What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

As Shakespeare’s young Juliet once claimed, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” yet can we ever truly shake off longstanding reputations made through the power of language?

When it comes to wine, the importance of language use has always interested me – partly because in another life I taught English for twelve years, but also because it’s pure linguistic joy. Not only does your sensory language get a workout whilst describing the sensation on your palate, but then there’s the job of conveying this experience to another – and, of course, it’s all very subjective isn’t it – not to mention dealing with the wine classification systems and words associated with different countries and regions. So, it’s fair to say, that there’s a reason all English teachers turn to wine! Anyhow, I digress…

Making a judgement based on a name is commonplace in the world of wine, let’s take an obvious example like Champagne; one mere mention of the word Champagne and an ice bucketload of connotations pour out regarding its quality, provenance, and price! We expect prestige, heritage, and a certain level of complexity in the glass. As Champagne has what we call an AOC (Apellation d’Origine Controlée), which is essentially a set of regulations you must abide by to produce it, both the name and wine style is protected and cannot be used for ‘any old sparkling.’

Same goes for any of the Burgundy Houses in France or in fact any appellation across the globe. So, why does that matter as surely that’s a positive? Well, it is to an extent, particularly in terms of managing expectations of what lies within the bottle. However, it really is a double-edged sword and there’s one label that made me want to write this piece especially: Provence.

The flipside of reputations attached to certain labels is that it becomes a sticking point for some folk. We have many rosés that we almost need to fight the cause for in an animated fashion just to go against the fact it isn’t from Provence. Don’t get me wrong I love a nice glass of Provence and we have some delicious bottles on our shelves, but there really are many wines standing in the shadows of its name. We enjoy showcasing amazing rosés from the Bekaa Valley or Veneto – some are quite similar style, but we give customers the choice of playing safe in the realms of Provence or giving it ‘a twist’. You never know you might just find a new addition to the wine rack or fridge for the summer from an unexpected source.

If you fancy trying out a range of rosés, join our mailing list via our website. We’re planning a rosé tutored tasting for July.