‘Variety’ vs. ‘Varietal’

woman-holding-wine-glass-selective-focus-photography-1850595The language of wine is both fascinating and fraught with danger, especially if you’re a writer or editor who prefers to get things right at least 50 percent of the time.

For instance, there are two words that I tend to use interchangeably, but should not. Those two words: variety and varietal.

I don’t claim to understand any of the grammatical aspects of these words, but over time I have come to understand the difference — even if I don’t always use them correctly in my writing.

So here is the difference between the two…

In the world of wine, “variety” refers to a grape. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Pinot Grigio are examples of grape varieties.

“Varietal,” by contrast, refers to the wine that is made from the given grape. So if you’re drinking what is referred to as a “varietal wine,” that wine will have been made entirely, or almost entirely, from a single grape variety.

We say “almost entirely” because regulations do allow for a certain percentage of another variety or varieties to be included in a varietal wine. But that’s another topic for another blog.

Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to stop using “variety” and “varietal” interchangeably.

But I’ll never stop believing that variety is the spice of life — especially when it comes to wine.




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Posted in Wine in the Glass
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