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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What exactly is meant by the term "cuvée"?

—Frank, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

Dear Frank,

To start with the etymology, the term "cuvée" is derived from the French word cuve, which means a vat or tank.

As it's used in the wine world, "cuvée" has a couple of different meanings. Most often, it describes a blend, usually of more than one grape variety. There's an air of quality implied with the term—some vintners use it to designate a special reserve—but "cuvée" has no officially regulated meaning and can be applied to the most ordinary of wines.

When it comes to Champagne and sparkling wine, "cuvée" refers specifically to the first-pressed (and best) juice.

—Dr. Vinny

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