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KnowledgeBase --> Wine Articles --> Wine Grapes
Wine Grapes

Wine Grapes

  • White
  • Red

    The Whites

    Albariño: White wine from Spain. Make light bodied crisp refreshing wines.

    Aligoté: White wine grape grown in Burgundy making medium-bodied, crisp, dry wines with spicy character.

    Chardonnay: This grape is considered very versatile. Its flavors can range from citrus in cooler climates to tropical in warmer. Various aging techniques will direct additional flavors as well. Aging in Oak barrels will produce a sweeter buttery flavor. Aging in steel barrels will impart a more mineral flavor in the wine. Chardonnay grows particularly well in Burgundy, France where it used in making the regions namesake wine Burgundy. In the US it does very well in coastal areas of California.

    Chenin Blanc: Also known as Pineau de la Loire. This is a white wine grape of the Loire valley in France. High in acidity it is used to make anything from sparkling wines to desert wines. The most widely planted variety in South Africa where it is known as Steen.

    Colombard: Used by some northern Californian producers to make into a fruity white wine in both dry and sweet versions. Grown mainly in California to provide backbone, due to its natural acidic character, for white "jug wine" blends.

    Cortese: White wine grape grown in northern Italy in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions. Best known for the wine, Gavi. The grape produces a light-bodied, crisp, well-balanced wine.

    Fumé Blanc: see Sauvignon Blanc

    Gewürztraminer: An aromatic wine grape variety that performs best in cooler climates. The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are white and usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees. Dry Gewürztraminers may also have aromas of roses, passion fruit and floral notes.

    Marsanne: A full-bodied, moderately intense white wine grape. Flavors of spice, pear and citrus and nutty notes. Popular in the Rhône, Victoria in Australia, and California.

    Moscato: see Muscat

    Muscat: A versatile grape used to make raisins, table grapes, and wines. Used often for blending, it has spicy floral notes. Used to make everything from table wines, sparkling wines, and desert wines to brandy. Grown in Chile, California, and Italy. Primarily used for white wines, but can also be used in red.

    Pinot Blanc: A grape with similar flavor and texture to Chardonnay. Used in Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace, Germany, Italy and California wines. Can be intense, and complex, with ripe pear, spice, citrus and honey notes. It can make wines of high quality.

    Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio: A white variant clone of the Pinot Noir grape. It usually has a delicate fragrance and a mild floral aroma. Aged in Oak barrels it can take on a vanilla sweet or smoky flavor. In the Alsace region of France, and in places like Oregon and New Zealand, Pinot Gris typically makes rich wines marked by a bit of spice. The Italian style (Pinot Grigio) tends to be fresh, crisp and refreshing.

    Pinot Meunier: Primarily grown in the Champagne region of France. It is blended with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to add fruit flavors to champagne.

    Riesling: This grape is used often to make a sweeter wine such as desert wines. It will tend to take on flavors of sweeter fruits such as pears and apple, to a slightly citrus flavor of limes. Some growths will produce a more mineral flavor. Aging this grape will cause it to take on a sweeter flavor. Riesling grows well in Germany, the Alsace region of France, the Finger Lakes region of New York, and parts of Australia and Washington State.

    Roussane: A white wine grape grown in the Rhône Valley of France. It is often blended with Marsanne. The aroma of Roussanne is often reminiscent of a flowery herbal tea. In warm climates, it produces wines of richness, with flavors of honey and pear, and full body. In cooler climates it is more floral and more delicate, with higher acidity.

    Sauvignon Blanc:Originating from the Bordeaux region in France, it produces a crisp, dry refreshing white wine. It is grown in France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, California, and South America. Depending on the climate, the flavor can range from grassy to sweetly tropical.

    Sémillon: A golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, most notably in France and Australia. The grape is heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily texture. It can age a long time and is therefore used a lot in wines. Sémillon is one of the three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. The grape is used in the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes.

    Symphony: bred by Dr. Harold Olmo in 1948 as a cross between Muscat of Alexandria and Grenache Gris. Introduced commercially in 1981 and patented in 1983. Makes a white wine with a slight spiciness and pleasant fruit aromas, sometimes including citrus or apricot and peach. Often used for blending.

    Trebbiano: One of the most cultivated grapes and found in more white wines than most other grapes. Found in many basic Italian white wines and a sanctioned grape in the blend of Chianti. A fresh and fruity grape that does not keep long in a wine. It has a high acidity making it an important wine in the production of Cognac.

    Ugni Blanc: See Trebbiano

    Verdicchio: A white grape variety grown in the Marche region of Italy. Used to produce a high quality wine of the same name. Marked by a pale, lighter bodied, crisp wine with higher acidity and nutty notes.

    Viognier: One of the most difficult grapes to grow. It produce a white wine marked with floral and spicy notes. Medium to full-bodied and very fruity, with apricot and peach aromas. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhone valley.

    The Reds

    Barbera: Most successful in Italy's Piedmont region. High acidity, deep ruby color and full body, with low tannins & berrylike flavors.

