Posts Tagged ‘varietals’

34 red wine varietals

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Here is a list of vine varieties with a description of the red wines made from them.

Variety Origin Description
Aglianico Greek Tannic, tarry wines of great breed and lasting power from southern Italy.
Alicante French Hybrid.
Undistinguished grape with highly coloured juice, teinturier.
French Hybrid.
Full-bodied, deep colour, smoky blackberry flavour.
Barbera Italian Medium colour, high acid, dry quaffing wine.
Cabernet Franc French (Bouchet)
Usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Medium-weight, herbaceous
wines suggestive of violets and raspberries.
French Deep ruby colour, black currant and cedar nose, full-bodied, tannic when young.
Capable of long ageing. Softened with Merlot, Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux
and in California and Australia.
Carignan Spain Widely planted, high yielding. Astringent table wine with good colour, used for blending.
Cinsault French Hot weather grape, deep colour and meaty flavour, low tannins. Good for blending.
French Hybrid.
Acid, tough red, slightly smoky in flavour.
Dolcetto Italian Deep-coloured, soft, fruity wine, not for ageing.
Freisa Italian Garnet colour, light, dry wine tasting of raspberries.
Gamay French Grape of Beaujolais. Fresh, fruity, light-bodied wines tasting of cherry and plums with peppery finish. Fast maturing.
California Hybrid; a crossing between Valdiguié and Pinot Noir. Not very distinguished. Fruity flavour, high acid.
Grenache   (Garnacha/Cannonau)
Fruity, high alcohol, low tannins, soft. Good for rosé. Fast maturing.
Grignolino Italian Light
colour, fragrant strawberry aroma, very dry.
Kadarka Hungary (Gamza)
Powerful, deep, full-bodied wines.
Lambrusco Italy Light, grapey, fruity, off-dry wines.
Malbec French (Côt)
Early maturing, low acid, blackberry flavour. A lesser blending grape in Bordeaux.
Maréchal Foch French Hybrid.
Deep-coloured, peppery, plummy, acidic wine.
Merlot French Purple, full-bodied wines, blackberry flavour. Less tannic and earlier maturing than Cabernet Sauvignon. Ages very well.
Mourvèdre Spanish (Mataro)
Deep-coloured, powerful wines with a spicy blackberry taste.
Nebbiolo Italian (Spanna/Chiavennasca)
The noble grape of Piedmont producing long-lasting wines that take time to soften. Brick red, truffles and violets on the nose with an austere dry finish.
Petite Sirah French Californian name for the French Duriff. Full-bodied, deep-coloured wines with peppery flavour.
French (Pinot Nero, Spätburgunder) One of the grapes of Champagne and the grape of red Burgundy. Difficult to cultivate. Garnet colour, barnyard bouquet,
raspberry flavour, medium weight. Ages very well.
French Secondary grape of Champagne. Fruity, acidic, low alcohol.
Pinotage S.Africa (Hermitage)
Pinot Noir Cinsault crossing. Robust, powerful red, inky nose. Fast maturing, ageing potential.
Primitivo Italy Massive black wines of high alcohol and intense fruit. Thought to be progenitor of the Californian Zinfandel.
Ruby Cabernet California A Carignan-Cabernet Sauvignon crossing. Deep-coloured, fruity wines but lacking the finesse and breeding of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sangiovese Italian A Chianti grape usually blended with Canaiolo. Earthy, truffle-scented wines with fine acidity and ample tannins. Capable of long ageing.
Syrah Middle East (Shiraz)
Powerful black, aromatic wines tasting of blackberries and white pepper. Capable of long ageing.
Tempranillo Spanish (Ull de Llebre) Pinot Noir-like character. Pale ruby colour, coconut and sandalwood bouquet. Dry strawberry flavour. Ages elegantly.
Touriga Naçional Portugal The best port grape. Intense dark wine with high tannin and a lovely berry nose. Other port grapes include Mourisco, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarella,
Tinta Cao and Touriga Francesa.
Xynomavro Greek Black wines of high acidity and tannin that age well.
Zinfandel California Versatile grape that can produce powerhouse to medium-weight reds, rosés and blush wines. Characterized by a blackberry flavour and intense fruit. Also
late harvest with port-like sweetness.

On this website here is a list of white wine varietals.

Varietal descriptions and pronunciations of white wines

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Here is how to pronounce the names of white varietals. And what they taste like.

Chardonnay (SHAR-doe-nay): The world’s most popular dry white; it’s medium-to full-bodied, with rich apple and citrus flavors and sometimes a buttery tone from fermentation and aging in oak barrels; a good choice for simply prepared seafood and poultry dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc (SO-vin-yawn BLONK): Generally lighter than Chardonnay, with bright melon and citrus aromas and a herbal character suggesting bell pepper or freshly mown grass; a versatile food wine for shellfish, lighter fish and chicken dishes, pasta with pesto and Caesar salad.

