How do wines get their names?
While I wish I could pull a Penn & Teller and reveal the magic behind the trick of wine nomenclature, there really isn’t any. No matter what label you’re looking at, its primary name is (or was) either a person, a place or a thing.
People make wine and sometimes they become pretty good at it, so it makes sense that winemakers, or winery owners, would want to ensure their fans knew which wines were theirs. Nothing does that better than slapping their names at the top of their wine’s front panel.
Though there are famous winemaking families just about everywhere that grapes grow, European wines have always relied heavily on family surnames, especially in places like France’s Burgundy region where vineyards can have multiple owners, and recognizing who makes both the delicious (and the dodgy) can save you from a glass full of mediocrity.
Often the winery itself is the star. Again, many European winemakers have taken advantage of their centuries of history by naming their wines after their posh and pricey real estate. Just look to France’s Bordeaux region, where everything’s château this and château that. However, Europe doesn’t own the patent on pushing their property. It doesn’t matter if it’s Australia, California or Canada; if a wine’s name has vineyard or winery in it, it’s named after a vineyard or winery.
When it comes to things, most are either invented in a boardroom by marketing types or conceived after a few pints at the local pub. I enter into evidence the Fat Bastard and Ménage à Trois brands. When you can’t lean on who you are, or your geography, you just make something up which often works like a charm, especially with the coveted wine-loving millennials.