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#TWINNING: Wine Twins & What You Should Know

So you’re beginning your wine journey and starting to learn about different grapes. You’re a bit overwhelmed because you never realized there are so many! You also begin to discover that some terminology can almost be interchangeable — twinning words, if you will. Don’t let a wine jerk mess with you if you don’t know. Let’s learn more about these “wine twins”!

For the purpose of this article, “twinning” is to indicate you might find yourself looking at a bottle with one name you aren’t familiar with, but it can actually mean the same as another name you are familiar with. While stylistic qualities will differ based on where they’re made, they are virtual Doppelgangers of one another. If you see one of these, there’s another name out there for them. Do you know what they are?

Grenache
See also: Garnacha

These are on the list of some of the more widely planted grapes in the world. Tolerant of high heat and windy conditions, you’re bound to find a plethora of different varieties which feature Grenache (Garnacha, the Spanish term). In France you’re likely to see it blended with Syrah (as with the popular Châteauneuf-du-Pape), and in Spain you’re likely to see it with Tempranillo. But you’ll find Grenache (Garnacha) in other countries such as the United States, Italy and even Australia.

Monastrell
See also: Mourvèdre

With origins native to Spain, Monastrell is a thick-skinned grape which makes distinctively rustic medium-bodied to full-bodied wine. It’s high alcohol and generates low yields, but makes some very cool wine! In Spain its importance is next to that of the Garnacha grape. Once upon a time Mourvèdre (the French term for Monastrell) was essentially obliterated in France in the age of the phylloxera epidemic, but eventually made a comeback all its own. For the longest time you would find Mourvèdre in France almost solely in Bandol (Provence). You’ll find wines made from this grape in other countries as well, including the United States and Australia. You may actually be familiar with seeing this name in something called a “GSM” blend, an acronym for Grenache / Shiraz (or Syrah) / Mourvèdre. Mataro is also another name you might see used for Monastrell/Mourvèdre. 

Syrah
See also: Shiraz

Generally, Syrah is the term used in France and Shiraz is the term used in Australia. Its origins are in France, but it is the most planted grape in Australia. You’ll also find it planted in other countries like the United States, South Africa, Spain, Chile, and Italy. Over the years some producers have also gone as far as naming their wine Syrah or Shiraz based on the style in which the wine is made. For example, a more Old World style of wine might use the Syrah terminology, whereas the Shiraz terminology would be used for a more New World style of wine.

Pinot Grigio
See also: Pinot Gris

This is a zesty and bright wine, usually best to drink young — like your bottle of Vinho Verde. It’s a light-bodied to medium-bodied wine that’s actually a grape mutation of Pinot Noir. While you’ll primarily see selections coming from both France and Italy, you’ll find wines made from this grape widely planted in other countries as well, including the United States, Germany, France, Hungary, Austria, and Australia. Similar to the naming convention used by some producers to distinguish stylistic differences from a bottle of Syrah vs. a bottle of Shiraz, the same can be done with the name of a wine of Pinot Grigio vs. of Pinot Gris.

Taste one side-by-side with their wine twins! It’s a fun activity. What are the differences? What are the similarities? Share your discoveries with us on social media @ShallWeWine and tag it with the hashtag #ShallWeWinePutMeOn!

Eileen Zara

Wine geek who wants to help you be less confuzzled about the beverage she has all the affinity for. While I find it fun to wrestle with deductive tasting grids and soil types, you may think that’s a snore. Want to talk wine in the context of food, music, art, bad Netflix reruns… the moon? (Hey, who knows?) That’s my jam. I feel the more we can relate the subject to other things in our life which may seem less perplexing, the easier it is to have a wine a-ha moment! Cheers.

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