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Dear Dr. Vinny,
I work at a tasting room and one of the wines we serve is Mourvèdre. We all seem to say the name a bit differently from each other and then argue over whose pronunciation is correct. Can you please tell me how to pronounce this word? I hear wine professionals pronounce it differently as well.
—Sarah C., West Hills, Calif.
You’re right, Mourvèdre is a funky grape name to pronounce. It’s French, and if a French person says it slowly, it would sound like mohr-VED-dra, or more-VEH-drha.
But as any high school French student can tell you, French people don’t always talk very slowly, and the last syllable can sound more like a growl or breath than part of a word. So imitating the French pronunciation can turn Mourvèdre into a two-syllable word, pronounced closer to more-VED.
Both mohr-VED-dra and more-VED are generally acceptable, the latter feeling a bit more like a nickname, like when folks refer to Zinfandel as "Zin." If you’re reading this and pronouncing my phonetic explanations out loud, you might get a kick out of my guides to pronouncing Pinot Meunier, Sémillon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir.
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