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World’s Most-Mispronounced Wine Names – And More!

I thought this one was a real hoot! Because, here in Canada, we have no trouble pronouncing French wine names. But, apparently, some folks in the US have problems not only with French, but German ones, as well. And possibly others? Herewith, a carefully curated list with pronouncers…

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Canadians are cosmopolitan

Canadians have an advantage – of sorts – over Americans in that we have two official languages: English and French. And many wine names are French. Either because they’re from French places or are named for the French grape variety from which they’re made.

Why is it an issue?

Basically, because lots of folks who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths, or are just new to ‘wine culture’, don’t want to come off as newbies or pretenders when they discuss wine with vino-veterans. And I don’t blame them.

When I was younger – so much younger than today – I taught wine appreciation for beginners in my region’s Night School program. Great fun! Great people signed up, too, from all walks of life. And the one thing that united them – apart from their curiosity about wine – was the desire to sound knowledgeable about it. As one memorable student put it, “I want to to sound legit!”

Used to be harder

That was before the Internet. Before smart phones. Even before personal computers. But there were still books you could get, or find in the library research section, that listed the names of many wines. And offered ‘pronouncers’ designed to help first-language English speakers get their tongues around all those foreign words.

Researchers at language learning platform Preply discovered the issue is still very much an issue. And extends to German, Italian and Spanish wines as well…

For the record

So, as a public service, I hereby offer Preply’s Top 20 most-mispronounced wine names – based on those most searched for recently on Google. And, of course, their proper pronunciations…

  • Pinot Noir: PEE-noh nwar
  • Sauvignon Blanc: soh-VIN-yohn blan
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: kah-bare-NAY soh-VIN-yohn
  • Pinot Grigio: PEE-no-GREE-jo
  • Champagne: sham-PAN-yuh
  • Bordeaux: bor-DOH
  • Chianti KEE-ahn-tee
  • Riesling: rees-ling
  • Merlot: mer-LOH
  • Prosecco: proh-SEHK-koh
  • Rioja: REE-oh-hah
  • Burgundy: BUR-guhn-dee
  • Sangiovese: SAN-sho-VEH-see
  • Tempranillo: tem-pruh-NEE-yo
  • Gewurztraminer: ga-VERTS-trah-mee-ner
  • Vermouth: vur-MOOTH
  • Chardonnay: CHAR-duh-nay
  • Shiraz: shee-RAAZ
  • Syrah: see-RAH
  • Sancerre: son-SAIR

…And a few more common ones you might be wondering about:

  • Aligoté: ah-lee-GOH-tay
  • Amaroné: ah-mah-ROH-nay
  • Asti: AH-stee
  • Barolo: bah-ROH-loh
  • Beaujolais: BOH-sho-lay
  • Carmenere: car-mah-nee-AIR-eh
  • Chablis: sha-BLEE
  • Frascati: fra-SCA-tee
  • Fumé blanc: FOO-may blan
  • Garnacha: gra-NASH-ah
  • Labrusca: luh-BRU-ska
  • Madeira: mah-DAY-rah
  • Marsala: mar-SAH-lah
  • Moscato: mo-SKA-toh
  • Mosel: moh-SELL
  • Sauternes: soh-TURN
  • Sylvaner: syl-VAH-ner
  • Tokaji: toh-KAY
  • Trebbiano: tray-bee-AH-noh
  • Valpolicella: val-poh-lee-CHELL-ah
  • Vidal: vee-DOLL
  • Vinho Verde: vee-NOH VAIR-day
  • Viognier: vo-ON-yay
  • Zinfandel: SIN-fun-dell

Glad to help…

Put the list above on your phone for easy – discreet – access wherever you happen to be, when you need a wine-name pronouncer.
We’re all in this together!
~ Maggie J.