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A. Germany

B. Czech Republic

C. China

D. United States

B.

This was a tough one! According to World Population Review, as of 2020 (the latest figures available), on a per capita basis, the Czech Republic took the lead with 48 gallons (182 liters) per person. (The Czech Republic was where pilsners were invented.) In fact, in 2020, beer was cheaper than bottled water in the Czech Republic. The next three countries (in rank order) were Austria, Poland, and Romania. Germany came in 5th. The US ranked 17th, and China, 25th.

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A. A small bottle of wine holding 187 milliliters

B. A tool that can be inserted into barrels of sweet wines to draw out a sample

C. A device inserted near the roots of vines to measure water availability

D. A round object that can be inserted into hoses to clean them

A.

Also known as a piccolo or split, a snipe is a quarter-bottle of wine (187 milliliters). It’s smaller obviously than a demi or half, which is a half-bottle (375 milliliters). In parts of Great Britain, a favorite late afternoon pick-me-up is a “snipe of Champagne and a scone.”

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A. Discuss the current role and potential future use of hybrids in viticulture

B. Discuss the typical regimen from harvest through aging in the making of a Grand Cru Classé wine

C. Delineate the steps involved in making an oak barrel from forest to final use by a winemaker

D. Discuss how color molecules may influence tannin in the winemaking process

A.

Yes, the Master of Wine Exam is hard. And Question A was just one of the initial “assessment” questions to get into the program. Once a candidate passes to Stage Two,  the difficulty of the questions gets insane. But each year a number of brilliant people do indeed pass. Today there are 418 Masters of Wine working in the wine industry in 30 countries.  The Institute of Masters of Wine was founded in England nearly 70 years ago.

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A. Rural wineries working with indigenous grapes

B. Cabernet Sauvignon

C. Syrah

D. Irrigation

C.

For three quarters of a century, the most iconic—and expensive—Australian Shiraz has been Grange, made by the powerful wine firm Penfolds. (Shiraz is the name commonly used in Australia for the grape Syrah). Grange was first made in 1951 by Penfolds’s then winemaker, Max Schubert, who, after a tasting trip to Bordeaux, returned to Australia with an experiment in mind: Could he make a wine similar in structure, complexity, and ageability to a top Bordeaux—but using Shiraz (rather than Cabernet) grapes, and using American oak rather than French oak (as in Bordeaux)? Schubert’s bosses were unconvinced, and in fact told him to abandon the project. He carried on anyway. Today Grange is not only one of the country’s most famous wines; it also has one of the longest track records when it comes to aging. Some wines from the 1950s made by Max Schubert are still in amazing condition.

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A. Robert Mondavi Winery

B. Schramsberg

C. Beringer

D. Stony Hill

D.

Stony Hill, a small cult winery on the lower hills of Napa Valley’s Spring Mountain, planted Chardonnay in 1947 and became famous for creating the first mailing list of customers who regularly bought the wine. (The mailing list was handwritten on index cards). Schramsberg Vineyards planted chardonnay for its sparkling wines in 1965. The Robert Mondavi Winery’s first chardonnay was planted in 1970. And Beringer, which was founded in 1876, first made chardonnay in 1978 from grapes planted a few years earlier.

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A. Their wine industries were all once dominated by large co-operatives

B. More white wine than red is produced in each place

C. They are all producers of famous sweet wines

D. They are all considered New World wine regions

C.

Some of the most luscious sweet wines in the world come from these three countries. Canada is famous for its ice wine, which, like eiswein from Austria and Germany, must be made from grapes frozen naturally on the vine. Hungary is the home of Tokaji Aszú, the first sweet wine in the world made from botrytized grapes. (In this, Hungary predates Sauternes by roughly two centuries). And South Africa is renowned for Constantia, first made in the late 1600s in the Coastal Region near Cape Town. Canadian ice wine is made from a variety of grapes, but ice wines made from Riesling and Vidal are especially prized. Tokaji Aszú is made primarily from the Hungarian grape Furmint. And Constantia is made from Muscat de Frontignan.

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A. Along the Pacific Ocean coast in Patagonia, Chile

B. Along the coast of the Cape of Good Hope, in South Africa

C. Along the Indian Ocean coast in southwestern Australia

D. In southern Argentina, about 1,000 miles from Antarctica

C.

At the southwestern tip of the state of Western Australia, lies the wine region known as the Great Southern. The coastline borders the Indian Ocean. Wine grapes were first planted in this remote part of Australia in 1859. But the region only began to draw world attention (and Australian wine awards) as of the 1970s. Today there are about 70 producers—mostly small, family-owned estates—as well as many young innovative winemakers. The Great Southern (which is south of the better-known Margaret River region in Western Australia) specializes in dry Riesling and cool-climate Shiraz.

