How to Pronounce Cuvée & 10 Other Wine Words

How to Pronounce Cuvee & 10 Other Wine WordsToday on the blog we welcome back Naomi Fuller who is sharing with us a struggle she had recently when it came to ordering wine. She has put a great post together which will help anyone who may wonder, how do I pronounce that wine?


On a recent visit to a pub in Vic Park Hotel (Perth), I noticed that they were offering a number of sparkling wines on the drinks menu. Hooray! It isn’t often that you see so many different sparklings’ on offer at a venue I would consider more of a blokes pub.

My only hesitation in ordering a sparkling wine, was the fact that I wanted the Cuvée?

But how do I pronounce this again?

I had a complete wine blank!

Oh Deer This is Embarrassing Meme

I was in a panic.

Was I to avoid the drink altogether so I wouldn’t have to pronounce the name? Point to the wine on the list so I didn’t have to say anything? Or attempt to pronounce the word and put my pride aside for one moment?

I’m sure I’m not the first person to experience this…

So rather than let you live through a similar embarrassing situation, below are 10 common wine varieties popping up on wine menus around the country and how to pronounce them.

Let’s begin with my faux pas, Cuvée…

How Should You Pronounce Cuvée?

“Coo vay”

What is Cuvée?

  • A French term, meaning “tank”.
  • Can be used to imply prestige or quality.
  • Cuvée Champagne is a specific blend of wines, from various vats that go into a Champagne house’s particular recipe, or a special blend of the house; Creating the same taste year after year.
  • The term is not officially regulated, and can appear on the labels of any wines.
  • Can refer to either sparkling or still wines.
  • “cuvée speciale” or “tête de cuvée,” has also been used in wine labels to denote higher quality.

How Should You Pronounce Chianti?

“KEE-ahn-tee”

What is Chianti?

  • An old world, dry red wine from the Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy.
  • The region and the wine date back hundreds of years to at least the 13th Century.
  • Named after the region, not the grape variety used to create the wine, which is Sangiovese.
  • To be considered a Chianti wine, it must be produced in the Chianti region and be made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes.
  • The two common variations of Chianti are Chianti and Chianti Classico.
  • Chianti Classico is considered to be a bit more refined and higher end than Chianti
  • The black rooster that appears on many Chianti Classico labels, signifies the peace between Florence and Siena.

How Should You Pronounce Pinot Noir?

“PEE-noh nwar”

What is Pinot Noir?

  • Pinot Noir ranks with some of the oldest grapes in the world – over 1000 years older than Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Pinot Noir was born in the Burgundy region of France.
  • Pinot Noir is often noted for its natural ability to be lighter than other red wines and have low tannin.
  • Pinot Noir producers call it red Burgundy, after the region where it’s made.
  • Pinot Noir is one of the grapes, along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier that you’ll find in most Champagnes
  • Pinot Noir is the holy grail of winemakers and wine lovers, but it’s also the diva of the wine world – temperamental to grow and difficult to make, throwing up challenges at every step.
  • Cool regions in Victoria have found great success with Pinot Noir as well as the Great Southern in WA and Tasmania.

Fun fact: Don’t name pets ‘Pinot’ because the ‘no’ in the word can be highly confusing for an animal if you are also using ‘no’ when telling them off.

How Should You Pronounce Rioja?

“REE-oh-hah”

What is Rioja?

  • Rioja is an old world wine from Spain, taking its name from the region where it is produced.
  • Known for its structure and tannins.
  • Made from a blend of grape varieties, with Tempranillo the dominant grape.
  • Rioja has a wine control board, called the Consejo Regulador DOCa Rioja, who inspects the quality of producers to ensure consistency.
  • There are 4 different main styles of Rioja wine – Rioja formerly “vin joven”, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

How Should You Pronounce Sangiovese?

“SAN-joe-veh-se”

What is Sangiovese?

  • Sangiovese is an Italian red wine grape varietal.
  • The ‘i’ is hardly pronounced, as such the pronunciation is San-jo-vay-zee.
  • Italy’s most popular grape, it is most well-known as the primary varietal used in Chianti.
  • Accounts for around 10% of grapes planted in Italian vineyards.
  • The name of this grape, literally translates as ‘blood of Jove’, after the supreme god in Roman mythology.

