One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In early use: a type of French red wine. Later: specifically a dark red wine similar to port, produced mainly in South Africa; (also) the distinctive red-fleshed variety of grape from which this wine is made.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas Blount (1618–1679), antiquary and lexicographer. Apparently from French Pontac (although this is not attested in dictionaries of French until later), further etymology uncertain: perhaps from de Pontac, the name of an influential French wine-making family.
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