Word of the week: The wines series


Sangiovese is a red wine grape that originates in Italy. Today, it is the most grown red wine grape in Tuscany, but the grape originated from Southern Italy in the regions of Calabria and Sicily. The word Sangiovese derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis or “the blood of Jupiter’” due to its dark purple color. 

The grape dates back to the time of Etruscan and Roman wine making, but the first documented use of the term Sangiovese dates back to 1590 by Giovanvettorio Soderini, an Italian agronomist. However, the term Sangioevese was probably given to the dark purple grapes by monks in the nearby region of Emilia-Romagna, north-east of Tuscany. 

Today, the Sangiovese grape is used to make many types of Chianti, which is any wine produced in the Chianti region of central Tuscany. It pairs well with tomatoes, such as tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces. So the next time you sit down with a big bowl of pasta, pour yourself a nice glass of Chianti and Enjoy! 


Champagne is a white sparkling wine made in the old province of Champagne, France. Champagne is primarily made from the grapes Pinot noir and Pinot meunier, and is one of the most popular sparkling wines in the US.  

The sparkling wine Champagne is named after the Champagne region of France. In fact, many European Union laws reserve the term “Champagne” only for wines that come from the Champagne region. The word Champagne derives from the Latin word campania meaning countryside. This term was given to the Champagne region by the Romans, around 400 A.D., who inhabited the regions and planted the first vineyards. 

In the US, Champagne bottles are usually theatrically popped during celebrations such as graduation or weddings. This sparkling wine pairs well with hard, salty cheeses such as the English Cheddar or the Dutch cheese Gouda. Cheers!


Sherry is defined as a Spanish fortified wine with a distinctive nutty flavor. It is made of white grapes such as the Palomino, which are grown in the Andalusia region of Spain. 

The word Sherry is an anglicized version of the word Xérès (Jerez), which is a city in Spain. Sherry is protected under Spanish law and all wine labeled “Sherry” must come from the “Sherry triangle” in the southwest of Spain.  

A great way to enjoy Sherry is to pair it with Spanish tapas such as patatas bravas or bread with tomato and jamón. Salud!


Syrah is defined as a grape whose skin has a dark blue to bluish-black color that was originally grown in the northern valley of the Rhone and is now widely grown throughout the world. The grape is known for its fruity and peppery aromatic profile and tannic mouthfeel. 

Although the Syrah grape originates from France the origin of the word is still disputed. Some believe that the word Syrah was given to the grape by the Romans after the Sicilian city Syracuse, while others state that the word Syrah is named after the Iranian city of Shiraz. 

Since Syrah is known for its bold flavor, consider pairing this wine with pungent foods such as blue cheese or fragrant herbs such as lavender, fennel, or thyme. In fact, next time you set up a charcuterie board with a nice bottle of Syrah, perhaps pair it with the French cheese Roquefort or the Italian cheese Gorgonzola. Santé!


Riesling is defined as a white wine that ranges from dry to very sweet and is made from a single variety of grape originally grown in Germany. Originating from Worms, Germany, the wine dates back to around the 1400s, but was referred to as Rüssling. The first known use of the term Riesling dates back to around 1552. The exact origin of the word is unknown, but the word may come from the German word “reis,” which in English means rise. 

Sweet Rieslings pair well with salty cheeses such as the Italian cheese Parmigiano Reggiano or the Greek cheese Feta. If sitting down for a larger meal, consider pairing Rieslings with Thai or Chinese cuisine. Prost!


Merlot is defined as a dry red wine made from a widely grown grape originally used in the Bordeaux region of France for blending. First grown in the Bordeaux region of France, the first cultivation of the grape dates back to the 1st century AD.  Today, Merlot is one of the most commonly planted grapes in the world.

Unlike most grapes that are named after the region where they are grown, the word Merlot is thought to come from the French word merle, or blackbird in English, due to the dark color of the grape or since blackbirds were known to enjoy these grapes as a tasty treat! 

When planning your next party, consider pairing the Merlot wine with the French cheese Camembert due to its creamy texture or Italian hard cheese Grana Padano due to its salty flavor. Santé!


Pinot noir is defined as a dry red wine produced from the same grape as French burgundy. First grown in the Burgundy region of France, the first cultivation of the grape dates back to the 1st century AD by the Gallic tribe Aedui. Although originating in France, today, Pinot Noir is one of the most commonly planted grapes in the world.

Unlike most grapes that are named after the region where they are grown, the word Pinot Noir comes from the French word pin and noir or pine and black in English. The word pin refers to the tightly-clustered, pinecone-shaped bunches of the grapes as it grows and word noir refers to the deep, dark color of the grape. 

When planning your next party, consider pairing the Pinot Noir wine with sheep cheeses such as the salty Spanish cheese Zamarano or the French cheese Abbaye de Belloc. Santé!


Franciacorta is a sparkling wine from the Italian Province of Brescia in Lombardy. This type of sparkling wine is relatively new. In 1961, a winemaker named Franco Ziliani developed this sparkling wine and it quickly became a sensation throughout the region, receiving DOC status in 1967.

The word Franciacorta comes from the region where the wine is grown, Franciacorta. This region derives its name from the Latin words franchae curtes or in English “exempted from paying taxes.”

When planning your next dinner party, consider pairing Franciacorta with dried fruits such as apricots or cherries or roasted salted nuts. Saluti!


Sauvignon blanc is defined as a dry white wine made from the grape originally grown in Bordeaux and the Loire valley of France. Today, Sauvignon blanc is a common grape grown in the wine region of California. The vine was first brought by Charles Wetmore in the early 19th century, and the popularity of the grape quickly spread and the grape is now grown throughout California.

Unlike most grapes that are named after the region where they are grown, the word Sauvignon blanc comes from the French word sauvage, vigne, and blanc, or wild, vine, and white in English. 

When planning your next dinner party, consider pairing the Sauvignon blanc wine with the American cheese Goat Gouda and freshly cut apples. Cheers!


Falanghina is a white grape that dates back to the 7th century B.C. The grape was incredibly popular among the Romans; however, this grape became less popular overtime and was considered as dull and unflavored. Only recently, the wine has become more popular due to modernization of vineyards and wine making techniques. 

The word Falanghina derives from the Latin word falangae or “the stake used to support grapevines” in English. The grape is cultivated along the coasts of Naples and along southern Italy. Due to the region where the grape is grown, the wine pairs well with seafood dishes or tomato-based dishes. Next time you hold a dinner party, surprise your guests with this less popular wine served along seared scallops or shrimp. Saluti! 


Let me know in the comments if there are additional wines or grapes you would like to the history or word origin of! If interested in copy editing or proofreading services, email hello@editingbychristina.com or visit visit editingbychristina.com.

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