by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | October 01, 2006

Craig PinheyTaking a wine-loving client out to dinner, but don’t know anything about the stuff? Learn some basic grape facts and a few catchwords, and you’ll at least be able to fake it, says Craig Pinhey (, a New Brunswick, Canada-based wine consultant.

Read up first. Just one or two inexpensive wine books will tell you where common wines come from and what the basic flavors are.

Name that grape. There are seven basic varietals: chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Riesling, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir and Syrah. Test yourself with a few blind tastings until you can tell them apart.

Master the trivia. Syrah is another name for Shiraz; Riesling is a German wine; a white burgundy is made from chardonnay grapes, and red burgundy comes from pinot noir grapes. And only wine made in Champagne, France, can be called champagne.

Memorize these words.Zingy, lustrous, silken and voluminous are some key buzzwords to throw out in conversation. They have little meaning but are sure to impress. Others such as gamey, meaty, pungent and fat are actually used by wine experts.