Helpful wine terms to know – and maybe a few you shouldn’t.

VARIETAL – refers to the specific grape that makes up a wine and is usually displayed on the bottle (e.g., Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.)

WINERY GOLF –  a game of attempting to visit 18 wineries in a single day.

RHONE VARIETALS – variety of grapes specific to the Rhone River Valley of France.  Red Rhone varietals include: Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Carignane, Mourvedre, Cinsaut and CounoiseWhite Rhone varietals are Viognier, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Picpoul Blanc

SYRAH (also known as Shiraz) – The most planted Rhone varietal in California.  Its aromas are of smoke, bacon fat, black fruit, and crushed rock, with flavors of blueberry, blackberry, black olive and spice.  Full bodied and substantial tannin.

PETITE SIRAH (neither petite, nor syrah) – A cross between Syrah and Peloursin.  It produces a wine dark in color (bluish-red hues) with great extraction and big tannins that will reward those with the patience to cellar.

GRENACHE (Gruh-NOSH) – The world’s second most planted wine grape and makes wines with aromas of red fruits, licorice and black pepper; flavors of cherry and spice, good acids and lush texture.

CARIGNANE (Care-een-YAHN) – Produces wines high in acidity, color and tannin, and is best in old vineyards where it is often found inter-planted with Petite Sirah and Zinfandel

MOURVEDRE (More-VEHD-ruh) – The latest ripening Rhone varietal and has aromas of red fruit, chocolate, leather and earth, flavors of plum, currant and spice. Wines with Mourvedre age gracefully to flavors of truffles and game

CINSAUT (San-soh) – Tends to be low in tannin, and is often added to blends to add a spicy component. It is particularly well-suited to the production of rose, and produces wines that are aromatic and fruity

COUNOISE (COON-wahz) – Brings bright brambly fruit, good acids, sweet spice and soft tannins to southern Rhone blends