An important characteristic determining the flavour and character of a wine is the grape variety it is produced from. There are thousands of grape varieties contributing to a vast array of different wine styles with each variety having its own distinct flavours and characteristics.
Varieties can be made uniquely to make a wine, in which case the wine is known as a varietal, or collectively with other varieties, when the wine is known as a blend.
This fine Italian varietal lends itself well to dry, acidic, crisp styles.
A traditional grape of Burgundy, Pinot Blanc is a subtle varietal that should be gently taken through a cool fermentation and then barrel aged.
The Muscat family of grapes (which inclues Orange Muscat, Muscat Canelli and Muscat de Frontignan) all exhibit heady floral aromas while packing a strong fig-guava punch.
Typically thought of as a German varietal, this grape actually originated in northern Italy. It is often made in sweet or off-dry styles and carries floral and spice notes.
Laden with floral, apricot and peach notes, Riesling makes wonderful sweet as well as dry wines – all aromatic and lush in aroma and flavor.
Often called the „King of the White Varietals,“ Chardonnay has never been more popular among wine consumers. When crisp, bright and judiciously oaked, Chardonnay lives up to its royal title.
The „Other Chardonnay“ is a native of the Bordeaux region of France. Sauvignon Blanc is relatively easy to make and can range from grassy and vegetal to fruity and floral. It is often fermented cold and not barrel aged.
The Syrah grape originated in Asia Minor where it was called the „Shiraz“ grape, as it still is by the Australians. Syrah makes up the primary red wines of the Rhone Valley of France and can make for lush, berry-cherry wines or spare, truffle-earthy wines.
Zinfandel is one of the most popular grapes grown in California and is known for its robust tannins, well-rounded aromas and lush flavors. Jammy, berry, fruit and black pepper are the most common descriptors.
The superstar of the Tuscan winemaking scene, Sangiovese takes a long, warm growing season to produce the best fruit, redolent of truffles, blackberries and black currants.
Cabernet Sauvignon is perhaps the most famous grape varietal in the world. California’s best red wines often are made of this grape, which is suprisingly easy to grow and make into wine. Abundant aromas and flavors are black currant, bell pepper, cedar and blackberry jam.
Merlot is the most important grape varietal grown in Bordeaux and forms the backbone of many „meritage“ (Bordeaux-style) blends. It is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, but displays more fruity than herbaceous or vegetal character.
Burgundy’s most important red grape varietal, Pinot Noir has become a sort of Holy Grail for winemakers of late. It is a very difficult wine to get right. Its brambleberry and coffee aromas often show their best in the most expensive cool-climate fruit.