What’s in a name?

We British are generally poor linguists and have been spoilt by the fact that many other nations speak English well, sometimes better than many of us.

The French and Germans are now resigned or in despair at the omnipresence of English, and Spanish and Mandarin speakers multiply and may well have the last laugh. Meanwhile brands with names that the British can pronounce easily are more successful than the tricky ones. The totally invented ice-cream brand Häagen-Dazs and their like are exceptions which prove the rule. And how do you pronounce Douwe Egberts?!

   Kalecik Karasi, 2009 (Vinkara)

I think it partly explains why two pronounceable wine names like Prosecco and Pinot Grigio totally dominate UK Italian wine imports (though not at The Wine Society which is of course full of well-educated drinkers). But we must admit that we have a few among us who have not got the hang of the fact that ch in Italy is not like ch in Chablis but hard like Chianti and that c followed by i or e is soft like ch as in Cepparello (Chepparello).

Wine buyers who find lovely wines with impossible names have a dilemma. I am finding great buys like this not just in Italy but in Hungary, Romania and Turkey. Luckily I’ve never found a wine I wanted to import from Colli Euganei (a name I can never say properly) and though I resisted a Turkish wine made from a blend of the bullseye öküzgözü and throat-strangler Bogazkere grape varieties (which was actually very good), I did buy the snappier sounding Kalecik Karasi (which was even better) ref N-TU11, £8.50.

Hungarian wines are on pages 54 and 108 of the List, wines from Romania and Turkey can be found online at thewinesociety.com/europe and will appear in a new section in the next List.

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