May 18 • 6M

Wine rube-snob avoidance

Don’t take wine or yourself too seriously

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Gus Clemens writes a syndicated wine column for Gannett/USA Today network and posts online reviews of wines and stories of interest to wine lovers. He publishes almost daily in his newsletter, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on his website. The Gus Clemens on Wine podcast delivers that material in a warm, user-friendly format.
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Wine rube-snob avoidance

Drinking wine should be fun, not an exercise in snobbish one-upmanship.

Still, when enjoying wine you don’t want to sound stupid, so here are some basic tips to avoid coming across as a wine snob or a wine rube.

• Meritage is the second-fastest growing wine category in America. The name “Meritage” rhymes with heritage and is not pronounced with French twist (mare-ee-TAHJ). The name was coined in early 1980s in America by combining “merit” and “heritage” to identify American Bordeaux-style wines.

Meritage is trademarked and can only be used by members of the Meritage Association. Red Meritage can only be made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and—rarer—St. Macaire, Gros Verdot and Carmenère. If the blend includes any other grape variety, it is, by definition, not a Meritage. Also, to qualify as a Meritage, no single grape variety can make up more than 90% of the blend.

White Meritage can only be made with Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillion, and Muscadelle.

Finally, Meritage must be one of winery’s two most expensive bottlings.

• “Champagne” is the name of sparkling wine made in Champagne region of France. It is  not a generic name for sparkling wine. French winemakers produce Champagne using méthode champenoise (may-TOD shahm-puh-NWAHZ); elsewhere same technique is called traditional method or classic method.

Sparkling wines are called Cava in Spain, Sekt in Germany, sparkling wine in U.S., and Crémant when made in France, but not in Champagne.

By the way, French pronounce Champagne “Shahm-PAHN-yuh”, but Sham-PAIN works here.

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