“Variety” and “Varietal” are two words that are used interchangeable frequently. Years ago, I read if you are referring to a grape, you say “variety” and “varietal” is used when you are referring to the wine.
As of today, I continue to read and hear the words misspoken. Therefore, I am updating my research and found the following:
Mary Gorman-McAdams, Master of Wine, a New York wine educator, freelance writer and consultant states:
“…variety is a noun and varietal is an adjective. The word variety refers to the grape variety used to make the wine such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and so forth. The word varietal is an adjective, and refers to the wine. It describes a wine that is made from a single or dominant grape variety. Such wines are called varietal wines…”
Wine Spectator addressed the same question from a reader and advised of the following:
“A lot of folks confuse these terms—most wine lovers don’t know that one word refers to grapes, the other to wine. Varieties are types of grapes, i.e. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, Chardonnay grapes, Zinfandel grapes, etc. A varietal is a wine that is labeled as being made from one grape variety. Typically you’ll see varietals from New World countries, while Old World wines are more frequently labeled by their region of origin. So wines labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Zinfandel are varietals.”
We have consensus! Folks, do not allow others who misuse the words to cause you confusion. In my opinion, it isn’t that serious and does not require correction when an individual utilizes the terms incorrectly. However, it is important to understand the correct meaning of the words. But not important enough that you lose sight of the wine’s true essence, (negative or positive) and sharing the experience.
In conclusion, varietals refers to the wines and variety is the grape… wait, did I say that right? 😉