February 18, 2011

What the hell is Cassis?

I won't mention where, but I once sat down in a tasting room ready to taste a beautiful Napa Cabernet. After forming my own impressions I glanced over the tasting notes that were provided (apparently for my amusement). I joke you not, it read "Blackcurrent, Cassis". They were literally side by side (and yes, I mean literally).

Speaking French, I know that cassis is what the French call black currents. I was astounded that the marketing team would be so stupid as to provide two terms, identical in meaning, one after the other. I dismissed it as an oversight, and moved on with my life...

Until I ran across this factoid: until 1966 it was illegal to grow black currents in the US, and not until 2003 was the ban lifted in states like Nw York and Oregon, all due to a disease associated with the plant.
Thanks to De Long Wine Moment for their post on the tasting term. They go on to discuss that Americans tend to use the term "Cassis", because the US's exposure to the flavor of black current was primarily from Crème de Cassis. The British, on the other hand, use the term "Black Current" being familiar with widely available black current juice.

Perhaps the afore mentioned Napa winery was trying to appeal to a broader set of tourists. My suggestions? Try this "Black Current/Cassis"


  1. This is so interesting - I have wondered about this for a while. --And here I was thinking it was the other way around - that a French wine would have notes of cassis, and an American / Aussie wine would have "black currant." This is fascinating! (I think my brain just gained a few cells. Literally.)

  2. "Black Current"? With an "e"? Seems rather surprising that someone who would notice the juxtaposition with "cassis" wouldn't realize it's not spelled with an "e" but with an "a" (black currant".