Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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hock, traditional generic English term for (white) Rhenish wines, from the rhine regions of germany, sometimes for the wines of Germany in general. It is a contraction of hockamore, an English rendering of the adjective Hochheimer, denoting wines from the important wine centre of Hochheim on the river Main just west of Frankfurt (see rheingau).

The earliest firm reference in English occurs in Thomas D’Urfey’s play Madam Fickle; or, The Witty False One in 1676: ‘Here’s a glass of excellent old Hock.’ The Oxford English Dictionary gives a first reference in 1625 in John Fletcher’s play The Chances, but this depends on a corrupt reading of hock for hollock, a light red wine. However, it is likely that the term was already current in England by the 17th century, for its use is closely linked to the growth in popularity of Rhenish and Main wines, which began to supplant the wines of alsace in export markets after 1500 (see german history).