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Wine Grape Varieties
The heart and soul of any Wine are the grapes or a blend of various grapes that have gone into making it. The quality of grapes directly influences the quality and character of Wine produced.

There are a number of grapevine species around the globe and hundreds of grape varieties growing on them. Not all of them are considered appropriate for making Wines. Vitis vinifera, the European grapevine species, is the source of most popular Winemaking grapes. Some of them are listed below:

Red Grape Varieties

  • Cabernet Sauvignon - Considered one of the best grape varieties. Widely planted worldwide. Originally from France (Bordeaux). Also grown in Italy, USA, Chile, Argentina, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Notes - Medium- to full-bodied with a good structure and hints of cedar, spice and blackcurrant. High in tannin.
  • Merlot - Used for blending as well as on its own. Mainly grown in France, Italy, California, Romania and Australia. Notes - Softer and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium-bodied and well-rounded with notes of berry, plum and blackcurrant.
  • Cabernet Franc - Usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Grown in France (Loire Valley and Bordeaux), Italy, USA, Spain, Hungary, Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and Romania. Notes - Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium-bodied with peppery nose and hints of tobacco, raspberry and cassis.
  • Sangiovese - Originally from Tuscany region in Italy. One of the best grape varieties in Italy. Main component of Chianti. Also grown in Australia, Argentina and California. Notes - Fruity and medium-bodied with a speck of spices and herbs.
  • Zinfandel - Can make full to medium reds and rosés. Mostly grown in California. In Europe known as Primitivo. Notes - Fruity (mostly blackberry flavour) with a very rich texture and high alcohol content.
  • Shiraz/Syrah - Believed to be the oldest Wine producing grape. Originally from Iran. Grown in France, USA, Australia, Canada and South Africa. Notes - Richly flavoured and full-bodied. Aroma depends on the growing region. Specks of blackberry and pepper are usually present.
  • Pinot Noir - A difficult grape to cultivate! Grown mostly in the cooler regions of the world. Originally from Burgundy region of France. Pinot Noir is known as Pinot Nero in Italy and Spätburgunder in Germany. Well known for producing some of the finest reds and sparklings. Notes - A light to medium-bodied Wine, exhibits intense bouquet and rich flavours of summer fruits. Mostly currants, raspberries and cherries. A perfect companion for virtually any occasion.
  • Barbera
  • Carignan
  • Dolcetto
  • Durif
  • Gamay
  • Grenache
  • Malbec
  • Mourvedre
  • Nebbiolo
  • Tempranilla
  • Pedro ximenez
  • Traminer (Gewurztraminer)
  • Verdot / Petit Verdot
White Grape Varieties

  • Reisling - A robust grape, originally from Germany. Also grown in France (Alsace), Northern Italy, Australia, Austria, New York, California and Washington. Ingredient for some of the finest white Wines. Notes - Could be dry to very sweet. Evocative fruitfulness and an intense bouquet with mineral flavours.
  • Chardonay - A classic white Wine grape variety from Bourgogne region of France. It is capable of making great Wines on its own. Also used for making Champagnes. Produced by almost every major Wine producing nation. Notes - Soft and full-bodied with fruity flavours. Acquires smokey, caramel, and butter aroma when aged in oak.
  • Chenin Blanc - A widely grown grape variety originally from Loire Valley in France. Also grown in Argentina, Australia and South Africa. Chenin Blanc is one of the most versatile grape varieties. Can be used for making still Wines, fortified Wines, dessert Wines as well as sparkling Wines. It can grow in diverse climatic conditions and soil types. Notes - Generally, Wines made from Chenin are sweeter than Chardonay. Chenin is a medium-bodied Wine with characteristics of citrus fruits and minerals.
  • Sauvignon Blanc - Another versatile grape variety. Can produce Wines from dry and light to sweet and full. Originates from Bordeaux region of France. Also grown in Australia and Northern and Southern America. Notes - Richly flavoured Wine with aromas of tropical fruits and herbs. Chilled Sauvignon Blanc goes well with cheese and sea food.
  • Sémillon - Mostly blended with Sauvignon Blanc (to produce Sauternes). Dry whites and dessert Wines. France and Australia. Also in Argentina and South Africa. Ages well.
  • Roussanne
  • Pinot Grigio - Produces medium bodied Wines with floral aromas.
  • White Zinfandel - Produces light and fruity off-dry to sweet rosé wine.
  • Furmint
  • Marsanne
  • Muscat
  • Ugni blanc
  • Verdelho
  • Verdicchio
  • Viognier
Updated: Sunday, June 3, 2007, 05:35 AM

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