Wine Wednesday Quick Quiz Answers

Here are the correct answers for the Quick Quiz:

chef cutting meat


Which three grape varietals are indigenous to Italy?

  • Malvasia di Sardegna, Montepulciano, Ribolla Gialla
  • Tempranillo, Garnacha, Macabeo
  • Gewürztraminer, Huxelrebe, Ortega
  • Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional, Souzão

Wine is firmly entrenched as part of Italy’s national identity – from the climate and geological diversity to the fact that most Italians will have grown up with wine at the dinner table (and possibly a grandfather or grandmother who tried their hand – literally – at squeezing a few grapes in their time, to make a house pour).

But Italy’s single greatest blessing is its astonishing number of native grape varieties. No other country comes close to Italy’s 500-plus officially identified grapes. To put things in perspective, that figure is greater than the sum of all those native to France, Spain and Greece, which are second, third and fourth on the list.

Roughly 28% of the world’s wine grapes are Italian, and even though many of these varieties are reduced to scattered plots of vines here and there, Italy makes wine in commercially relevant numbers from many of them.

chef cutting meat


One of southern Spain’s most famous exports (besides tapas, of course!) is:

  • Sherry
  • Vino Tinto
  • Vino Blanco
  • Fino

Sherry, whose name is derived from the Andalusian town of Jerez, is one of southern Spain’s most famous exports. Sherry is a complex and mysterious wine that goes through processes that are considered strange or even problematic in most other wine regions. After the initial fermentation, which involves Palomino, Moscatel, and/or Pedro Ximénez grapes, the wines are mixed with distilled alcohol to stop the fermentation process (Sherry is in the family of fortified wines alongside Port and Madeira). Sherries are then aged in barrels, where they are exposed to both natural yeasts and oxygen, giving them a wide range of flavors unusual to other wines, from dry salinity to nutty toastiness to unctuous dried fruits. Most styles rely on a solera system of aging in which barrels of sherry are partially emptied and replenished, making each bottle a near-infinite blend of vintages. The flavor possibilities in a solera system are endless.

The other unique element of some styles of sherry is the layer of yeast known as flor (Spanish for ‘flower’), under which many of them are aged. This yeast grows spontaneously in the warm air of southern Spain, and allows the wine underneath to ferment and age without any oxidation. While the growth of flor was once considered a flaw by winemakers, it’s now celebrated for its ability to make dry, fresh wines, perfect for the heat of Jerez – and for the salty tapas always served alongside.

Sherry is not just one style but multiple, depending on where it’s made, how long it’s aged, and whether it develops under flor.

Old Fashioned


Known as Primitivo in Italy, what is this grape called in Napa Valley, California?

  • Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pinot Noir
  • Merlot

Zinfandel is a grape primarily grown in California. Primitivo is a grape primarily grown in Italy. But these grapes are actually the same. And even more, Primitivo and Zinfandel were never the original names for this grape. The grapes are originally from Croatia, where they’re called ‘Tribidrag’ and sometimes ‘Crljenak Kaštelanski.’

While we take this information for granted in 2015, we didn’t know Zinfandel and Primitivo were the same grape until the 1960s. Furthermore, we didn’t trace the roots of these grapes to Tribidrag until 2001. Here’s how Zinfandel and Primitivo got split apart and rediscovered as the same grape.

In the 18th century, a priest named Don Francesco Filippo Indellicati had a fondness for wine. He sourced some grapes from Croatia, including Tribidrag and planted them in Liponti, Italy. He noticed the Tribidrag grapes seemed to ripen before any other grape, so he started calling them Primitivo (translation: first one) and the name stuck. As the grapes were so easy to manage with the surrounding climate, Primitivo took off like wildfire throughout Apulia, Italy, becoming the most commonly planted grape in the region.

Meanwhile, the Tribidrag grape arrived in Boston in 1829, from Vienna, where it had been taken to by the Habsburg monarchy that ruled over Croatia at the time. In Boston, it was received by a horticulturist named George Gibbs, and it was used as a table grape and referred to as Zenfendal, a play on its Hungarian name tzinifándli. Gibbs moved to California to follow the gold rush in 1850, taking with him the Zinfandel vines. In 1857, they were planted and used for winemaking for the first time in North America at Oak Knoll vineyard in northern Napa. The wine was received so well that Zinfandel production boomed almost overnight. By the 1890s, it had gone from being used as a table grape to being the most commonly produced variety for wine in America.

Little did Italy or the United States know that Primitivo and Zinfandel were not unique and not their own grape.

Old Fashioned


Contributing only 1% of the world’s wine output, which country is known as ‘the Sauvignon Blanc capital of the World’?

  • New Zealand
  • Israel
  • Chile
  • Croatia

Fast forward a few years to the 1970s when a couple of New Zealand winemakers rescued Sauvignon Blanc cuttings from the University of California. At the time this vine was not considered to be of commercial interest, but the winemakers thought that the variety would be robust enough to do well in New Zealand conditions. The vines were vigorous, grew well and the grape was distinctly flavoured, aromatic and tasty. The first marketable quantity of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was produced in 1974, at Matua Valley’s first winery site in Swanson, Auckland.

It wasn’t until Montana (now Brancott Estate) planted Sauvignon Blanc vines in Marlborough that the variety began to gain notoriety. By the mid-1980s the characteristic Marlborough New Zealand style made a name for itself and has since gone on to become known as the most distinctively varietal Sauvignon Blanc style in the world.

The unmistakable qualities of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc include its zingy acidity and aromas of grapefruit, pineapple and lime zest, freshly mown grass and bell pepper that can be hard to resist, and even harder to forget.

Today, the style now accounts for over 85% of wine exported from New Zealand. The unique flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc continue to impress wine critics around the world, setting the international benchmark as one of the best.



Which is the largest Champagne House in Épernay (France)?

  • Moët & Chandon
  • Veuve Clicquot
  • Dom Pérignon
  • Krug

Moët & Chandon is the largest producer, with around 30 million bottles. If you add the other houses owned by LVMH (Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon, Ruinart Mercier, Krug), the figure is well over 50 million. Champagne produces 300-325 million bottles in a normal year.

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The Team at The Wednesday Wine Club