A. The floral aromas winemakers hope to capture in young Sherries known as Manzanillas

B. The bottom layer of barrels (“on the floor”) that holds the oldest wines in the solera aging system

C. Sherries that are sweetened by blending dry styles of Sherry with sweet wines or grape syrup

D. The film of native yeast cells that forms on the surface of an aging Sherry in barrel


While flor does mean “flower” in Spanish, with regard to Sherry, it refers to the thin layer of native yeast cells that are allowed to “bloom” on top of manzanilla and fino Sherries as they age in casks. Flor acts to prevent oxidation and also contributes a unique tanginess to the wine. In the production of most wines around the world, as the contents of barrels slowly evaporate throughout the aging process, barrels are kept topped up with wine in order to minimize the contact the wine has with air and avoid spoilage organisms. Two traditional practices are necessary to support the development of flor. Firstly, barrels are only filled to four-fifths of their capacity. Secondly, the solera principle of blending various ages of wines is essential, as the regular addition of new wine supplements the transfer of nutrients and keeps the flor thriving. In case the flor dies off (either naturally or intentionally), the sherry will have air contact and is then classified as an Amontillado, will undergo an additional fortification, and continue aging in an oxidative way.


A. Pythagorean Wine Cup

B. Pascal’s Wine Cup

C. Newtonian Wine Cup

D. Archimedean Wine Cup


The idea of this ancient prank is deceptively simple: if you pour a moderate amount of wine in the cup, you can drink without incident. But if you pour above a certain point, the wine will all drain out through the stem before you’ve even had a sip. While it’s difficult to know for sure who the creator of this devious drinking vessel was, most scholars agree it was Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician who lived between 570 and 495 BCE. According to one legend, Pythagoras created the cup to punish his peers who greedily over-filled their cups of wine. Other theories suggest that he wished to remind people to drink in moderation. The design of the Pythagorean Cup features a small column in the middle of the cup’s bowl, directly over the hollow stem of the cup. The column conceals a U-shaped chamber leading from a hole at its base in the cup bowl, to the bottom of the stem. As the cup is being filled, the level of wine in both the bowl and the column rise equally. When the cup is filled beyond the height of the column, a siphon is created, pushing the wine from the cup into the column and out through the hole in the stem, draining the entire cup. Whew!


A. Names of shades in the new “Colors of the Vineyard” line of lipsticks from French cosmetics giant L’Oréal

B. The original names, in old French, for merlot, cabernet franc and pinot noir respectively

C. The names of apples historically used in Calvados

D. The historic names French barrel makers used for the shades of reddish mahogany color that signaled that the inside of a barrel had been toasted correctly


Unlike its French cousins Cognac and Armagnac, both of which are distilled from grapes, Calvados (CAL-va-dose) is distilled from apples (and sometimes pears). But not just any apples. Approximately 800 or so heirloom varieties of apples grow in Normandy, the French region most famous for this drink. Of these, most producers would grow 20 to 25 different varieties, among them, Douce Moen, Kermerrien, Douce Coet Ligne, Bedan, Binet Rouge, Frequin Rouge, Marie Menard, and Petit Jaune. The apples fall into four flavor categories: sweet, bittersweet, bitter, and acidic. By distilling different kinds of apples in different proportions, the Calvados maker crafts a subtle, complex apple spirit. About 17 pounds of apples are needed to make one bottle of Calvados.


A. Amarone

B. Ruby Port

C. Madeira

D. Sherry


Big, rich, and grand maybe—but Amarone is not fortified. Amarone or as it’s officially named, Amarone della Valpolicella, is the highly concentrated, powerful, dry red wine of the Veneto region of Italy, made using the regional grape varieties corvina, corvinone, and rondinella (and sometimes others). The grapes are dried before they are fermented according to a traditional and painstaking method known as appassimento. During this process, the grapes are spread on mats in cool lofts where they will lose 40% of their moisture. The grapes dry for up to 120 days. This process raisinates and concentrates them before they are slowly pressed and then ferment for a languorous 35-50 days. Amarones can age 40 years or more, and because they are intense wines, many wine drinkers hold them for about 10 years before drinking.

