Hargrave column: A ‘final exam’ from our in-house wine expert

wine column louisa hargrave

(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file photo)

Harvest will begin soon, and all of our vintners are planning for that yearly point of no return. Here is a quiz so you can test yourselves on your own familiarity with matters vinous. I’ve thrown in a few questions from my past years’ quizzes to give you a chance to redeem yourselves. Feel free to go to Google if you get flummoxed. 

1. The genetic parents of cabernet sauvignon are:

a. merlot and syrah

b. cabernet franc and
sauvignon blanc

c. ugni blanc and tresallier

d. lagrein and cabernet franc

2. This variety is called the “heartbreak grape” because it rots easily and its short polyphenol chains may create unstable color with bitter flavors:

a. cabernet sauvignon

b. pinot noir

c. nebbiolo

d. pinotage

3. ‘Organic’ wines are made from fruit that has been treated with:

a. no pesticide of any kind.

b. pesticides made only from organic substances, including sulfur and copper.

c. pesticides made only from manure “tea” swirled counterclockwise for an hour.

d. zero tillage.

4. “Biodynamic” farming was designed by this person, who never farmed:

a. Florence Nightingale

b. Rodolf Steiner

c. J.J. Rodale

d. Albert Einstein

5. ‘Varietal’ wines are defined by the variety of grape they are made from. In the US, what percentage of the named grape must be in a bottle of varietal wine?

a. 51 percent

b. The required amount is not legally defined

c. 75 percent

d. 100 percent

6. To be converted to 12 percent alcohol, the amount of sugar present in grapes at harvest will be about:

a. 12 percent

b. 21 percent

c. Sugar is irrelevant to the quantity of alcohol

d. 6 percent

7. The amount of alcohol stated on a wine label must be:

a. 100 percent accurate, as tested in an ebulliometer.

b. Accurate within 3 percent

c. Accurate within plus or minus 1.5 percent if less than 14 percent; within 1 percent if in excess of 14 percent

d. 95 percent accurate, as tested by reverse osmosis.

8. Winemakers refer to the sugar content of grapes as its:

a. sucralose

b. brix

c. mortar

d. metric

9. Rosé wine is often made from the fraction decanted from crushed fruit called:

a. coloratura

b. saignée

c. nature mort

d. chiaroscuro

10. Technically, the term ‘dry’ when related to wine refers to its:

a. astringency

b. sugar content

c. tannin content

d. pH

11. ‘Lees’ are:

a. The rows of the vineyard away from the wind.

b. Sediment in wine formed by dead yeast cells.

c. The crystals sometimes seen on the bottom of a wine cork.

d. Compacted clay soils.

12. ‘Free run’ refers to:

a. a special bottling of wine made to be sent to wine critics.

b. wine that spills out of barrels when the moon is full.

c. wine decanted from a press before pressing begins.

d. slang for conversations among winemakers who meet to critique each others’ wines.

13. ‘Critter’ labels are a popular trend. This brand with an animal reference is made on Long Island:

a. Goats Do Roam

b. Wild Boar Doe

c. Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush

d. Frog’s Leap

14. Acetic acid (vinegar) is created when wine is exposed to oxygen. It was named after:

a. acetaminophen, which can also damage your liver.

b. Acetes, who rescued Bacchus when he was captured by fishermen.

c. acidophilus, the same bacteria that make yogurt.

d. cetophil, which has the same hydrolytic potential.

15. Among the latest trends in wine consumption is a preference to drink Champagne out of:

a. slippers

b. tulip glasses

c. flutes

d. coupes modeled on the breast of Napoleon’s wife, Josephine

16. The most desirable wood for wine barrels comes from oak trees grown in France. These oak forests were originally planted:

a. by Romans who intended to trellis vines on them.

b. by Louis XIV’s finance minister, whose intention was to ensure a supply of wood to build ships for defense against the British navy.

c. by the Benedictine monks who dominated Burgundy during the Crusades.

d. by peasants who needed building materials after destroying villages during the French Revolution.

17. A rough translation of this line  — ‘goutons voire si le vin est bon’ — from the Burgundian drinking song “Chevaliers de la Table Ronde” (Knights of the Round Table) is:

a. A little dab will do you.

b. Let’s taste to see if this wine is good.

c. Wine lets a blind man see.

d. Good wine tastes like candy.

This will be my final column, after 15 years of bi-weekly contributions. Thank you for following my adventures in the wine trade. I have had great fun sharing them with you.

Answers: B is correct for all questions except 5, 7 and 12, which are C.

Louisa Hargrave