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Dear Dr. Vinny,
In Argentina, my understanding is that the word “bodega” means “wine cellar.” What differentiates it from a vineyard called a “domaine”?
—Kathleen, Tempe, Ariz.
You’re right that a “bodega”—when not referring to a small urban grocery store or wine shop—can also mean a cellar or another place to store wine. Think “building,” or a room inside of a building. “Domaine,” on the other hand, refers more vaguely to a property, estate, territory, vineyard or even empire (though hopefully not the evil kind).
Keep in mind that the wine police (or more specifically, government licensing and labeling authorities) don’t regulate terms like “bodega,” “domaine,” “château,” “cellars” and “estate” when they’re used in a winery name. I can call my wine “Bodegas Vinny,” “Domaine Vinny,” “Château Vinny,” “Vinny Cellars” or “Vinny’s Estate,” and I don’t have to own a cellar, a castle or a piece of land.
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