Home > Grapes, Norton, wine quiz > Weekly Wine Quiz #93: Grape Trivia – Norton

Weekly Wine Quiz #93: Grape Trivia – Norton


Norton Grapes growing in Missouri. Source: Wikipedia

Norton Grapes growing in Missouri. Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Norton, a uniquely North American grape.

When you ask people what is the America’s signature red grape, most probable answer you will get is Zinfandel. However, we need to remember that Zinfandel was actually brought here from Croatia and it still has its ancestors happily growing there – it doesn’t make it any less an American Signature Grape – but – there is actually a grape which is called The Real American Grape®, and this grape is Norton.

What makes Norton so special? The origins of the grape are somewhat unclear, most often associated with the work of Dr. Daniel Norton, who spent lots of time and efforts to create the grape which would survive in Virginia. You see, despite the similarities in the climate conditions between Virgina and Bordeaux, most of the European grape cuttings coming from France would simply die in Virginia soil. Norton, which was born some time around 1820, became the first cross of European and native American grapes which not only survived, but also produced very palatable wines. Actually, the wines were that good, that in 1873 at the worldwide competition in Vienna, the Norton wine from Missouri was declared the “Best Red Wine of All Nations“. I guess another mystery associated with Norton is the fact that even with such a high designation, it didn’t spread violently all over the United States. The fact that the Norton vines are very particular to the types of soil they grow in, plus mass destruction of the Norton vineyards during Prohibition (they were replaced with plantings of Concord), were some of the key factors standing in the way of Norton’s success. Today, Norton is successfully growing in many of the Mid-Atlantic states in US, but it is still mostly known locally, particularly due to the draconian wine shipping laws in US.

Norton has deep-blue colored skin, and it is known for the very high anthocyanin content, which in turn is associated with the number of health benefits, such as “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic”properties, according to the Wikipedia. Norton wines are generally full-bodied, with an interesting earthy profile, good structure and showing off a red fruit notes. Norton wines can age quite well, and they actually require a few years in the cellar to be enjoyed fully.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Which of the following are synonyms of Norton?

a. Cynthiana

b. St. Croix

c. St. Vincent

d. Virginia Seedling

Q2: The winery in which state holds the trademark The Real American Grape®:

a. Arkansas

b. Missouri

c. Pennsylvania

d. Virginia

Q3: Norton is an official State Grape of:

a. Arkansas

b. Mississippi

c. Missouri

d. Virginia

Q4: Norton grape generally classified as:

a. Vitis Aestivalis

b. Vitis Cinerea

c. Vitis Labrusca

d. Vitis Vinifera

Q5: As you know, Riedel is the best known wine glass maker, which creates wine glasses designated for different varietals. True or False: Riedel makes a special varietal glass designated to Norton

Bonus: have you ever had Norton wine? What do you think?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

  1. Oenophilogical
    March 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Rather than answering all the fact questions – which I’ll leave to all those smart folks out there – I’ll answer the bonus question. Yes, I have had a Norton. I had it for the first time just last year. Best of all, it was a Horton Norton! There is a winery in Virginia, Horton, that makes a tasty Norton. It’s even on the shelves at my local Safeway!

    • talkavino
      March 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I heard that Horton makes good Norton wines, never tasted them. Thanks for the comment!

  2. March 1, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    1. Cynthiana 2. Virginia (?) 3. Missouri 4. Vitis Aestivalis I lived in Virginia and have had tasted Norton wines. I liked them!

    • talkavino
      March 1, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Great answers, Suzanne! Did you miss #5 on purpose? 🙂

      • March 1, 2014 at 6:52 pm

        No not on purpose didn’t see it

      • March 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm

        5. is true

        • talkavino
          March 1, 2014 at 7:06 pm

          excellent! My answers are coming on Wednesday, as usual.

  3. March 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Excellent article, this is a new grape for me. Thank you.

    • talkavino
      March 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Glad you liked it! Norton wines are definitely worth looking for, I think you will like them.

  4. March 1, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    A few years ago we traveled across the country and spent a very pleasant afternoon in St. Charles where we were able to taste both Norton and Catawba wines; we took home a couple of bottles. Always up for a new grape experience!

    • talkavino
      March 2, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Great, thanks for sharing!

  5. March 2, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Virginia claims Norton as a native son, and Virginia wineries are ALL ABOUT Norton. Whenever I see a bottle of Norton at a wine tasting, I hear Jerry Seinfeld’s voice in my head: Hello, Norton! It’s just such an aggressive, smoky wine for me. I have tried and tried, but I still haven’t found one I like. I keep looking, though.

    1. A
    2. D – Chrysalis Winery
    3. C
    4. A
    5. True


    • talkavino
      March 2, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Great work, Kirsten! Did you actually try Chrysalis Norton? I had it and I liked it. Also, you need some age on it – if you can find a bottle of 2005 – 2007, there is a good chance you will like it.

      • March 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

        Chrysalis is one of the few I haven’t tried. Several other folks have suggested it as well. I figure I need to head out to the winery again soon. Agree, age on Norton (and Cab Franc – another VA favorite) is important . . . Salud!

  6. March 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    1) a
    2) b or d – if you are giving partial credit
    3) c
    4) c
    5) true
    Bonus: I had to check my Wine Century Application – Answer No. Although I have a bottle in my cellar.

    • talkavino
      March 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      Very good work, thanks for playing! The answers are coming on Wednesday.

  7. March 4, 2014 at 10:57 am

    1. A
    2. D
    3. C
    4. A
    5. True

    Bonus: Nope. I don’t even remember seeing any wines from Norton grapes in German wine stores.

    • talkavino
      March 4, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Great work, Julian! My answers are coming on Wednesday.
      It is not surprising that you don’t have Norton wines in your stores – they are hard to find anywhere outside of the states where they are actually produced…

  1. March 5, 2014 at 4:06 pm
  2. June 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

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