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Same Grape, Different Name: How to figure out what grape is in the bottle.

Same Grape, Different Name: How to figure out what grape is in the bottle.


There are lots of reasons something might have different names in different places. Some are obvious. Eggplant is called aubergine in France because English and French are different languages. Some are less clear-cut, like how a sweater in NYC is a ‘jumper’ in London. But when it comes to having a mind-bending array of aliases, wine grapes take the cake.


As a result, decoding wine lists and bottle labels can feel overwhelming. Sure, it doesn’t take a lot to figure out that pinot noir and pinot nero are the same, but how about blaufränkisch and lemberger, or chenin blanc and pineau de la Loire and Savennières? Let’s simplify things a bit.


Old World vs New World


The most helpful point to understand is that ‘Old World’ (European) wines have their region stated on the label, while ‘New World’ (not Europe) wines state their grape variety. Chardonnay from Napa says so, but chardonnay from France is labeled with places like Chablis or Bourgogne or Meursault. Barolo is nebbiolo, Beaujolais is gamay, Brunello is sangiovese, and so on.


Chardonnay

Mayacamas, 'Mt. Veeder' Chardonnay 2017 $40

Moreau-Naudet, Chablis 2020 $42


Grenache

Newfound, Grenache 'Gravels' 2019 $45

Domaine Le Sang des Cailloux, Vacqueyras 2019 $39


Different Languages


This one is pretty straightforward, and there’s not a ton we can do to help besides laying out some common grape varieties in various languages. Grenache and mourvedre are garnacha and monstrell in Spain, syrah is shiraz in Australia, while pinot grigio is pinot gris in France and grauburgunder in Germany.


Local Quirks


Now things get really tricky. Côt isn’t French for malbec, and yet that’s what the French call Argentina’s most famous grape. País in Chile is known as Mission in the U.S. thanks to the 16th century missionaries who brought it over from Spain (where it’s known as Listán Prieto). In Northern Italy, you’ll hear vermentino called pigato and favorita, while in Portugal, Trousseau is known as bastardo.


Bruna, Pigato ‘Majè’ 2021 $32

Macatho, País 'Segundo Flores' 2019 $36

Arnot Roberts, Trousseau North Coast 2019 $39





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