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A First Course in Wine: From Grape to Glass. Copyright 2013; Race Point Publishers, NY. 224 pages. Forward by Mario Batali.

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What’s in a name? The grapes behind the labels

What’s in a name?  The linguistic nature of wine labels can be discouraging for the avid student.  There’s little joy to exploring wines when one knows little of what’s inside or fails to have the resources to find out which grapes are responsible for the deliciousness in the glass.  Names such as Bordeaux, Champagne, Rioja, and Chianti are all appellations which produce wines using certain grape varieties.  Sometimes the wines are blends of different grapes and other times the wines are produced solely from one variety, and thus are called, “varietal wines”.  It all depends upon the rules defining each wine zone.

The following video is a commentary by Andrea Farinetti of Giacomo Borgogno e Figli Winery opining on the grape used to make the famous wines from the Barolo appellation in northwestern Italy.

Below is a list of the more common appellations with their respective grape varieties used for wine production.  May this serve as a roadmap as you delve deeper into the splendors of the vine…

Sancerre  (Loire Valley, France) – White:  Sauvignon Blanc; Red:  Pinot Noir

Burgundy (France) – White:  Chardonnay; Red:  Pinot Noir

Barolo (Piedmont, Italy) – Red:  Nebbiolo

Chianti (Tuscany, Italy) – Red:  Sangiovese

Rioja (Spain) – White: Viura; Red:  Tempranillo

Ribera del Duero (Spain) –  Tempranillo

Pouilly-Fume (Loire Valley, France) – White:  Sauvignon Blanc

Pouilly-Fuissé (Burgundy, France) –  White:  Chardonnay

Taurasi (Campania, Italy)– Red:  Aglianico

Lujan de Cuyo (Mendoza, Argentina) – Red:  Malbec

Champagne (France) – Sparkling:  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier

Bordeaux (France) – White:  Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon; Red:  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot

Chablis (Burgundy, France) – White:  Chardonnay

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