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Champagne is the only wine that people accept in such a multitude of styles. Champagnes can range from burnt, carmely oxidized to full bodied fruit and yeast characters to light and citrusy, and everything in between.

List of grape varieties - Wikipedia

Then each of these wines can be altered in its amount of residual sweetness from a bone-chilling dryness to sugar syrup. Bottle age will also alter the weight and character of each of these styles. The reds are rich, ripe, and heady, with full alcohol levels and chewy rustic flavors. Vouvray, Anjou, Quarts de Chaume and Saumer.

In other areas it is a very good blending grape. Called Steen in South Africa and their most-planted grape. California uses it mainly as a blending grape for generic table wines. It can be a pleasant wine, with melon, peach, spice and citrus. The great Loire wines, depending on the producer can be dry and fresh to sweet. From a blend of grapes this fruity, light ruby-to-garnet-colored red may be called Chianti Riserva when aged three or more years. From a designated portion of the Chianti wine district. To be labeled Chianti Classico, both vineyard and winery must be within the specified region.

The second most widely planted white variety in California, nearly all of it for jug wines. It produces an abundant crop, nearly 11 tons per acre, and makes clean and simple wines. This legendary sweet wine from South Africa, was a favorite of Napoleon.

Common Types of Wine (the top varieties)

It comes from an estate called Groot Constantia. White wine grape grown in Piedmont and Lombardy. Best known for the wine, Gavi. The grape produces a light-bodied, crisp, well-balanced wine. From northwest Piedmont it produces soft, round, fruity wines fragrant with licorice and almonds. Freezing concentrates the sugars in the grapes prior to harvesting. Low in alcohol and relatively high in acidity, the wines are meant to be drunk soon after bottling; the ultimate example of this is Beaujolais Nouveau, whipped onto shelves everywhere almost overnight. It is also grown in the Loire, but makes no remarkable wines.

The Swiss grow it widely, for blending with Pinot Noir; they often chaptalize the wines. Used mainly for blending and the making of Rose and Blush Wines in California, while in France it is blended to make Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Originally from Spain is the second most widely grown grape in the world. It produces a fruity, spicy, medium-bodied wine. An aperitif from the Burgundy Region of France. To make Kir Royale, use champagne or sparkling wine. A fizzy, usually red, dry to sweet wine from northern Italy, made from the grape of the same name.

A blended German white, semisweet and fairly neutral, which accounts for up to 50 percent of all German wine exports. A fortified wine named for the island on which its grapes are grown. Once important in Bordeaux and the Loire in various blends, this not-very-hardy grape has been steadily replaced by Merlot and the two Cabernets. However, Argentina is markedly successful with this varietal.

A distilled spirit made from pomace that is known by different names around the world. Dry and high in alcohol, typically an after dinner drink. Made from Grillo, Catarratto, or Inzolia grapes, this Sicilian wine may be dry or sweet and is commonly used in cooking.

A full-bodied, moderately intense wine with spice, pear and citrus notes. Common in medieval Europe, a wine made by fermenting honey and water. Wine makers now making flavored meads. Registered in with the U. Meritage was chosen because it was a combination of two words, merit and heritage. To be called a meritage, the wine must: Blend two or more Bordeaux grape varieties: Be produced and bottled by a United States winery from grapes carrying a U.

Be limited to a maximum of 25, cases produced per vintage. Takes well to Oak aging. It is frequently used as a blending wine with Cabernet to soften. A pleasing wine, of medium-weight, with spicy cherry and berry flavors and moderate tannins. A cross of two grapes, Sylvaner and Riesling. Light in color, and can be dry to medium dry.

Also known as Muscat Blanc and Muscat Canelli. With pronounced spice and floral notes it can also be used for blending. The great grape of Northern Italy, which excels there in Barolo and Barbaresco, strong, ageable wines. Mainly unsuccessful elsewhere, Nebbiolo also now has a small foothold in California. So far the wines are light and uncomplicated, bearing no resemblance to the Italian types. Usually full-bodied with chewy tannins. Not related to the Syrah of France. Similar flavor and texture to Chardonnay it is used in Champagne, Burgundy, Alsace, Germany, Italy and California and can make a excellent wines.

