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On Wine: V wines


I’ve always loved and encouraged wine tastings, for learning and for friendship. Using common themes like comparing Chardonnays of the same vintage from different wineries, perfectly fits the bill for learning and for fun.

I’ve also often encouraged creative, unusual themes for tastings, and I’ve got a new one my wife and I just tried. Wines made from grapes that start with the letter V. I don’t know … I’ve always liked that letter. It’s pointy and decisive.

Going through Jancis Robinson’s “The Oxford Companion to Wine,” I found 31 grapes that begin with a V. Going through our own inventory at home, I found four: Verdicchio, Vermentino, Viognier and Vinho Verde. OK, so Vinho Verde is a region in Portugal, not a grape, but it’s got two Vs, so it made the tasting.

Interestingly, 16 of those 31 grapes call Italy their native homeland. Next closest source for V grapes with three each, were Portugal and France. A further fascinating tidbit, 23 of the 31 are white. This seems more than coincidence, though I’ve found no explanation.

Three of the four we had on hand (excluding the Viognier) are not wines we drink regularly, though that definitely changed since our tasting. Those three share some great characteristics. All are crisp, acidic, lively wines that work really nicely on a hot summer day. Very refreshing.

Aveleda Vinho Verde ($11.99, from Vinho Verde, Portugal) is a rosé, proving there are indeed a few red V grapes. It’s an outstanding value and unusually complex for a rosé. It had nearly none of the soft fizziness characteristic of Vinho Verdes. The grapes most often found in Vinho Verde are Alvarinho, Arinto and Loureiro, though there are others.

The Verdicchio was made by Andrea Felici ($16.99, Marche, Italy) and packed an exceptional zing, with white grapefruit and guava flavors. The Vermentino, despite being an Italian grape, was made in California’s Central Coast by Bonny Doon Vineyard ($14.99), with caramelized lemon leading the palate. And the Viognier, a grape with origins in France’s Rhone Valley, is also from California, made by Vino Robles Vineyard & Winery in Paso Robles ($15.99), very floral with stone fruits dominant on the palate. It’s relatively full-bodied, while the other three wines were, not surprisingly, much lighter.

There’s really no logic to comparing wines or grapes according to how they’re spelled, but it made for a terrific tasting!

Ernest Valtri of Buckingham is a sculptor, painter, graphic designer, and a former member of the PLCB’s Wine Advisory Council. Please contact Erno at