the sun did not have a solar panel-like focus. These were called cuvées des cardinals, or “wines for the cardinals.” And last, wines from the preferred middle belt of the slope, which had perfect sun and the right degree of rain runoff, were called cuvées des papes, or “wines for the popes.”


A. Malbec

B. Carmenère

C. Cabernet Franc

D. Petit Verdot


Today considered Chile’s signature grape, carmenère was brought to Chile from Bordeaux in the late 19th century. Chilean landowners and mining barons had begun to showcase their wealth by building wine estates modeled after the grand châteaux of Bordeaux. The Chileans planted vineyards with imported French grapes, most notably cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and carmenère. Indigenous to Bordeaux, carmenère ripens late in the year—so much so that, in Bordeaux it barely ever achieved ripeness, producing wines that tasted more like rhubarb juice than a grand vin. After the phylloxera epidemic in France, it was almost never replanted. But in Chile carmenère thrived in the long, warm growing season.


A. Old Vine

B. Survivor Vine

C. Centenarian Vine

D. Ancestor Vine


Ancestor vines must be at least 125 years old and are considered living tributes to Australia’s European settlers. Penfold’s famous Kalimna “Block 42” (source of both the heritage cuttings planted in Penfolds’ Paso Robles vineyard in 1999, and the cabernet sauvignon blended into the California Collection in 2018) was planted in the Barossa Valley in 1888 and is thought to be the oldest cabernet sauvignon the world over. Given that many of the world’s oldest vines live in the Barossa Valley, it’s fitting that winemakers there were the first in the world to codify what “old” means. For the record: Old Vines are at least thirty-five years of age; Survivor Vines are at least seventy years of age; and—you guessed it—Centenarian Vines are at least one hundred years of age.


A. Duckhorn Wine Company

B. Trefethen Family Vineyards

C. Domaine Chandon

D. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars


Duckhorn Wine Company will be one of the first California wineries to go public since the late 1990s. Duckhorn plans to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “NAPA.” The February announcement reveals the direction in which the California wine industry is heading—from artisanal, family-run estates to something more corporate. Duckhorn, the parent company, now includes Calera and Kosta Browne, in addition to Duckhorn’s line of waterfowl-named brands such as “Decoy” and “Migration.” The few California wineries that have gone public—Robert Mondavi, Chalone, and Ravenswood, among others—rarely fared well in the long run. Most ran afoul of their public shareholders who grew weary of unpredictable earnings and the volatility that comes with agriculture.


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.