It can be intense, and complex, with ripe pear, spice, citrus and honey notes. At its best this varietal produces wines that are soft, perfumed with more color than most other white wines. Grown in the Champagne region of France, it is blended with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to add fruit flavors to champagne. Much of the time it is planted to be part of Bordeaux-style blends like Meritage. In these places it plays second fiddle to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

It plays a more prominent role in northest Italy, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine and the right bank of Bordeaux both in blends and its own varietal. Cabernet Franc pairs well with items to match almost any taste.

Bolder flavors are beautifully complemented so consider pairing with heavier, fatty meats especially those that are roasted or grilled. On the lighter side it also pairs with salmon. Olives are an exceptional match, for example a tapenade spread on good bread. Sauces made with mushrooms or olives pair beautifully, consider pairing with pasta served with sauces with these items and spiced with rosemary, thyme or mint. Cabernet Franc, a grape that originated in France, produces one of my favorite, food-friendly wines.

It's one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon and is often used to impart structure and spice to a Bordeaux-style blend. However, as a standalone grape, it's floral, fruity, herbal, and spicy, with softer tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aromas and flavors include black fruits, such as blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum, as well as herbs and spices. Now it's grown around the world, including France, California, as well as the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, where it has demonstrated that it can flourish in cooler climates.

It is vinted on its own and also a variety of wines. The grape is, relatively speaking, a new one. It came into existence in the late 17th century in southwest France when an accidental cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc happened. Cabernet Sauvignon is a hardy grape, resistant to rot and pests. It is low yielding. The late budding of Cabernet Sauvignon allows it to avoid frost. It can be grown in all climate regions where viticulture takes place. Its taste varies incredibly depending on where it is grown.


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In cooler climates it develops black currant, green bell pepper, mint and cedar flavors while in warm climates it will produce a more jammy taste. In Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon often has a menthol quality. When grown in warm climates it is ruby-colored and nearly opaque. Cooler climate Cabernet Sauvignons will be more pale. The taste and color of this particular wine will depend greatly on climate and taste of the winemaker. The cooler climate wines will be paler and higher acidity whereas warm climate Cabernet Sauvignons are darker and more dense in flavor with lower acidity. Cabernet Sauvignon does not have one area - because it is the second most planted grape in the world it can be found anywhere.

Cabernet can be paired widely although it is best paired with more moderate flavors. Strongly flavored food will complete with the wine as it is highly flavorful. Fuller-bodied Cabernet Sauvignons always pair well with rare red meats. The best thing about Cabernet Sauvignon is its incredible versatility.

There is something fascinating about a varietal that not only has such range but also learning that range and educating others about it. Between oidium and the outbreak of Phylloxera the grape all but disappeared from Europe. It was not widely replanted because it was nearly impossible to find. The climate proved to be ripe for coulure, which stopped the buds from flowering. The grape quickly grew out of favor and was replaced by more suitable grapes. It does best in moderate or warm climates but growers must be very careful of rain and irrigation toward harvest time.

Too much water at these times will increase the green pepper quality of the grapes producing far too vegetal of a taste. The grapes are naturally high in sugar but the tannins take a while to develop therefore in too hot of a climate it is not unusual to end up with wines that are unbalanced with a very high alcohol content. The wines are inky, deep red or purple. The tastes are layered and contain rich, earthy notes of leather, tar, and smoke; black pepper and vanilla; and intense fruit flavors like cherry, plum and berries.

Chile and Italy are top producers of the grape with Australia, New Zealand and Australia also producing a fair amount. Consider chili, pork stews, barbecued ribs, Mexican mole sauces, curries, eggplant or enjoy it with Camembert cheese. What I enjoy most about Carmenere is its savory character. By that I am referring to and stop me if I'm getting technical here non-fruity flavors.

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People love to pick on Carmenere for having green bell pepper notes, but the GBP overload is only in out-of-whack versions. I really like green flavors in red wine, BTW. But red wines are like Kermit in that it ain't easy being green. Also be on the lookout for some coffee and cocoa action, black pepper as well. Carmenere's flavors run deep, like the opening bass line of "The Low End Theory".

