Variety or Varietal?

As co-author of the Wine Grape Varietal Table, I’m often asked this rather pedantic but very good question. Pinot Noir is a grape variety, as is Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, etc. A wine that is made from a single grape variety and named after it is called a varietal wine (most wine regions require at least 85% of a single grape variety to be called a varietal but this can vary with local regulations). Then why didn’t you call it a Wine Grape Variety Table? In this case the confusing reality is that varietal is the adjective that modifies the noun table. va•ri•e•tal adj. Of, indicating, or characterizing a variety, especially a biological variety. n. A wine made principally from one variety of grape and carrying the name of that grape. (source: The American Heritage Dictionary) Just as the Periodic Table of Elements isn’t the Period Table of Elements. Why then not the Varietal Table of Wine Grapes? Ok, Ok . . .

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