Riesling (REES-ling): A light-bodied wine of German origin with flowery aromas of honeysuckle, apples, and peaches; Rieslings range from slightly to very sweet and can be either table or dessert wines. Drier versions go well with chicken and pork dishes, as well as spicy foods.

Gewürztraminer (Guh-VERTZ-tra-meener): Another aromatic variety of German origin with aromas of rose petals, peaches, grapefruit, lychees, and allspice, and full, fruity, spicy flavors ideal with Asian food, ham, pork and grilled sausages.

Chenin Blanc (SHEN-in Blonk): A relatively light, fruity variety with melon, apple, and peach/apricot aromas and flavors; used to be more popular than it is today; a nice wine by itself or with casual meals (salads, sandwiches, etc.)

Muscat (MUSS-cat): A very flowery dessert-style wine, with floral and peach/apricot aromas and flavors; great with desserts of fresh fruit or fruit/nut tarts.

Other white varieties of note include Semillon (SEM-e-on), Viognier (V- OWN-yay), and Pinot Grigio (PEE-no GREEG-e-o).

This article is based on the reference guide to types of white wine.

Portugal wine regions and varieties

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The present article complements a post on reading labels of Portugal wines.

The Portuguese are a sea-faring nation – and accordingly, some of their most famous wines have been moulded by the tastes and demands of their export markets. That is the case with both Madeira and port, two of the greatest fortified wines in the world. Portugal’s table wines, though, have, until quite recently, been far more inward-looking.


The influence of the sea has been limited to moderating the climate of the vineyards on the Atlantic coast, so that the western stretch of the river Douro produces light, acidic Vinho Verdes. The climate here is cool and wet; only further upriver does it become hot and dry enough to grow grapes for port. Most of the northern two-thirds of the country gets sufficient rain for the vine’s needs; the most southerly third is hotter and drier, and only sparsely planted with vines.

Oporto with a June sunsetPort is shipped from the city of Oporto (at the mouth of the river Douro) to the rest of the world. The boats, barcos rabelos in Portuguese, were traditionally used for shipping the wine down from the vineyards further up the river. Now they have been replaced by road tankers.

The Douro Valley

Far up the valley of the Douro, where port wine is grown and made, the river has carved a path for itself through schist and granite. Terraces have to be cut into the schistous rock (the granite may not be planted with vines) for the vine to gain a foothold; it is a region of poor soil and extreme temperatures where the mountains of the Serra de Marão keep off the rain for weeks at a time in the summer. The finest vineyards are east of Pinhão where the quintas are shoulder-to-shoulder along the hillsides. Further upstream the hills flatten out and increasing labour costs are causing many companies to plant vines here because of the ease of mechanization; downriver the wines are generally of lower quality and are used to make cheaper ports.


According to legend, when the Portuguese first landed on this island off the coast of Africa in 1420, they set fire to the dense woodland that covered the entire island. The fire continued to burn for many years, and at the end of it the already rich volcanic soil was even more fertile, enriched with ash. Nowadays it is hard to miss the fecundity of Madeira’s soil. Flowers are everywhere, and bananas compete with vines for land. Rich though the soil is, only the slopes around the coast are planted with vines. The centre is too mountainous and is usually cloud-covered. Indeed, there is no flat land at all on Madeira: the mountains drop straight into the sea and the vines have to be planted on terraces. Humidity, and the problems of rot that go with it, are a constant problem.

Grape Varieties

There are many indigenous Portuguese grapes. Red varieties include the Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and others used in making port and Douro table wines – Baga in Bairrada, and Periquita, Trincadeira and Aragonês (Tinta Roriz) in the south. Tinta Negra Mole still accounts for about half of the plantings on Madeira.

Of the white varieties, Arinto is grown almost everywhere, while Alvarinho is important in Vinho Verde. Fernão Pires contributes character to the southern wines. Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malvasia, along with Terrantez, make the classic styles of Madeira.

47 white wine varietals

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Here is a list of vine varieties with a description of the white wines made from them.

