A major factor influencing the flavour of any wine is the grape variety or varieties that go into making it. Understanding where they come from and at least a little about their differences helps to provide a compass for enjoyable exploration. The following is a list of grapes used in making some of our favourite wines, the regions they’re grown in, and their characteristics.
This grape is also known as Malbec or Côt Noir. The Auxerrois grape creates a neutral wine which is fruity and soft and is mainly to be found in Luxembourg and Canada. In Alsace, it’s often blended with the Pinot Blanc grape.
This is a red wine grape variety that can be found in Italy, France and the Balkan regions. The wines it produces are robust and known to age quite well.
Barbera grapes come from Montferrat (Italy), California, Australia and Argentina. They make intense, deep-coloured red wine.
This grape variety partly gave rise to the ever popular Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a variety mainly found in Bordeaux, under cooler and damper conditions than the Cabernet Sauvignon grape.
This is known as one of the “noble” grape varieties, and is popular as one of the main varieties along with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and others used to create the magnificent French Bordeaux region blended red wines.
Found in the Medoc region of Bordeaux, France, this grape is used to produce deep red wines occasionally used for blending purposes.
The Chardonnay variety is the best-known white wine grape producer in France, and is mainly to be found in the Burgundy and Chablis regions. Australia and New Zealand are also noted to have succeeded in producing great wines with the chardonnay grape.
It is also known as “Pineau de la Loire” in the Loire region of France, as “Steen” in South Africa, and as “White Pinot (Pinot Blanco)” in other parts of the world. This grape is made into fine sweet wines that age well for at least ten years.
This grape is used to make spumante-style sweet red wines, and is grown in the Piedmont region in Italy. It’s generally used to make sparkling wines.
Gamay Noir, Gamay Beaujolais and Napa Gamay are the three different types of grape that are allowed to use the Gamay name for labeling purposes. At the time, they were all thought to be a true Pinot Noir variety of Burgundy.
If the grape is picked immediately it produces a good red wine. It’s been called a clone of Pinot Noir, albeit an early ripening one.
This might be one of the more difficult wine and grape names to pronounce, but it nevertheless makes excellent wine. It is also a known clone of the Traminer variety of grapes. It’s been likened to the Johannisberg Riesling in flavour and aroma. In Australia, the grape is also known as Traminer Musque, Red Traminer, and Aromique.
This grape is also known as Alicante in southern France and Campania in Italy, although these days it grows mainly in Spain where it is also known as Garnacha. It’s used to make some of the better rosé wines of Provence in southern France.
This is a white wine grape, grown mainly along the Rhine river and its tributaries.
This grape is grown in the Bordeaux region in France, and known by other names such as Merdoc Noir, Pressac, Côt Noir, and Auxerrois. It’s used in wine blends to create the French Bordeaux claret blend of wines.
This is a classic grape and can be found mainly in the Bordeaux region of France, although it is also widely grown elsewhere. The wine from this grape bears a resemblance to the Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
This grape variety makes both red and white wines. Muscat wines include Muscat Blanc, Muscadel and Moscato di Canelli.
Nebbiolo grapes are found in the Piedmont region of Italy and used in producing light-coloured red wines.
These produce dark red wines which are rich in tannins. It’s claimed that the name originated as a result of confusion in labelling with the Syrah grape.
This grape produces a red wine lighter in colour to that of the Bordeaux type of wines. This is also the premier grape of the Burgundy region of France.
This grape has been successfully and widely grown in South Africa, and can also be found in Brazil, Canada, the USA and Zimbabwe.
This is a clone grape of the Pinot Noir variety, known by a variety of names in different regions. Pinot Gris is grown virtually around the world and produces quality wines according to the climate.
True Riesling wines come from Germany, and can be found under the names of Johannisberg Riesling and White Riesling. These grapes produce dry and sweet wine varieties.
Grown in the Tuscanny region of Italy, Sangiovese grapes are used to produce Chianti and other Tuscan wine varieties.
This grape produces the classic white wine of the same name, and can commonly be found in the Bordeaux and Loire regions of France.
Grown widely in the Bordeaux region of France, this grape is also sometimes used to produce dry white wines.
This is a clone grape of the French Syrah grape, and is found in Australia. It used to be known as “Hermitage”.
This grape variety is mainly associated with the Rhone Valley region of France which is famous for creating the Hermitage red wine.
The Tempranillo grape is used only in the best quality red wines from Spain. It has a staggering thirty synonym names to its credit.
In France and California, this grape is better known as Sauvignon Blanc, although most countries now use the Gewürztraminer grape instead.
Viognier grapes display the full spicy flavours which are somewhat similar to that of Muscat. It’s grown in the Rhone Valley in France, and in California.
This is a popular grape wine grown in California which produces robust red wines. You will also find white Zinfandel varieties of wines along with the popular blush varieties of wines.