Paring-wise, pour yourself a glass alongside earthy food; just add mushrooms to any meat or starch. Chardonnay is one of the major grape varieties grown world wide. It is also one of the most popular grapes for drinkers due to its mild flavor and vintners because it is easier to grow than other grapes. The Chardonnay grape originated in the Burgundy region of France. There are many theories about its inception but the most accepted, based on DNA mapping, is that it is a cross between Pinot and Gouais blanc.

It is likely that the Romans brought Gouais Blanc from Croatia to Eastern France where it was grown by peasants near where the French upper class grew Pinot, giving the two a chance to mingle. Chardonnay is is early budding but not extremely hardy therefore it is vulnerable to unexpected spring frosts. Vineyards will prune the vines significantly prior to the buds blooming in order to delay harvest by a few weeks and miss any unexpected dips in temperature. Because it has a short growing period it can be grown in nearly every climate.

No matter where it is grown, it is susceptible to rot and must be minded carefully. The color of Chardonnay varies with the unoaked versions being a pale, yellow-gold hue. Oak aged Chardonnays are a darker gold color. Chardonnay is grown in all wine regions of the world and is one of the most commonly grown grapes. Chardonnay is best paired with seafood - both fish and shellfish - poultry and pork. A buttery Chardonnay goes best with spices like curry and tamarind while richer dishes are best eaten with a more acidic Chardonnay.

Because of the difference in Chardonnays, which swing from acidic citrusy wines to the more rounded tropical flavors, pairings are best when they offer a contrast in flavors with the food. When pairing Chardonnays with oysters a very good and common pairing stick with unoaked Chardonnays.

Pairing a 'grape variety' or better said a 'varietal wine' with food is for me nonsense. A wine who has nothing to tell about where it comes from is not interesting me. I never buy a chardonnay, I always buy an appellation, where ever it comes from, as long as it is a wine with its own character. In the past, most 'new world' chardonnay did have the same heavy body, high alcohol, big structure and aromas all coming from vinification and ageing in or with oak while 'old world' chardonnay wines had more finesse, minerality, freshness and primary aromas.


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  8. Nowadays cool climates unoaked chardonnay from the 'new world' can have the same characteristics as the real 'terroir' driven 'old world' chardonnay wines, while a big amount of 'old world made old new world style' big bastards chardonnay are simply as boring as the blockbusters of 30 years ago in the 'new world'. Due to the spread of the grape, its genetic preference for mutation and wars at the time having impact on viticulture, it is even more difficult to map the grape. The vines are fast to grow but also incredibly vulnerable to disease. Its early buds make it at risk of being damaged by frost.

    While it develops best in cool climates due to being high in sugar, it can grow in warm climates with much care. It must be picked early in warm climates to keep its sweetness and acidity, but in doing so it loses much of its aromas. This is not ideal for an aromatic grape. Aromas include lychee, with which it shares many of the same compounds, rose petal, ginger, grapefruit and burnt incense. Its flavors will be fruity and floral with notes of pineapple, citrus and stone fruits. Sumac Ridge is a longtime proponent of this extroverted cultivar, and their latest vintage Gew gushes with apple and tropical aromas before leading to a rich, fruity finish.

    Grenache is a black grape grown worldwide for use in red wines. It is the most commonly used grape in Rhone red blends whereas in Spain it is usually made into its own grape. It is one of the most grown red wine grapes in the world. While not definitive, the grape is believed to have started in the Aragon region northern Spain based on ampelographic study. This is further supported by the fact that an early name for the vine was Tinto Aragon.

    The grape likely spread to Catalonia and southern Spain - places where it is still grown today. Grenache is late-ripening so it is best grown in hot, dry climates, like those found in Spain, southern France and southern California. The grape is extremeley tolerant of heat and drought. Grenache is generally blended with bolder reds due to its lack of acid, tannin and color however Cannonau di Sardegna is required, under Sardinian D.

