The names of drinks, spirits and wines like Cognac, Chianti and Calvados are familiar to many of us. But where do these hard-to-pronounce names originally come from?
Some of the stories behind these names are almost poetic. Merlot, for example, is said to have been derived from the French word "merle" which means blackbird, whereas "merlot" means" small blackbird." Maybe what the wine and the bird have in common is the black color of the feathers and the grapes.
The names "ambrusco" and "lambrusco" are derived from a Latin word denoting "wild wine." Tempranillo means "a bit early," possibly referring to the fact that tempranillo grapes are harvested some weeks before other Spanish red grapes can be harvested.
In some cases, it's easy to guess what the origin of a name could be. Corn, for example, should be clear enough. But it's a different story when it comes to the traditional drink whiskey. The word comes from the Scottish-Gaelic term "uisge beath" or the similar Irish term "uisce beatha." With a bit of imagination one can recognize the word "whiskey" into which these strange words developed over time. What the word means in English is "water of life."
In some cases, places and regions play a role in the name--giving process. We all know that champagne comes from the Champagne region of France. But what about the names of the drinks in our high five ranking?