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Drinking wine is easy – it’s the names part that can get you a little tongue twisted. Read on to find out exactly how to pronounce (and understand) your wine …

Blanc de Blanc: Pronounced “blunk duh blunk”, this is the name for a sparkling wine or champagne made entirely from chardonnay grapes.

Blanc de Noir: “Blunk duh nwah” refers to a sparkling wine or champagne made entirely from red grapes.

Brut: Pronounced “brute”, this refers to a dry champagne or sparkling wine. Which really just means it’s not very sweet.

Cabernet Franc: “Cab-err-nay frank” is a red grape common to the Bordeaux region in France. Its characteristics include a herbal, leafy flavour and a soft, fleshy texture.

Cabernet Sauvignon: “Cab-err-nay suv-in-your” is a powerful, tannic red grape of noble heritage. The base grape for many red bordeaux and most of the best red wines from California, Washington, Chile and South Africa, it’s capable of aging for decades.

Chardonnay: ‘Shard-on-nay” is arguably the best and most widely planted white wine grape in the world. Usually wooded, it exudes notes of butter and vanilla, along with Granny Smith apples, and has a bright acidity when not wooded.

Chenin Blanc: “Shen-in blunk” is a white grape with flavours including fruit, honey and sometimes grasses. Other characteristics of wines made from chenin blanc grapes include an oily texture, high acidity and a deep gold colour.

Grenache: “Gra-nash” is a heady red grape popular in southern France as well as in Spain (where it goes by the very Spanish sounding name garnacha).

MCC: This stands for Methode Cap Classique. It is South Africa’s version of champagne, made in the identical way, however, only sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France can be called “champagne”.

Merlot: Pronounced “mer-low”, this famed red grape gained its popularity in Bordeaux and is now grown and enjoyed throughout the world.

Pinot Noir: “Pea-no-nwah” is the prime red grape hailing from Burgundy and Champagne.

Pinotage: “Pin-oh-taj” is a hybrid between pinot noir and cinsault which is grown almost exclusively in South Africa.

Riesling: “Ree-sling”, along with chardonnay, is one of the top white grapes in the world; most popular in Germany, Alsace and Austria.

Rosé: “Rose-ay” is used to describe a category of refreshing wines which are pink in colour made from any red grape, from pinotage to pinot noir. As varied in style, taste and colour as their red wine cousins, rosé wines can also be made still, semi-sparkling or sparkling.

Sauvignon Blanc: “Suv-in-your-blunk”, a white grape planted throughout the world, is a firm favourite on South Africa’s tables and in its cellars. Usually unwooded, this fresh wine is often enjoyed young and exudes a vibrant acidity. Its hallmark flavours include lemon and freshly cut grass.

Shiraz: The Australian and South African name for syrah; also used sparingly in the US. It’s a spicy, full and tannic wine which ages well.

Syrah: “Sirr-ah” is a red grape planted extensively in the Rhone Valley of France, South Africa and Australia. Over here, we call it “shiraz”. A spicy, full and tannic wine which ages well.

Semillon: Pronounced “semi-awn”, this plump, white grape which gained its popularity in Bordeaux is used extensively in white blends in SA. We have some knock-out 100% semillons too. On its own, and at its best, it offers notes of bee’s wax and limes and has a velvety finish.

Viognier: “Vee-oh-nay” is a fragrant, powerful white grape first grown in the Rhone Valley of France but gaining popularity here.

 Wade Bales is the Founder of Wade Bales Wine Co. 

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