    Boal or Bual: Grown on the island of Madeira, it makes medium-sweet wines.

    Brunello: A strain of Sangiovese used to produce Brunello di Montalcino, a rare, costly Tuscan red. Flavors of black and red fruits with chewy tannins.

    Cabernet Franc: Red wine grape used in Bordeaux for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon. It is an earlier-maturing red wine, due to its lower level of tannins. Light- to medium-bodied wine with more immediate fruit than Cabernet Sauvignon and some of the herbaceous odors evident in unripe Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Cabernet Sauvignon: One of the worlds most widely recognized wines. A primary grape of the Bordeaux region of France. It is actually a relatively new variety from a chance crossing of Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc in the 17th century. Resistant to rot and easier to grow it’s ease of cultivation has made it a popular varietal of growers. Typical flavors consist of dark berries such as plums, black currants, and cassis. When aged in oak, it can develop flavors of vanilla, cedar, chocolate, and coffee. Cabernet Sauvignon also grows well in Napa, California, Washington State, Chile and Australia.

    Carignan: Known as Carignane in California, and Cirnano in Italy. Once a major blending grape for jug wines, Carignan's popularity has diminished though it still appears in some blends. Old vineyards are sought after for the intensity of their grapes

    Carmenere: Also known as Grande Vidure, once widely planted in Bordeaux. Now primarily associated with Chile. Carmenere, was imported to Chile in the 1850's. Carmenere has been frequently mislabeled by many growers and the Chilean government consider it Merlot.

    Charbono: Not a common red variety found in California, but is the second most popular grape in Argentina. Wines made from this grape tend to be higher in tannins and acidity and dark red in color. Few wineries still produce it.

    Dolcetto: A dark (almost black) grape variety grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. Usually producing a dry wine. They can be tannic and fruity with moderate levels of acidity.

    Gamay: A grape that grows easier and in much more abundance than typical grapes. Tends to be higher in acidity with a lighter body and fruity flavors. Used often in wines of the Beaujolais region of Burgundy.

    Grenache: One of the most widely planted varieties. Used mainly for blending wines in California, France and Spain. It is generally spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content. It tends to lack acid, tannin and color.

    Lambrusco: A light red, slightly sparkling, dry to sweet wine from northern Italy. Makes a wine of the same name.

    Malbec: A variety of red wine dark in color with robust tannins. One of the acceptable varieties in Bordeaux. It tends to be a harder grape to grow with a thinner skin and has therefore steadily been replaced by the other Bordeaux grapes such as Merlot and Cabernet. Argentina has become a producer of this grape as well.

    Merlot: Merlot is used both as a blending grape and a stand alone varietal of wine. Flavors consist of dark berries like plum or currant. Produces a medium bodied wine very often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. Takes less time to mature in aging than Cabernet because of less tannins contained within it.

    Montepulciano: A red wine grape that produces a wine of the same name. Primarily produced in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy. It is typically medium to full-bodied, fruity, dry wine with soft tannins. Known for its quality and value. If aged by the winery for more than two years, the wine may be labeled "Riserva."

    Mourvedre: A variety of red wine grape grown around the world. It produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends. It blends well with Grenache, softening it and giving it structure. Its taste often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavor, with soft red fruit flavors.

    Nebbiolo: The primary grape of the Piedmont region of Italy. Used in the creation of the famed Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Flavors consist of dark fruit like plums and cherries with hints of smoke and tar.

    Petite Sirah: A grape with spicy plum and blackberry flavors and a deep, ruby colored wine. Typically full-bodied with chewy tannins. Also known as the Durif grape. Used in France and California as a blending wine.

    Petit Verdot: From the Bordeaux Region of France it is used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Pinot Noir: Typically found in cooler climates and a primary grape in the Burgundy region of France. This grape is difficult to grow and cultivate, but considered by many to make the finest wines in the world. It makes a more delicate wine with a lighter body than your Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Flavors tend to be more earthy, described using terms like mushroom and dead leaves.

    Syrah/Shiraz: Originating in France but grown in many countries to make powerful red wines. Both as a stand alone varietal and in blended wines. Used in making spicy, rich, and dark wines that grow more complex with age. Known as Syrah in France and the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay , and most of the United States. Called Shiraz in Australia, South Africa, and Canada. Flavors are often described as blackberry and pepper with aromas of chocolate and espresso.

    Sangiovese: Originating from Italy and a primary component of Chianti in Tuscany. Depending on age it can have flavors of fresh fruit or strawberries when young, and oaky tarry flavors when aged in barrels.

    Tempranillo: A variety of grape grown in Spain in making full-bodied red wines. It is the main grape used in Rioja but is also planted in South America, USA, South Africa and Australia. Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones are aged for several years in oak barrels. Flavors consist of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.

    Zinfandel: A grape that has found its home in California. The taste consists of red berry fruits like raspberry in wines from cooler areas, and blackberry, anise and pepper notes wines made in warmer areas.

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