What’s in a name?


Wine can be confusing. Take a stroll down any supermarket wine aisle and you will find labels that use the grape variety as the name, or wines that have a different name altogether yet are still made with the same grape variety. What is going on?

It may seem random, but in fact there’s a reason why wines are named differently, and the name can tell you something important about the wine; namely where it was made.

I don’t mean the exact place, but rather whether the wine was made in the New World or the Old World.

Wines made in the New World, such as America, will be named after the principal grape variety that is used. Whilst wines made in the Old World, such as France, will be named after the area that the wine was made. Simple enough, but why do the two areas choose to name their wines differently?

Old World producers name their wines this way as there is the belief that the composition of the soil, and the area’s geographical location influence how the wine tastes. For example, they believe that a wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes tastes different when grown in France than in Italy, and if both wines were given the same name then it would not distinguish the two wines adequately. They believe that by naming them by the geographical area that they were made, that they can make it clear to the customer what to expect.

On the other hand, New World wine producers believe that the principal grape variety that the wine is made from is the most important information, and use this to name their wines instead. A simpler method perhaps, but one that helps the customer know, at a glance, that the wine was made by a New World wine producer and will have the characteristics of that grape.

What do you think about how wines are named? Can you tell the difference between a Cabernet Sauvignon made in France, and one made in Italy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Source: Vine Pair, https://vinepair.com/wine-101/wines-named/