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Wine 101: Tongue twisting wine names

So you have studied wine, you know which one goes with what, but now comes the moment many people dread, pronouncing the name of the wine. With sweat drips running down your face you order a glass of Sarah, while it should have been See-rah (Syrah). Don’t beat yourself up, it normally takes a while to get used to the wine names and it can be confusing. You will probably look back and laugh about it someday.

Don’t let the pressure get to you. Lack of linguistic skills shouldn’t keep you from enjoying wine. Restaurants are not as snobbish as you think, so if you are having problems with the name, just ask your waiter or bartender, at the end of the day they are there to advise you on the wine list.

But you have to start somewhere, right? So we have put together a list of the most mispronounced wine names. Print out this list and keep it handy for your next dinner. So you can impress your friends with your pronunciation skills. 

  • Semillon
    Mispronunciation: Semi-lon. Correct pronunciation: Seh-Mee-Yhon
  • Viognier
    Mispronunciation: Vog-ner. Correct pronunciation: Vee-oh-nee-aye
  • Syrah
    Mispronunciation: Sarah. Correct pronunciation: See-rah
  • Pinot Noir
    Mispronunciation Pea-not Noi-er. Correct pronunciation: pee-noh nwahr
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
    Mispronunciation: Cabinet Soo-Vig-Non. Correct pronunciation: Cab-Er-Nay Saw-Vee-Nyon
  • Zinfandel
    Mispronunciation: Zinf-un-dul. Correct pronunciation: Zin-fan-del
  • Grenache
    Mispronunciation: Grench. Correct pronunciation: Gree-nash
  • Riesling
    Mispronunciation: Rise-ling. Correct pronunciation: Reece-Ling
  • Shiraz
    Mispronunciation: Sher-raze. Correct pronunciation: Sheer-raz
  • Sauvignon Blanc
    Mispronunciation: So-vig-non blank. Correct pronunciation: Saw vee nyon blohnk


Mispronunciation of wine names is just the tip of the tangles that consumers get into when it comes to ordering wine at a restaurant. There is still some confusion surrounding the etiquette of wine. Some customers sent back a bottle of red wine because it was too warm, while others ask the waiter if they can have a slice of lemon in their glass. But that’s a whole different article.