    When its yields are controlled it produces highly alcoholic, red fruit flavored wine with spicy white pepper notes. Grenache is pale, semi-translucent, fruity and sweet and often used to lighten and brighten heavier reds. It has the tendency to brick, or turn brownish when exposed to oxygen. Its aromas are that of sweet red fruits candied and spice like cinnamon and pepper.

    Spain and France are top producers of the grape although rumor has it that China is starting to grow large amounts of Grenache. The high alcohol, sweetness and light spice of Grenache make it the perfect dish to pair with spicy dishes include many ethnic foods. Alcohol naturally breaks down capsaicin, the chemical that gives spicy food its heat, so the wine helps cut some of the heat.

    Grenache or Garnacha, as the Spanish like to call it, may be one of the most underrated as well as one of the most delightful grape varieties. It goes from the Chateauneuf du Pape blend to the old vines of Spain or Australia, offering deep and intense flavors of dark fruit that can fascinate even the most skeptical palate! Personally I have fallen in love with the earthy wilderness and juicy notes of the Australian ones few years ago, a love that is still very alive.

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    Malbec is a purple grape used in red wine. It is one of the six grapes used in Bordeaux wine. In addition to being associated with Bordeaux it is considered an Argentinian varietal. It is grown worldwide. While there is disagreement whether the grape is indigenous to France or was spread there by a Hungarian, the grape is considered French in origin, likely having originated in northern Burgundy.

    This is contrary to what many people believe , namely that it is of Argentinian origin. Malbec is thin-skinned which makes it less resistant to vulnerabilities such as frost. The grape is not resistant to many pests although viticulturists are working on strains that are more hardy. It requires more exposure to heat and sun than other grapes. It matures late in the season and has the propensity for high yields but those significantly decrease the quality of the wine vinted from large yields.

    Its taste varies depending on where the grape is grown although it is always flavorful and rich, leading to it often being blended with other wines. French styles will be soft and less acidic with the predominant taste being blackberry. In Cahors the wine is very dark, often dark purple, and its aromatic notes include earthier scents like raisin, garlic and tobacco.

    When grown in warmer climates, in places like Argentina, Chile and Australia, the wine softens and is plush. It is juicy with fruit and violet. In very warm climates the grapes often lose so much acidity as to produce weak-tasting, less desirable wines. Argentinian Malbecs are often considered the best. Malbecs pair best with cuisine with a good spice profile. Rich tomato sauces from Italy and the Middle East pair beautifully as do roasted meats and barbequed pork. The wine pairs nicely with cuisines from around the world: While Malbec is often associated with the now popular examples coming out of Argentina, its origins actually lie in the Cahors region of Southern France.

    Malbec from Argentina's intensely sunny and dry climate offer lush, bold fruit flavors in an approachable, velvety package. They are approachable in their youth and have soft tannin - which is part of the reason for their commercial success. French Malbec, on the other hand, is a black, thick-skinned grape and the resulting wines are far more tannic, structured and savory. These wines will reward some patience in the cellar and are often less approachable in their youth. Merlot is a black grape with a dark blue skin used in blends and single varietals.

    It is associated with Bordeaux, California, Chile and Australia. It is often used in blends to reduce the harshness of other grapes and tannins. While not definitive, the grape has been seen in France since as early as and was first mentioned by name in Merlot is early ripening however there are differences in style when dealing with the grape. New World styles prefer to leave the grape on the vine for a late harvest that produces an inky wine that is very dark in color.

    These are full bodied, high alcohol content wines with a velvety or lush mouthfeel. They have black fruit notes. The traditional Bordeaux style includes early harvesting to produce a wine that is more acidic, medium-bodied, more moderate alcohol content and tastes of red fruit with vegetal notes. New World Merlots are purplish and inky with notes of blackberries and plum. Traditional Bordeaux Merlots will be lighter in color and more clear. They will taste of fresh red fruits and also contain a vegetal or leafy strike.

    When pairing Merlot with food it is important to first determine whether you have a New World or Bordeaux style Merlot. Pair a New World Merlot with chargrilled or roast beef, pork and lamb - preferably rare. Bordeaux style Merlots can be paired with grilled chops seasoned with thyme, rosemary and oregano; steaks in red wine sauce, Beef Wellington, lamb, roast poultry. If you want to take it one step further, you can even make a Chocolate Merlot Cake out of it, which I must admit looks delicious!

