kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


Wine tongue twisters

Here is the link to the segment I did live this morning on DC's Fox 5. We talkd about some wines that can be a bit tricky to pronounce.

Here is add'l info about the wines, and tips for navigating wine tongue twisters:

Let’s face it: if you can’t pronounce a wine, you may not be confident enough to ask for it in a store or order it in a restaurant. But you’ll miss out on some really delicious sips. Here are a few bottles that may have tripped you up in the past (and maybe one or two that you’ll find completely unfamiliar.) Have no fear, wine writer and educator Kelly Magyarics (http:/// tells you how to pronounce common grape stumpers, and offers information on these winning wines’ flavor profiles and food matches:

* Gewürztraminer (Guh-VERTS-tra-MEE-ner): In German, this word means “spicy grape from Tramin,” a reference to the town in northeastern Italy’s Alto Adige region where the grape was first grown. Spicy, with floral and lychee notes, this wine can be made in styles ranging from bone dry, off-dry, semi sweet and lusciously sweet. Often very concentrated and full-bodied, the best examples have the capacity to age and develop over time. FYI—this wine is often called “Gewürz” for short, making it much easier to pronounce.

Food pairings: Gewürz is highly aromatic, and off-dry or semi-sweet bottles often pair well with spicy, aromatic Thai and Indian curries and other dishes. Drier styles are great with ham and other pork dishes.

2008 Abbazia di Novacella Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige, Italy, $25

Lagrein (La GRINE): Indigenous to the Alto Adige region, wines made from Lagrein have color and flavor intensity similar to that of a Syrah. Lagrein tends to have some berry-fruit flavors, along with savory notes like mushroom, and a tart cherry finish. This varietal is popping up more and more on U.S. wine lists, and is a great alternative for other powerful red wines.

Food pairings: Serve Lagrein alongside heartier fare like beef and lamb dishes, wild game, well-seasoned dishes and those with heavier sauces.

2007 Abbazia di Novacella Lagrein, Alto Adige, Italy, $25

Viognier (Vee-ohn-YAY): Originating in France, this grape produces exotic wines that evoke comparisons to perfum—in a glass. With gorgeous heady aromas of orange blossom, honey, violet and tropical fruits like mango, Viognier is perfect when you want something a bit off the beaten path. Don’t let the French accent scare you—once you learn how to say Viognier it rolls off the tongue (and makes you want to go back for another sip!)

Food pairings: Try Viognier with aromatic and well-seasoned ethnic dishes, as well as with dishes made with crab or lobster. It’s also immensely quaffable with a fruit, nut and cheese platter.

2007 Horton Viognier, Orange County Virginia, $13

Moschofilero (Moss koh FEE leh roh): Greece offers fantastic wines made with local grapes—many of which can be had for incredible bargains. But trying to say names like Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro and Assyrtiko can make your head spin. Moschofilero is a crisp white wine with rose and violet aromas. It can sometimes smell and taste “grapey” and perfume-y like Muscat-based bottles.

Food pairings: Try Moschofilero as an apéritif, or take a cue from the Greeks and serve with grilled sardines, octopus, squid or scallops drizzled with lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs.

2007 Hermes Moschofilero, Mantinia, Greece, $12

Torrontés (Tor-rahn-TEZ): Though Argentina is famous for its Malbecs, don’t ignore their white wines. Torrontés may be just a little bit tougher to pronounce at first glance, but once you say it once or twice you’ll find yourself asking where to find it on store shelves. It’s dry, aromatic and full-bodied like a Viognier, yet fresh and easy drinking like a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Food pairings: Match its freshness with some fresh seafood, or use the crisp acidity to foil the richness of a creamy or buttery dish (like crab imperial or a cream-based pasta dish.)

2008 Phebus Torrontés, Mendoza, Argentina, $9

Tips for Navigating Wine Tongue Twisters:

1. Search the web for help: Go to Google, and type in the wine or grape name, plus the word “pronounce.” You’ll see links to phonetic spellings and even audio clips of native speakers speaking the name. There is also a great wine pronunciation glossary on

2. Make an attempt: Even so-called wine “experts” make mistakes and butcher wine names and terms. Don’t be afraid to give it a shot.

3. Repeat, repeat, repeat: Once you learn how to say a wine name, use it. Ask for the wine in your local shop, and seek it out on restaurant wine lists.

4. Ask your friendly sommelier: The days of wine snobs working in restaurants have blessedly come and gone. For the most part, today’s sommeliers are personable and very eager to share their knowledge.

5. When all else fails, shrug it off, grab your glass, toast your friends and if you can’t say it, sip it instead. After all, wine needn’t be so esoteric. It’s meant for enjoyment and pleasure, after all, not stress.