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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How do you pronounce “Pinot Noir”? And what should I know about it?

—Olga M., Managua, Nicaragua

Dear Olga,

Pronounced “pee-no nwär," Pinot Noir is a red wine grape, and the term is also used to refer to wines made from that grape. It's the primary red grape grown in France's Burgundy region, so when people talk about red Burgundy, they're talking about Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is also one of the grapes permitted in France's Champagne region. Outside of France, the grape also makes terrific red wines from California, Oregon, New Zealand and Australia, among other places around the world.

Pinot Noirs can vary in style, but when they are good, they strike the balance between grace and power, with primary fruit flavors of cherry, raspberry and strawberry and silky or supple textures. They can be very complex as well, with subtle nuances that range from white truffles to forest floor. The best also have tremendous length and ageability. For more on this important grape, check out the "Venus of the Vine," in the May 31 issue of Wine Spectator.

—Dr. Vinny

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