Five Wine Words To Know For Your Next Trip to Wine Country

AVA: An American Viticultural Area (AVA) is an official, U.S. government-designated wine grape-growing area that has distinctive soil, climate, and geographic features from neighboring areas. Napa Valley is the name of the biggest and oldest AVA within Napa County. It was the first AVA to be established in the state of California, and the second in the country. Napa Valley has 16 sub-AVAs that nest within it.


Sabrage: The art of opening a bottle of sparkling wine with a saber! Legend has it that Napoleon's cavalrymen developed the technique so they could break into the Champagne at a full gallop (holding the reins in the same hand as the bottle). Let Verve teach you how… minus the galloping horse.

Sparkling Wine: The proper name to use for all bubbly wines that aren't from the Champagne region of France. All Champagnes are sparkling wines, but not all sparkling wines are Champagnes!

Terroir: (pronounced tair-WAHr) A word we borrowed from French that refers to the site-specific environmental conditions (especially soil and climate) of the particular place the grapes are grown. Terroir is thought to provide a distinctive character to the grapes—certain flavors, aromas, textures, etc.—that's consistent year over year.

Varietal: A varietal is a type of grape (e.g., Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir), and a varietal wine is wine made primarily from a single specified grape variety. Varietal wines typically have the name of the key varietal listed on the front of the wine label. If there's more than one varietal named on the label, it's not a varietal wine—it's a blend.