Aligoté French Poor man’s Burgundy. Pale, light, crisp wine. Not for ageing.
Alvarinho Portugal Produces Vinho Verde, very crisp, light with a slight prickle.
Auxerrois French Acidic, very dry and full-bodies, Chablisesque.
Bacchus German Silvaner, Riesling and Müller-Thurgau cross. Flowery, light Moscato bouquet, low acidity. Used mainly for blending.
Bual Madeira Sweet full-bodies fortified wine, burnt amber colour, fig-like bouquet.
Chardonnay French Ranges from crisp, apple-like flavours in cool climates to caramel, pineapple
and tropical tones in warm areas. Buttery, toasty or clove-like finish.
Ages well, usually in oak.
Chasselas E.
Light, crisp wine with delicate bouquet in Switzerland. Rather insipid elsewhere.
French Honeyed, high-acid wines in the Loire. Lots of fruit. Ages many years. California
model is much softer and fruitier.
Colombard French (French Colombard) Originally a cognac grape, now grown in California for soft,
flowery wines.
California High-yielding Muscadelle, Riesling cross. Aromatic, soft, fruity.
Californian name for Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon/Sémillon blend. Fruitier and
less grass than Loire model.
French Once a major grape in Cognac. High acid, not much character.
Furmint Hungary Principal grape of Tokay. Can be dry, off-dry or sweet. Apple or apricot and toffee bouquet, depending on style.
Gewürztraminer Italy (Traminer)
Spicy, exotic, rose petal and lychee bouquet. Can be dry (Alsace) or sweet (Germany, California).
Grüner Veltliner Austria Fresh, lively, fruity, dry wine for drinking young as in the “new” wine, Heurige.
Hárslevelü Hungary Spicy, full-bodied, aromatic. Good for sweet wines.
Jacquère French Light, very dry and brisk wine from Savoie.
Kerner German Red
Trollinger, Riesling cross. Spicy, fruity wines with good acidity.
Malvasia Greek Produces lusciously sweet dessert wines in warm climates and crisp dry ones in northern areas. The grape of the sweet Madeira, Malmsey.
Marsanne French Deep-coloured, high-alcohol wines blended with the more delicate Roussanne in the Rhône.
Morio-Muscat German Silvaner, Pinot Blanc cross. Full-bodied, fruity with spicy bouquet.
Müller-Thurgau German Riesling, Silvaner cross (or two clones of Riesling). Less acidic than Riesling,
soft and fruity. Lacks ageing potential.
Muscadelle French Perfumey grape used to add bouquet to some white Bordeaux (Sauvignon and Sémillon).
Muscadet French (Melon de Bourgogne) Light, pale, racy wines with lively acidity from the Loire.
Moscato Greek Perfumed, raisiny bouquet with a characteristic spiciness in dessert wines. Can also be made dry as in Alsace and Australia.
Palomino Spanish The grape of sherry. Neutral wine, low acidity.
Pedro Ximenez Spanish A very sweet white wine used in sherry, thought to be Riesling.
Picolit Italian Dessert wine grape of Friuli. Deep coloured, rich, slightly bitter.
Pinot Blanc French (Pinot Bianco/Weissburgunder) Relative of Chardonnay but with less character and ageing potential. Best from Alsace.
Pinot Gris E. Europe (Pinot Grigio, Ruländer) Full-flavoured, elegant wines capable
of ageing.
Riesling German (Johannisberg Riesling, Rhine or White Riesling)
Finest German variety, capable of making a range of wines from steely dry to toffee-sweetness. Floral nose, keen acidity.
Rkatsiteli E. Europe All-purpose grape producing ordinary table wines, dessert wines and fortified wines.
Sacy French The name suggests it all. Frisky, tart wine from Chablis region.
Savagnin French Makes Sherry-style vin jaune in the Jura region.
Sauvignon Blanc French Makes grassy, gooseberry, smoky wines in the Loire and accompanies Sémillon
in dry and sweet wines of Bordeaux. California model is rounder and fruitier and fig-like.
Scheurebe German Silvaner, Riesling cross. Aromatic, fruity with pronounced acidity. Best in dessert style.
Sémillon French Honey and apricot bouquet when affected by Botrytis (see page 22). Blended with Sauvignon Blanc for dry Bordeaux. Lacks acidity.
Sercial Portugal Produces the driest, lightest style of Madeira. Good acidity. Ages well.
Seyval Blanc French Hybrid.
Makes dry wines with a grassy, green plum flavour. Does not age well.
Silvaner Austrian Mild, neutral wine with good body. Useful for blending.
Trebbiano Italian (Ugni Blanc, St. Emilion) Pale colour, high acid, medium-body, shy bouquet.
Verdelho Spain Produces off-dry Madeira and soft, nutty table wines.
Verdicchio Italian Crisp, dry wines with a hint of bitterness.
Vidal French Hybrid.
Good fruit and acidity. Can range in styles from tart Sauvignon Blanc to Late Harvest and Icewine.
Viognier French Rich, elegant, full-bodied, floral-peachy wine especially in the Rhône.
Capable of ageing.
Viura Spanish (Macabeo)
Fruity aromatic wines with high acidity capable of wood ageing.
Welschriesling French (Riesling Italico, Laskiriesling, Olaszriesling)
Floral, zesty, versatile but not as elegant as Johannisberg (White or Rhine) Riesling.

On this website here is a list of red wine varietals.