I heard there's no way to tell if a wine labeled "Chardonnay" is really 100 percent Chardonnay. Is that true?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

A friend told me that some wines labeled "Chardonnay" actually contain a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Moreover, he says that there is no way for a consumer to determine whether a wine is 100 percent Chardonnay or not! Is that true?

—Atsuko, Chicago

Dear Atsuko,

Yes, it's true, and it's not just for Chardonnay. Laws vary around the world, but if an American wine is called by a varietal name—in this case, Chardonnay—you can be assured it has at least 75 percent Chardonnay. The rest of the blend can be comprised of other grapes (Sauvignon Blanc is one example). Some winemakers blend in other grapes to make a stronger, more complex wine, or to add an element they feel is missing—say, color or an aromatic component. Others like to focus on single-vineyard bottlings, and a vineyard may have more than one grape variety planted. You'll find that many producers are pretty up-front about what types of grapes go into their wine, and if it's not on the back label, the information might be on their website.

—Dr. Vinny

Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

What’s the difference between Hermitage and Ermitage? Are they the same wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains what the H is going on with Hermitage vs. …

Sep 19, 2022

When traveling, are any wines more or less susceptible to bottle shock than others?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the phenomenon of "bottle shock" and how to …

Sep 12, 2022

What’s the best way to remove a crumbly wine cork? I’ve tried everything!

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for extracting crumbly corks, and how to …

Sep 7, 2022

What’s the difference between Petite Sirah and Syrah?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains that Syrah and Petite Sirah have quite a bit in …

Aug 29, 2022

I have about 50 bottles of wine. Should I buy a wine fridge?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for when to upgrade your wine storage at …

Aug 22, 2022

My air-conditioning broke and the house has been 85° F for three days! Are my wines at risk for heat damage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the temperature danger zone for wine storage and …

Aug 16, 2022