I can butcher the English language pretty well. Last week I insisted to a group of friends that puerile came from the Latin word puer (poo-ehr) for young boy and was, therefore, pronounced poo-EHR-uhl. I was right about its origin…but wrong about its pronunciation. It’s PURE-ile.
I may be stating the obvious here, but you can’t always tell how a word is pronounced by the way it’s spelled. And that goes double for wine words. As if the wine world isn’t sufficiently esoteric! It’s bad enough when you’re faced with a wine list of completely unfamiliar names. But how about popular names that you’ve read a million times? This is my list of the most mispronounced wine words.
Meritage. MEHR-ih-tihj. Not mehr-ee-TAHZH. I understand the confusion because I was once one of the confused. Knowing the origin of the term is a help. First of all, it’s not French. It’s an American invention. A group of winemakers coined the phrase in 1988 from the words “merit” and “heritage” to identify their wines made from traditional Bordeaux grapes. I found this out when Mitch Cosentino, one of those winemakers, told us the story on our radio show.
Riedel. Rhymes with NEEDLE. I like to drink out of it. And, apparently, so do millions of others. It’s just that some of those fans have 60s teen idol Bobby Rydell stuck in their heads.
Willamette. (No “i” as in William.) Rhymes with DAMNIT. Etymologists say the name originated with the Indians who lived in that part of Oregon. No one really knows the meaning of the word, but these days the valley is synonymous with Pinot Noir.
Freixenet. Fresh-ehn-EHT. My high school Spanish was not enough to guide me here. An “x” can be pronounced four different ways. I take my cue from the folks who actually make this cava.
Moët & Chandon. Mo-EHT ay shahn-DAWN. It’s the “t” that seems to cause the problem here. I’ve read countless online discussions from self-described French experts about whether it’s mo-EHT or mo-AY. Such vitriol over one little letter. I’d rather be sipping the Champagne than fighting about it.
By Saucy Sis 1