Consumers Struggle to Pronounce Esoteric Varietal


Blaufränkisch is rife with potential to make inroads in a wine market suffering from palate fatigue by the endless supply of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. However, it faces a formidable obstacle. Its name is one that consumers struggle to, or even refuse to pronounce.

“The umlaut over the letter ‘a’ throws everything into a tailspin, “ explains Winemaker Keith Rolle, who produces Blaufränkisch at Gianni Buonomo Vintners in San Diego. “The first syllable Blau is easy. Everyone can get that. The last syllable isch is also easy to pronounce. It’s the middle syllable fränk, the one with the umlaut, that causes people to panic and jump ship.”

In a recent study, a group of California wine consumers were asked to rate their comfortability in pronouncing Frank Sinatra and Fränk Sinatra. The entire group was certain that they correctly pronounced Frank Sinatra; while only 11 percent of the group felt they were pronouncing Fränk Sinatra correctly. In fact,  just 47% were even willing to give “Fränk” a try. A whopping 42 percent of the group was unwilling to attempt to pronounce Fränk Sinatra in front of their peers. Incidentally, both are pronounced the exact same way.

As Southern California’s only producer of Blaufränkisch, Rolle has learned that it’s no small task to champion a wine that people don’t want to pronounce. “Wine enthusiasts seem to embrace the challenge of pronouncing  the names of romance language wines.  Tempranillo is exotic. Montepulciano is romantic. Champagne is glamorous. Blaufränkisch just doesn’t sound sexy enough,” Rolle says.

So why not call it something else? There are, in fact,  other names for this noble grape which originated in what is now Austria. There are inferences to the varietal dating back to the Middle Ages, but unfortunately, they are even less sexy than Blaufränkisch. In Croatia and Serbia, it’s known as Frankovka.  In Hungary it’s Kékfrankos. In Washington state, where it’s known as Lemberger, powerful imagery of a stinky cheese comes to mind. In New York the wineries are mixed with some calling it Blaufränkisch and others calling it Lemberger.  In San Diego, Rolle decided to stick with Blaufränkisch.

“The wine offers a flavor profile that is distinctly its own, Rolle explains. “Medium-bodied with low tannins, this very dark, thin skinned grape produces an earthy, fruit-forward wine with spicy, peppery notes. It is the perfect companion to Coq au Vin, Pollo in Porchetta and Chicken Paprikash.

Blaufränkisch may never enjoy the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay, but this underappreciated grape is finally getting its time in the spotlight. It’s taking center stage at the inaugural Blaufränkisch Appreciation Day Party and Dinner at Gianni Buonomo Vintners in San Diego. And frankly (or should we say fränkly) everyone will be singing its praises.

On Saturday, August 10, Winemaker Rolle will be releasing his 2015 Blaufränkisch and Chef Max Farina will create a three-course dinner featuring Pollo in Porchetta.

Tickets are $55.00 and available at https://blauparty.bpt.me.

Saturday, August 10
6:30 pm to 9:00 pm

Gianni Buonomo Vintners
4836 Newport Ave.
San Diego  CA 92107