    Merlot got a bad wrap ever since the movie Sideways came out over a decade ago. Most wine lovers now know Merlot is one of the great wine grapes of the world. In fact, it's the most widely planted red wine grape in France. Despite it's royal roots, Merlot is a well rounded easy drinking wine with genetics relating closely to Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Depending on who makes the Merlot, the tasting notes will differ greatly. For example, New World Merlot will have higher alcohol and more dark fruits. While Bordeaux style Merlot will have lower alcohol and more red fruits. When it comes to Merlot there is certainly something for everyone. Muscat Ottonel is an aromatic white grape used to make both sweet and dry wines. In Austria, Croatia, Romania and Serbia the grape produces sweet dessert wines while in the Alsace region of France and Hungary the grapes make dry white wines.

    In Canada and the U. New York State , although to a lesser extent, it is used in both sweet and dry wines. Muscat Ottonel is an early-ripening, late harvesting, cold hardy grape that does well in damp soil and cooler climates. It is naturally less flavorful than most grapes with warm climates causing it to lose flavor. Muscat is pale in color, and light in flavor. Its flavors are a combination of floral notes like rose and stone fruit like peach.

    Muscat will also have hints of coriander. It is the most grown of the Muscat grapes in the Alsace region of France. The idea pairing for Muscat Ottonel wines, whether sweet or dry, are cream and fruit desserts. Light cakes with honey and fruit, flan or other custard based desserts, and even ice cream will pair beautifully.

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    The wine pairs surprisingly well with light fare. Salads, light fish and chicken, spicy Indian food and Turkish cuisine are your best choices. Despite a recent proliferation of wines labeled Muscat or Moscato , there's not one Muscat grape but many, ranging from white to very dark skinned and made into dry, sweet, and sparkling wines worldwide. Generally speaking, Muscat-based wines are highly perfumed with pronounced floral notes of lily, orange blossom, rose petals, candied citrus peels, and spices. The aromatic sweetness can be confusing to tasters who expect the wine to taste sweet even if it's fully dry.

    Dry Muscat wines are delicious with cheeses, lighter meats, and seafood, while sweeter styles, including sweet sparklers, are terrific with fruit, fruit desserts, spiced cakes and tarts, and creamy desserts. Late harvest and fortified styles pair well with aged and blue cheeses and desserts featuring nuts, caramel, or chocolate. It is most associated with the Piedmont region. It is a grape that produces unusual flavors after careful production and many years of aging. While not named specifically, notes from Pliny The Elder mention high quality wines in the area that sound like Nebbiolo-based wines.

    Those notes are from the first century. In , and written documents show evidence of Nebbiolo although called by similar, but not the same, names. Nebbiolo produces wines that are light red. When young they are highly tannic with aromas of rose and tar. As Nebbiolos age they develop into darker, brick-red or orange colors and become more complex in aroma and flavor including violet, tar, wild herbs, red fruits, truffles, tobacco and prunes. Because they are highly tannic they require long periods of aging to develop flavors that work with the strong tannins.

    The grape thrives in many types of soil, especially those with calcareous marl , and while it does thrive in sandy soils grapes grown there are noticeably less aromatic. The color of Nebbiolo is a light, ruby red. Some winemakers find the color unattractive and will add other grapes to make the color deeper. Nebbiolo is primarily grown in the Piedmont region of Italy and some of its neighboring regions.

    Australia and the US have also attempted growing the grape but it is often difficult to find suitable land for the grape. Nebbiolo can be difficult to pair because of its strong flavors but does pair beautifully with rich dishes. Ideally it should be paired with lamb and beef dishes like heavy stews , mushrooms and root vegetables, veal and aged cheeses because they will not be overwhelmed by its flavor.