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A. It was once a phrase that signaled “alarm” as when the hairs of a dog are raised

B. It originally referred to an old English grog of potent hard liquors that made people feel numb to any (headache) pain

C. It originally referred to a treatment for a bite from a dog with rabies

D. It refers to the utterly slim (like the width of a dog’s hair) chance of feeling ok the next morning after drinking too much

C.

As almost everyone who has ever drunk too much knows, “hair of the dog” is a colloquial expression for drinking an alcoholic beverage as a way of curing a hangover. (A stiff Bloody Mary is many drinkers’ first choice). The original expression referred to a method of treating a rabid dog bite by placing hairs of the dog into the bite wound. This was just one example of the ancient medical theory similia similibus curantur (Latin for “like cures like”), which is the basic tenet of homeopathy.

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A. Grand Cru

B. Premier Cru

C. Premier Grand Cru

D. Cru Exceptionel

A.

Ah, the French. So many classification systems. In this case, the Côte de Beaune is the southern part of the 30-mile-long escarpment known as the Côte d’Or, from which come all of Burgundy’s most renowned wines. The top vineyards in the Côte de Beaune (and in the northern part of the Côte d’Or called the Côte de Nuits) are designated Grand Cru. There are only 33 Grand Cru vineyards in all of Burgundy. The most famous Grand Cru is the one every wine lover has heard of: the Romanée-Conti vineyard in the village of Vosne-Romanée.

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A. The high acidity in sparkling wines from southern England

B. The relatively low acidity in some Champagne wines that were originally made for the British market

C. The artificial flavor of wines that have been manually acidified with tartaric acid in order to boost their low natural acidity

D. It’s a euphemism for wines that are very high in alcohol which masks the natural acidity in the wine, causing that acidity to seem almost nonexistent

A.

England’s sparkling wine producers commonly describe their wines as having “English acidity,” by which they mean—a lot of it. Many English sparklers clock in at 8 to 9 grams of acidity per liter; Champagne by comparison often comes in at 5 to 6 grams. The best English sparkling wines, as a result, are racy, nervy, starched, crisp and have a nice “bite.” By the way, the meteoric rise of a small but significant sparkling wine industry in England has been one of the 21st century’s most unlikely if inspiring surprises. If you haven’t yet tried a sparkling wine from southern England (where the soils are an extension of the limestone soils found in Champagne), you must. The wines are fantastic. My favorites include Gusbourne, Nyetimber, and Digby—all available in the U.S.

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A. Italy, France, Spain, United States, Australia

B. France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, South Africa

C. Italy, Spain, France, Australia, Argentina

D. Italy, France, Spain, Australia, United States

A.

According to the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine) 2021 data, Italy contributes 19.3% of the wine made in the world, France 14.5%, Spain 13.6%, the US 9.3%, and Australia 5.5%. Together, Italy, France, and Spain account for almost half of the entire global wine production.

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A. An underground cellar where the oldest wines are kept

B. A barrel used to age Sherry

C. A cigar-shaped tool for sampling old Riojas

D. The remaining solids leftover after the white grapes for Cava are pressed

B.

So-called “butts” are 600-liter (160-gallon) American oak barrels used in the Jerez (Sherry) region of Spain for aging Sherry. Butts are nearly three times larger than a Bordeaux barrel, and are usually painted jet-black. Because the butts are arranged in rows four or five barrels high, and because a typical Sherry bodega has many thousands of such barrels, the visual impression is often startling. Butts are also known as botas in Jerez.

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A. The French word for “shatter”—that is, the failure of grapes to develop because the flowers that would have become the grapes remained unfertilized

B. A rough-and-ready workingman’s wine, notably drunk in bars in Burgundy

C. A licorice-flavored French liqueur with a cloudy greenish-yellow color

D. The general Italian term for wines made from grapes that have been intentionally dried by laying out the clusters on straw mats or hanging them up in special drying rooms

C.

God forbid you find yourself in a café in southern France this summer and not in the mood to drink rosé. But just in case, there is another famous, well-loved libation that’s famous in that area—Pastis, a mild licorice-flavored liqueur served as an aperitif with a carafe of ice water. (Pastis gets its licoricey flavor from star anise.) When the water is added to the pastis, the drink immediately turns ominously cloudy. (A related more strongly flavored liqueur—Absinthe—gets its licoricey flavor from a substance once, but no longer, banned–wormwood). As for (A), the failure of grapes to be fertilized, that is known as coulure in French. A rustic wine served in Burgundy’s bars (B) is called passetoutgrains and is a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. And answer D is the definition of the Italian term passito.

