Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
Why is Chablis called Chablis?
—Tripti S., India
This might seem like a trick question, but it’s actually a very good one. Chablis is a region in France, and wines from there are named Chablis. If you’ve never had real Chablis, do yourself a favor and try one. They’re some of the best Chardonnays I’ve ever tasted, typically with a flinty, steely edge.
But there are other wines called Chablis that have nothing to do with the region in France, or even with the Chardonnay grape. For many years, the United States didn’t restrict the use of words that refer to well-known European wine regions. So, terms like Sherry, Champagne, Burgundy, Chianti, Port and Chablis were attached to wines that may have been nothing like their true namesakes. In those days, “Chablis” was just a generic way to say “white wine” to some consumers.
U.S. wine law has changed, so no new wines may use these geographical terms incorrectly. But wine brands that already used these terms are “grandfathered in” and allowed to continue, as long as the term appears next to the wine’s actual appellation or place of origin.
Do you have a question for Dr. Vinny? Ask it here...
Learn to taste wine like a pro, pull a cork with flair, get great wine service in a restaurant and more
Learn from the experts and get the most out of each sip. Take one of our online courses or take them all—from the ABCs of Tasting to in-depth seminars on Food Pairing, California Cabernet, Bordeaux, Tuscany, Sensory Evaluation and more.
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions