Free shipping in Italy

What is cuvée: bubbles, wine, and … even chocolate?

Cuvée what does it mean main

If the mysterious French word “cuvée” makes your mind choose between a type of sofa and a dog breed, don’t worry – many of those who use it won’t tell you exactly what the word means. Here is a quick guide that will help you impress wine connoisseurs at a party or assistants in a classy wine shop.

Origins of the term cuvée

The term “cuvée” (pronounced ku: ve) originated in France during the first winemaking period (10th - 12th centuries) and means a barrel or a vat. Today it has several different meanings depending on the context, region, and the type of label you find it on.

What is cuvée in still wine context

Generally, when found on a still wine label, cuvée refers to a particular blend of a wine, usually of more than one grape variety. Most wines are stored in a vat or tank at some stage of production. Still, those that end up with the mark “cuvée” on the bottle are usually the producer’s darlings that were specifically selected and are somehow different and maybe of higher quality in comparison to the same producer’s ordinary wines. French winemakers sometimes are so proud of their production that they put “cuvée speciale” (special cuvée) or tête de cuvée (head of cuvée) on the bottles, which speaks of a higher quality.

Outside of France, cuvée often just means that the wine was produced from a mixture of grape varieties rather than a single kind of grapes.

In Italy, “cuvée” is frequently associated with “millesimato” and indicates that a wine was made from a combination of different grape varieties or is even a blend of wines from different grapes or vintages. The two terms are often interchangeable, though “cuvée” is a wider one, while “millesimato” refers only to the wine that was made from grapes harvested in the same year.

What is cuvée in sparkling wine context

Even more often than in the case of still wines, the word “cuvée” prettifies sparkling wine bottles, especially those produced with the traditional method. In this case, it refers to the first and the best juice to flow from the press. This is the sweetest and clearest juice because it comes from the grapes that burst with just a gentle pressing, which is why wines made of cuvée are purer than non-cuvée ones. In the Champagne region, cuvée (or tête de cuvée or head of the cuvée) is the first 2050 liters of juice from 4,000 kg of grapes. The second press, or the next 500 liters of juice, is called the taille (tail). Many winemakers in Champagne use only cuvée and sell the taille. 

In Italy, “cuvée” in the case of a sparkling wine, similarly as in the case of a still wine, usually means that it was produced through an assemblage of base wines, which, after the first fermentation, were blended before proceeding to the second fermentation in the bottle.

What is cuvée in non-wine context

Oddly enough, the word cuvée sometimes can be found on beverages or food labels that have nothing to do with wine - for example, beer and chocolate. Mainly, this is just an attempt by the vendor to add some chic and upper-class gauze to the item. It can mean that the initial products or ingredients were blended to produce a certain type of taste, but not necessarily. 

What is cuvée for Anticelebration

Anticelebration prefers to use the term cuvée for the first and the best juice to flow from the press of grapes. All Anticelebration cuvées have been aged for at least 36 months on the lees, were made from indigenous or native (autoctono in Italian) grapes or are coming from a unique vineyard, and are sold in not more than 1000 bottles.

Phrases to impress wine connoisseurs or shop assistants:

Here are some phrases with the word “cuvée” to keep in mind that would immediately make you part of the crowd at any wine connoisseur party or impress a consultant at a wine shop: 

My tasting note for this cuvée begins with ‘wow’ 

I can feel that this cuvée comes from old vines

This cuvée seduces me with its roundness and softness

This bottle must be from a special cuvée cellar

This powerful cuvée is overflowing with elegance and freshness

Next post