The one phrase that almost always precedes a question about a particular old world wine is “I’m not sure how to pronounce it..”. So here I will try to shed some light on some of terms I hear most commonly mispronounced, and how to say them with confidence!
Meritage: A trademarked term used to describe American made Bordeaux style blends. E.g Opus One, Insignia, etc. It’s a conjugation of the words merit and heritage, and is thus pronounced “Mehr-ih-tej”, not “Mehr-ih-tahj”
Hermitage: 100% Syrah from the Rhone Valley in France. Pronounced “Erm-ih-tahj”
Meursault: A chardonnay district in the Burgundy region of France. Pronounced “Merr-so”
Soave: A creamy white wine from north eastern Italy. Pronounced “Swah-vay”
Moscato d’asti: A sparkling sweet white wine from northern Italy. Most people get the Moscato (moh-scah-toh) part, it’s the d’asti that gets the beating. In Italian, anytime you see an apostrophe, it’s pronounced as a runon with the following word. For this example, d’ast = “dAHsti”, with a bit more emphasis on the “ah”. It is not pronounced “dee-ahsti”. The only time it is pronunced “dee” is when you see “di”, as in Brunello di Montalcino.
Cinsault: A red blending grape commonly found in the languedoc wines of France, as well as one of the two parent grapes of Pinotage (Pee-No-Tahj). Pronounced “San-so”
Tempranillo: The dominant red grape of Spain. Pronounced “Temp-rah-nee-yo”
Vinho Verde: A light white wine from Portugal. Pronounced “Vee-no-Vehr-day”
That should get you off to a good start!