You can read Karen’s past review of the ALLEGRINI Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2009 here. And watch her #TasteWithKaren virtual tasting with CEO Marilisa Allegrini here.


A. Madeira

B. Virginia “Claret”

C. Champagne

D. Bordeaux


Drunk by the founding fathers during the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Madeira was also what Francis Scott Key sipped as he composed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” George Washington (who reportedly drank a pint every night with dinner), Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin all adored it, as did John Adams (who wrote to his wife, Abigail, about the copious amounts they consumed during the Continental Congress). By the end of the eighteenth century, nearly a fourth of all the Madeira produced was being exported to the American colonies. The unbridled American passion for Madeira was certainly a testament to its compelling flavor. But Madeira’s popularity was equally based on something far more mundane: taxes. As of 1665, British governing authorities in the colonies had banned the importation of European goods, unless they were shipped on British ships that had sailed from British ports (and paid British taxes). Merchandise shipped from Madeira was exempted. Merchants in Madeira took full advantage of the loophole, establishing close trading relationships with merchants in Baltimore, Boston, New York, Savannah, Charleston, and Philadelphia.


A. Is made from a blend of wines from chardonnay, pinot noir, and meunier, unlike vintage Champagne wines which are made from just one of those grapes in an especially good vintage year

B. Is primarily made from chardonnay in good but not great vintages

C. Is a blend of dozens of different wines from the same year but from potentially dozens of different villages (crus)

D. Is a blend of wines from several years and from several different vineyards and villages (crus)


Non-vintage Champagne (designated NV on the wine’s label) is a blend of wines from different years’ harvests and from different vineyards and villages (crus) within the Champagne region. Non-vintage Champagne wines represent the vast majority of Champagne wines produced. (By contrast, vintage Champagne represents a little less than 6% of exports). Non-vintage Champagne wines are valued for their consistency year to year. By blending multiple vintages, each Champagne maker can maintain a “house style” that consumers can depend on. Amazingly, in some cases, the range of vintages in a non-vintage Champagne can span up to 20 years. By law, non-vintage Champagne wines need to age on the yeast lees for at least 15 months, although most are aged longer. The minimum aging for a vintage cuvée is three years on the lees.


A. 15%

B. 4%

C. 35%

D. 1%


The most renowned winegrowing region in the U.S. is also one of the smallest: Only 4% of California’s wine grape harvest comes from Napa Valley, which in turn accounts for a mere 0.4% of the world’s wine production. (If California were a separate country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine producer.) While the total size of the wine region is 500,000 acres (202,350 hectares), only 46,000 acres (18,600 hectares) are planted with grapevines. Despite its small scale, Napa is home to half of the world’s 12 recognized soil types, producing great diversity among the 35 different grape varieties represented.


A. Were all in existence in France before the French Revolution

B. Have leaves that end in ten “teeth” along the outer edge of the leaf

C. Are trained to climb up trees so that they rise 30 or more feet in the air

D. Are red grape varieties with red skins and red flesh


Teinturier (TON-ter-ee-AYE), French for “dyed or stained,” varieties are the result of rare natural mutations that produce grapes with red flesh (pulp) as well as red skins. Most red grape varieties have red skins, but white flesh. Among the leading teinturier varieties are alicante bouschet, saperavi, and chambourcin. Alicante bouschet (ah-lee-CAHNT boo-SHAY) is the most well-known, long used to add deeper color to inexpensive wines made from prolific varieties that were paler in shade. Saperavi, the leading variety in the Republic of Georgia, on the other hand, makes mostly single-varietal wines with age-worthy potential. Chambourcin (SHAM-boor-sin), a French-American hybrid popular in Canada, appeared in the early 1960s, bred for its disease and cold-resistant properties. During the 1920s and 1930s, as much as a third of California’s entire wine grape production was teinturiers. During Prohibition, a provision in The Volstead Act, allowed households to make up to 200 gallons of wine a year for personal consumption. Virtually overnight, demand among average Americans for wine grapes exploded, sending California growers scrambling to plant grape varieties hardy enough for the cross-country railroad journeys. It was the red pulped varieties that were known to possess the antioxidant qualities that kept spoilage to a minimum. Following Prohibition’s repeal, the market for these grapes dried up and their vineyards were replanted with European noble varieties.


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.