Define the Wine: What is Viognier?


[Doniree Walker]


And we begin with a lesson in pronunciation: Vee-AH-nyay. There, now that that's out of the way. What is Viognier? It is a white wine grape, low in acidity, and floral in aroma. For this reason, it's sometimes used to soften wines made predominately with Syrah, as it stabilizes it and also adds a floral touch.


The origin of the grape itself as well as its name is obscure at best, generally unknown. There are legends about its history including the idea that the Roman emperor Probus brought the wine to Rome in 281 AD, as well as the possibility that the grape showed up on a boat, packaged with a bunch of Syrah, and en route to Beaujolais when it was captured by a local group of outlaws. In terms of its name, it could potentially have originated from the French city of Vienne, though other legends attribute it to the Roman pronunciation of the via Gehennae (meaning: "Valley of Hell"). Apparently a difficult grape to grow, this name would be appropriate.


Grape-ography: Where Can I Find Some?


California and Australia both boast significant plantings of the Viognier grape, though it is popping up around the Monticello AVA of Virginia as well. Its growth has increased in France dramatically since the 1980's, despite a 20-year period of near endangerment because of climate conditions and the abandonment of vineyards post-WWI. Other place to find the grape include Central Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Greece, and even Japan.


Plays Well With Others: How to Pair


If you've spent any time on Pinterest, you've likely seen pins and boards and links and likes for all things Garden Party (no? just me?). Viognier is the wine you want at your garden party. It's honeysuckle, citrus blossoms, gardenias, peaches, and orchards for days. And, since it's so highly aromatic and fruit-forward, it plays quite nicely with spicy Asian cuisines like Thai and Japanese favorites.

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