How Should You Pronounce Voignier?

“vee-ON-yay”

What is Viognier?

  • A full-bodied white wine that originated in southern France.
  • Most loved for its perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine and honeysuckle,
  • If you love white wines like Chardonnay, you will love Viognier.
  • Viognier produces the best wines when it grows in sunny regions with temperatures moderated by cool nights or nearby bodies of water.
  • Viognier was brought to France by the Romans but the name is very much French.
  • Viognier also doesn’t cellar all that well, only three to four years by some estimates.
  • Australia can be given credit for helping to keep Viognier wine on the map, as the variety almost died out.

How Should You Pronounce Tempranillo?

“tem prah NEE yoh”

What is Tempranillo?

  • Red wine originating from Spain.
  • Spain is very proud of its indigenous Tempranillo grape; they have been making it into wine for over 2,000 years.
  • Most commonly grown in the Navarra and Rioja regions, which are about 300 miles west of Barcelona, Spain.
  • Takes its name from the Spanish word temprana, meaning early – a reference to the fact that it ripens earlier than most Spanish red grapes.
  • Tempranillo is the main grape variety used to make Rioja.

How Should You Pronounce Montepulciano?

“mon tae pul chee AH noh”

What is Montepulciano?

  • A red wine grape variety indigenous to the Tuscany region of Italy.
  • It can be confused with Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, a regional name for the Sangiovese-based wine in Tuscany.
  • Montepulciano is the second most planted red grape in Italy – after Sangiovese.
  • It is one of the primary grapes used to produce Offida Rosso and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
  • The grape grows well in the warmer climates of central and southern Italy, as the grape has a tendency to ripen late in the growing season.
  • There is an Italian town called Montepulciano, which produces a wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – this wine is mostly made from Sangiovese, and doesn’t include any of the Montepulciano grape.
  • In 2016, at the International Wine Competition in London, for the first time, Gold medals were given to Montepulciano outside of Italy; South Australian wineries Bird in Hand and Mr Riggs.

How Should You Pronounce Gewürztraminer?

“guh-voorts-trah-mee-ner”

What is Gewürztraminer?

  • One of 18 Classic Noble Grapes.
  • Surprisingly rare wine grape with only about 20,000 acres worldwide.
  • Gewürztraminer is the grown-up version of Moscato.
  • Gewürztraminer isn’t always sweet, however, because Gewürztraminer is an aromatic grape like Muscat (Moscato), Riesling and Torrontés, it will have an inherently sweet flavour simply due to the smell.
  • The grape originated in Germany and is one of the 4 Grand Cru grapes of Alsace, produced in the region for hundreds of years.
  • Gewürztraminer is often shortened to ‘Traminer’ or ‘Gewurzts’ in Australia.

How Should You Pronounce Nebbiolo?

“Nebby-oh-low”

What is Nebbiolo?

  • Originally from north-west Italy, a region known as Piemonte.
  • Thought to take its name from nebbia, Italian for the fogs that characteristically drape the Piemonte hills in autumn.
  • Has been grown and valued since at least the 14th century.
  • The grape is late-ripening and early to flower.
  • Nebbiolo wines are translucent.
  • Nebbiolo is the sole grape used to make Barolo and Barbaresco wine.
  • To make Barolo (King of Wine) or Barbaresco (Queen of) wine, the vineyard must be based in the Piedmont region; although Nebbiolo is grown all over the region, not just in the villages that use it to create the high-end wines.

Bonus

How Should You Pronounce Moët?

“moh-ett”

Check out this YouTube clip by Spitbucket, interviewing Benoit Gouez – the chef de cave of Moët & Chandon on his trip to Australia for the launch of the 2002 vintage.

Now that you have seen the list, are there any other wine varieties that you’re seeing on wine menus that you’re having trouble pronouncing or have you got a handy hint to remember how to pronounce others?

Grab a glass of wine and let me know what you think...