    For me it is the Italian grape by excellence, very versatile according to the location and soil type. It loves calcareous soil, sunshine and hills. Barolo, Barbaresco, Langhe, Ghemme, Gattinara Intense aromatic often told as tar and roses" , strong tannins, high acidity. Pinotage is synonymous with South Africa having been bred there in It is used in making a distinct varietal but also blended, used to make fortified wine and red sparkling wine. The exact heritage of Pinotage is known - in it was bred as a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage Cinsaut thus being named Pinotage. The idea came from a desire to produce a grape that could make great wine while also being easier to grow than Pinot Noir.

    The first time the name Pinotage appeared publicly was on a bottle in the year Pinotage is a early ripening and easy to grow. It can be trellised or non trellised. While it does grow easily this means it must be pruned regularly to prevent too high of a yield. The wine produced is a dark, deep ruby color and nearly opaque.

    Its taste is distinctive, usually in a good way. Expect a nose full of red fruit and berries, some will have a tropical fruit note. On the palate Pinotage is a mix of the aromas with added flavors of smoke and earth. Stellenbosch, South Africa is the largest producer of Pinotage but it can be found elsewhere. Pinotage is a great wine to enjoy with dinner. It is robust and unrefined so it does well with the strong flavors of smoked duck, game, peppers, hot Indian curries, barbecue sauce, and chili. It pairs well with a cheese course especially if you are enjoying sharper cheeses like cheddar and manchego.

    South Africa's very own grape variety developed at the Stellenbosch University in the 's as a cross between the French grape varieties Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Pinotage comes in many degrees of ripeness and styles. Its best expressions are from low yielding wines with long cool ferments. This produces a fuller bodied wine, that is lightly aromatic with classic earthy, red berry fruit and improves the tannin structure.

    Some savoury smoke and meat characters are also common. Look for wines that have balanced elegance and a moderate alcohol. Lighter styles are still good drinking particularly with Boerewors and mid week dining. Pinot Gris is a grape grown worldwide and used in several varietals and blends.

    It is a popular grape when making orange wine. Its name, like Pinot Noir, includes the French for pinecone, likely because of the cluster in which the grapes grow. The clone grown in Italy is referred to as Pinot Grigio. It is a mutant strain specifically, a color variation of Pinot Noir and spread with that grape to Switzerland, Hungary, Germany and beyond. Pinot Gris grows in a cone-line cluster, making the grape susceptible to rot. It grows best in cool climates and matures early.

    The grapes themselves, even when grown on the same vine, can vary in color from the bluish grey that gained the grape its name to a pinkish brown. The grape can vary greatly in how it tastes and the wine it produces but the two varieties known best are the spicy, full bodied Alsace version and the more acidic, lighter bodied Italian version.

    Pinot Gris grows well in warm, volcanic soils but is grown worldwide in a variety of soils. Wines made from Pinot Gris range in color from golden yellow to copper. Some wines produced can even appear pink. When used in orange wine it is more copper and orange than anything else. The flavor profile of Pinot Gris changes depending on where it is grown - the grape takes on its terroir - and the style of winemaking.

    Those made in Alsace are medium to full bodied with a rich, floral bouquet. These wines will have a notable spice where others will not. Most Pinot Gris are not usually meant for aging, but those from Alsace age well. The cool climate of Oregon develops a wine that are of a medium body.

    Part 1: Grape varieties - Chenin Blanc & Grenache

    These have tree fruit and melon notes and a copper-pink hue. The warmer climate of California lends to a light bodied, refreshing wine that is crisp with a vegetal strike. The Italian version, Pinot Grigio, is light bodied and colored and has an effervescent quality and is crisp and acidic. Pinot Gris is an easier grape to grow and wine to make due to short fermentation. Because of these factors it is grown in nearly all wine regions. A light bodied Pinot Gris like those from California and Italy are best paired with shellfish and quiche.

    Those with more body pair well with white meats and pate. It produces a light-bodied, dry, refreshing wine with a citrus character and zesty acidity. Typical flavors include lemon, lime, pear, and green apple. It's a wine that's best consumed within a year or two of harvest. It makes a great aperitif and pairs well with fresh cheeses such as goat, fresh mozzarella, gruyere, and grano padano cheeses, as well vegetables, and salads.

    It also pairs well with light meals including raw fish, fish and shellfish.