The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies is: Variety vs. Varietal
Beware! It's these two little V-words that can make many a old-timer wine blogger act like an English professor and start throwing erasers at the class. Wine newbies have thrown temper-tamtrums and claimed being picked on. Tiny high-heeled feet have stamped in protest and walked away in a hissy-fit in many of online wine groups over the proper and improper usage of these two words.
Variety is a noun. Varietal is an adjective. Got it?
The word variety refers to the grape variety that is grown, plucked from the vine and used to make the wine such as: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes. Think of apples like: Delicious, Pippin, Winesap, and McIntosh.
The word varietal refers to the actual wine in the bottle or glass, such as a Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon ... well you get the picture. Or do you? The adjective, varietal describes a wine that is made from a single or dominant grape variety - - and for a wine to be varietally labeled it must be a minimum of 75% made from the stated grape variety.
Still confused? No worries. Just relax and enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (varietal) produced from the vines of Cabernet Sauvignon (variety).