Difficult-to-pronounce wine names a handicap?

Discussion in 'UK Wine Forum' started by Alex Rychlewski, Jul 10, 2018.

  1. https://www.meininger.de/en/wine-business-international/wine-command

    The article raises an interesting question, but treats it rather superficially.

    I can see that people would be more comfortable talking to a computer with voice recognition software to avoid embarrassment, but the question that was not dealt with is the machine’s own pronunciation programming! French people cringe when English speakers say “grand crew” and “Pet-roos”. How would machines be taught to cope?

    In my experience, a difficult-to-pronounce name is definitely a handicap.
    The example of Coteaux de Tricastin is excellent in this regard. After a widely-publicized incident (radioactive leak) at the nuclear power plant in Tricastin, local winegrowers intelligently decided de change the name of their appellation. But can you imagine anything more unwieldy, difficult to pronounce, and eminently forgettable than Grignan-Les-Adhémar?
    Marketing score = zero.

    As for German wines, I must confess to being put off by names with 80 letters that I cannot hope to pronounce, and can perfectly understand people who feel similarly intimidated by French. Perhaps I am culturally inadequate or intellectually challenged…

    I can remember when the height of sophistication in the US was to be able to order – and thus more-or-less-correctly pronounce – “Pouilly Fuissé” in a restaurant when Jackie Kennedy declared it was her favorite wine.

    The pronunciation issue is a not unimportant factor in the rise of New World wines in the UK. How can you blame someone for grabbing a bottle of “Yalumba Merlot” far more easily than “Château Grand Barrail Lamarzelle Figeac, appellation contrôlée Saint-Emilion grand cru”?

    Best regards,
    Alex R.
  2. I certainly still suffer from the German problem. I can remember the producers that I like, but beyond that, all the vineyard names (apart from a few) are slightly in one ear, out the other!
  3. I never found the Grignan name a problem, because I made damned sure I wasn’t going to buy any!

    I don’t generally have issues, never with French wines, but as I get to taste more wines from Moravia, Hungary, Slovenia etc are can sympathise with those who do. And typing the names of these wines and producers requires a whole new knowledge of accent codes.

    It’s going to be awful if Turkish wine ever truly takes off. Tried pronouncing some of those?

    Alex, you need to meet by German teacher...Anne Bowger-Biter.
  4. Er, let me see... how about the variety name Mskhvilkumfkhala?
    And that is transliterated from the Georgian script to make it more accessible.

    Like most things, pronunciation is "just" a question of motivation and practice. Most of us have already hacked it with well-known French wine names - it is not that they are intrinsically easier than most other "difficult" ones.
    David Crossley likes this.
  5. Steve,

    Thanks for the link. It looks fascinating and I will read it in detail later on.

    But a cursory look seems to show that the study focuses on tasting rather than on the motivation to purchase.

    All the best,
    Alex R.
  6. It does indeed. But that hints at how people could be persuaded to buy.

    More importantly, it brings home that point that the mystique of wine is important to consumers, and that giving all wine "market-friendly" names like "polo", "daz" or "magnum" is probably not the way to go.
    David Crossley likes this.
  7. And when visiting regional Glasgow vineyards, god forbid anyone gets 'Appellation contrôlée Milngavie' wrong.
  8. So, how should I pronounce "Pet-roos"? I have never heard anyone pronounce it differently:(.
  9. Maybe it's "Pet'roos" ? ;-)
  10. I have yet to find anyone,other than a few in South Africa, pronounce Vergelegen correctly. Living next door to the cellar door helps :)
    Not sure it is a handicap to sales overseas although it probably does not help
  11. On Sunday, at a nice restaurant in Harrogate, I ordered, without any difficulty, a wine called

    Kavaklidere Yakut Boğazkere/Öküzgözü.

    Fortunately I was able to use its alternative title, "House Red".
  12. It's very difficult to pronounce pretty much much ANY foreign word correctly (whatever that means) in the middle of an English sentence, and it would sound very strange if it was achieved. Being understood by the people we are talking to is the important thing. Try asking for Vergelegen, complete with guttural noises, in your average wine shop and you would get very strange looks.

    But I think Alex is more concerned with names that look so strange that people are reluctant even to attempt a pronunciation.
  13. I’ve heard many say Eeeeeben Sadie rather than Ebbben. But I must confess I was pronouncing Lodi as “loadee” until Abe Schoener put me right last week (load-eye).

    Funny the prononciation you imagine as a child and then get corrected (as Peter Jackson’s LOTR/Hobbit films did for me).
  14. I had a memorable vacation in Milan/Parma/Modena a couple of years ago.

    Visiting an artisanal producer of balsamic vinegar was on my bucket list, and I was able to cross that one off.
    What a surprise to learn that the correct way - in Italian - to prononce it is Mod'-en-a and not Mow-deen-a, or Mow-den-a.

    So many other names like that... If you go to a train station and ask for a ticket to Ah-j'en" or "Ah-jean", you will be met with a blank stare.
    (it's more or less Ah-zhahn, like "agent de police").

    But returnig to the subject of wine names, the ones in languages you don't speak unfortunately tend to stick less in your memory considerably less.
    That is why it is essential to take notes, otherwise you will probably never remember...
    Paul's example of "Kavaklidere Yakut Boğazkere/Öküzgözü" is an excellent illustration of this.

    Alex R.
    Mark Collings likes this.
  15. Italian words that deviate from the default emphasis on the penultimate syllable usually have an accent on the appropriate vowel, eg ragú.

    But pray tell, what is the correct pronunciation of Petrus?
  16. Pett Rus

    Or maybe Pet Trus

    Sort of
  17. Phil,

    As for the second syllable, English speakers have difficulty in making a distinction between the "u" and "ou" sounds (like grand cru pronounced grand crew mentioned above).
    However, this distinction is very clear in French. Example: there is no possible confusion between la rue (the street) and la roue (the wheel), whereas when pronounced by an anglophone, they are much the same.

    To make things even more complicated :
    a) Pétrus is not Château Pétrus
    b) in terms of pronunciation, one could be confounded by the fact that in defiance of the French rules of typography, many capital letters are not accented. The acute accent in Pétrus is therefore (erroneously) omitted on the label. And the U looks like a V!

  18. I've often found Burgundies from Pernand-Vergelesses and Ladoix-Serrigny cost less than other villages in restaurants.
  19. The growers of Auxey-Duresses seem to think that all their wine is largely sold in France because only the French can pronounce it - I think there are other reasons for that :) And it doesn't seem to have harmed Pernand-Vergelesses does it?
  20. Thanks Alex. The difference between la rue and la roue was taught to me in my first year of learning french, aged 10 or so! But the u sound in rue is very difficult for anglophone speakers, just as 'th' is for French speakers.
  21. I've often wondered why Scots(wo)men don't really have a problem with this at all....are there two distinct "u" sounds in Gaelic, like French?
  22. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    Certainly, whether it is nature or nurture, Scottish people have no problem with loch ending with the gutteral voiceless velar fricative, and I think that sort of dramatic difference between native Scottish speakers of English extends to plenty of other sounds (rolled Rs for example) that native English speakers of English find difficult and which often make certain foreign words - or rather pronunciations - easier for Scots.
  23. Tom Cannavan

    Tom Cannavan Administrator

    I can do that :) It always surprises people in retaurants, as does the correct pronunciation of Rust en Vrede and various others...
  24. I will test you out when I see you next:)

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