What is a “cuvée”?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

What is a “cuvée”?

—Linda, Lake Lure, N.C.

Dear Linda,

The French term “cuvée,” pronounced "koo-vay," means “vat” or “tank,” and suggests a special selection of a wine.

When it comes to Champagne and other sparkling wines, cuvée can refer to the first pressing of juice. But most commonly, the term simple refers to a specific blend or selection of wine and the bottling made from it. For example, single-vineyard wines are often referred to as cuvées. The term is not regulated, and is frequently used to evoke special quality. But there is nothing necessarily special about a "cuvée,” and the term can be applied to the most ordinary of wines.

—Dr. Vinny

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