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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. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.
Dear Dr. Vinny,
What exactly is meant by the term "cuvée"?
—Frank, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
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.
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