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A. Italian Lambrusco

B. Spanish Cava

C. South African Cap Classique

D. French Crémant

A.

Lambrusco is usually what the Italians call frizzante (fizzy), not quite sparkling enough to be considered spumante (sparkling). Most is made by the Charmat method in large pressurized tanks. That said, a few top examples are made by the traditional (Champagne) method. Either way, Lambrusco is absolutely delicious especially when paired with charcuterie and cheeses (as the Italians do).

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A. Sweet

B. Bitter

C. Salty

D. Fruity

D.

The five tastes are sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami (a Japanese word usually defined as savoriness). All five tastes are associated with specific receptors within your taste buds. Fruitiness, by contrast, is a simply a descriptive characteristic for a wine or food that is evocative of fruit flavors.

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A. A wine from Vouvray

B. A grape once used extensively in California jug wines

C. A common grape variety planted in South Africa

D. A grape variety historically grown in Sancerre

D.

Chenin Blanc is highly regarded in France and especially in the Loire Valley, but it’s not the grape variety that makes Sancerre. (That would be Sauvignon Blanc.)  Elegant and long-lived, Chenin Blanc is the grape that makes the Loire Valley appellations Vouvray and Savennières. It’s also grown throughout the Western Cape of South Africa where it can make stellar wines, especially from old vines. In the past, Chenin Blanc in the U.S. has often been grown at high yields and used for generic jug wines.

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A. Using 200% new oak in making Chardonnay (as in: going off the Deep End)

B. The lowest part of a vineyard where the soil is deeper and richer thanks to erosion

C. The westernmost part of the Anderson Valley, near the Pacific Ocean

D. The worry winemakers experience when they attempt to let a wine ferment with ambient yeast, but the yeast fails to work

C.

The Deep End is the nickname for the coolest, westernmost part of the California’s Anderson Valley AVA in Mendocino. The area is an up-and-coming region for elegant Pinot Noirs and cool-climate Chardonnays.

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A. Darker, more tannic, more acidic

B. Lighter in body, less tannic, lower in alcohol

C. Darker, fuller in body, more tannic

D. Darker, sweeter, more bitter

C.

Red Bordeaux wines are made principally from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot—all of which have more color pigments in their skins than does Pinot Noir (the red grape of Burgundy). And while alcohol levels in Burgundy have been climbing compared to past years, most Bordeaux is still slightly fuller in body. Finally, all three red Bordeaux grapes are also more tannic than Pinot Noir. And finally, while the alcohol levels in Burgundy have been climbing compared to years past, most Bordeaux is still slightly higher in alcohol.

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A. An implement inserted through the bung hole of a barrel in order to draw out wine to be evaluated

B. A shallow tasting cup historically used by winemakers in wine cellars

C. A device for helping to decant a wine until its flavors are very expressive

D. A tasting kit used by Master Sommelier and Master of Wine candidates whereby small amounts of prestigious wines are rebottled to be tasted as part of the candidate’s study program

B.

Silver, shallow-sided tastevins (tasting cups) were invented possibly as far back as the fifteenth century, for use by winemakers who were tasting wines from casks in dark cellars. The cups were more portable and less fragile than glasses would have been. More importantly, they had circular indentations in their sides that reflected candlelight across the metal base of the cup and made it possible to determine, in a dark cellar, the clarity of a wine just drawn from the barrel. Until the 2000s, many sommeliers in Europe and the U.S. hung tastevins around their necks (like necklaces).  It’s rare to see a tastevin (pronounced in French as TAS-te-van) being worn by a sommelier today.

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A. Because in French, the term “extra” derives from extraneous, meaning “outside of dryness” or “other than dry”

B. Extra dry Champagne is not sweeter than brut Champagne

C. Because extra dry Champagne was created before brut Champagne

D. Because of a long-forgotten mix-up in the French wine industry in the 1800s

C.

At one time, extra dry Champagne was the driest, but as time went on, newer drier styles of Champagne—including brut—were created. The evolving styles of Champagne began to occur in the early nineteenth century when more and more Champagne firms, hoping to capture new markets and increase sales, positioned Champagne as an aperitif, perfect to begin an evening, rather than a sweet wine to have at the end. First came half-dry Champagnes—called demi-sec. When these proved successful, producers began making sec, or dry, Champagnes (these were still fairly sweet by today’s standards). By the 1840s, the British in particular began to request even drier Champagnes. Producers responded with “extra-dry” (a term in English rather than French) Champagnes made just for the British market. As other countries caught up with the British preference for dry bubbly, the French began to make an even drier version of Champagne—called brut. Which is how brut turns out to be drier than extra-dry. Today, of course there’s an even drier style of Champagne than brut. It’s called “extra brut.”