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Wine Review: Translating a key skill in wine world

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As one gets deeper into the subject of wine, it becomes necessary to learn words and expressions in different languages to properly understand the labels and wines of foreign nations.

When writing about wine, I have been blessed by being able to speak the languages of several important wine-making countries: Germany, Spain, Italy and northern California (English). My French is rudimentary and is just enough to allow me to make a fool of myself.

I feel it is important for me to translate the names of the foreign wines I write about and at times even give a pronunciation hint to make it easier for the reader to understand and, more importantly, to use. With the volume of foreign wines currently on dealers’ shelves, my language skills have proven very useful in the ability to translate some of the lip-twisting foreign names for my English-speaking readers.

Jaddico Brindisi DOC Rosso Riserva ($50)
Brindisi (Brin de she) translates from Italian as “toast.” It also is used as the name for the very famous first song in the first act of the opera La Traviata, which translates as “the fallen woman” and was written by Giuseppe Verdi, whose name translates as “Joe Green.” In this case of the wine, it is one that has been made from uncommon Italian grapes that deserve your attention: 80% negroamaro and 20% susumaniello. These grapes produce an interesting, dark maroon wine with an aroma of cherry followed by chocolate and plum with not-too-subtle suggestions of black pepper, clove and leather. All of this continues on to a fruity finish that includes a modest amount of oak and vanilla. This is the perfect wine to accompany heavily flavored barbeque foods, especially those with red tomato sauce, and also any strongly flavored cheese. I believe that this wine should be tried just to experience a wine made from little-known grape varieties.

Sentiero del Vento of Duca di Salaparuta ($16)
Another romantic name for an Italian wine, this translates as “path of the wind” to pay homage to the Mediterranean breezes that blow across the island of Sicily. Those breezes make it possible to grow wine grapes on that normally hot island. In the case of this wine, it is the very Sicilian vermentino grape which offers the aroma and flavor of citrus, green apple and fresh-picked flowers balanced and enhanced by the signature Sicilian mineral background. If you are a white wine fan, the Sentiero del Vento can be a new addition to your collection of favorites.

Wine columnist Bennet Bodenstein can be reached at


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