Wine Words: Cuvée

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Cuvée is a wine word. You see it on wine labels, especially Champagne labels. Do you know what it means? Cuvée is a French word that translates as from the 'cuve' or from the 'vat' - i.e. the container that the wine is made in. Essentially it refers to the 'mix' of wines or the 'blend' of wines from a particular lot that will be bottled.

By mix or blend, it could mean a blend of different grape varieties. It could also mean a blend of different vineyards, different parcels within a vineyard, or even a blend of different vintages.

As indicated upfront, you see the word cuvée used a lot for Champagne. You see expressions such as "Tête de Cuvée", Prestige Cuvée or Cuvée Speciale on Champagne labels. For example one of the Krug Champagnes is Krug Grande Cuvée.

The word cuvée is also used for still wines, especially French wines. Many a Domaine or Château might explain that he/she bottles six different red wine cuvées and four white wine cuvées.

While cuvée is a French word and originally used by French wine producers, today you see the word cuvée on wines made all over the world.

Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne

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