JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GRAPE VARIETALS?

I CAN HELP

FACT: There are, quite literally, thousands of different grape varietals in the world, most of which are only known at a local level. Of these, only a handful have successfully achieved 'international status,' particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. On my website, I am delighted to offer an ever-growing list of these varietals (both famous and obscure) in the hopes of helping those who wish to learn more about the grapes that make up the contents inside their glasses --- this list will probably get pretty big, so keep an eye on it!


CLICK BELOW FOR DIFFERENT SECTIONS:
-LIST OF RED GRAPE VARIETALS
-LIST OF WHITE GRAPE VARIETALS
-LIST OF 'HYBRID' GRAPES

RED WINE GRAPES

Suffice it to say, the sheer number of red grapes in the world that are used to make wine is gigantic; so much so that even the more knowledgeable wine enthusiasts would probably only be able – if asked on the spur of the moment – to name, say, maybe fifty red grapes...

HERE IS A LIST OF RED GRAPE VARIETALS:

  • Abouriou --- red grape varietal, produced mainly in southwest France (specifically in the Côtes du Marmandais), as well as (in very tiny amounts) in California; often blended, wines made from Abouriou usually contain some nice fruit and medium colour extraction.
  • Aghiorgitiko (or Agiorgitiko) --- red grape varietal, found in Greece (mostly in the Peloponnese); one of the most important red grapes of Greece; capable of producing many different styles of wine, from light-dry wines to sweet-dessert wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include balanced acidity and bright fruit.
  • Aglianico --- red grape varietal, grown mostly in Campania (southern Italy), as well as Basilicata; also cultivated in very small quantities in Australia and California; an ancient vine, capable of producing some very nice full-bodied wines, which can also be capable of mid-to-long-term aging.
  • Alvarelhão --- red grape varietal, grown mainly in Portugal, particularly in the Douro and Dão winegrowing regions (it is also found in Galacia, Spain); used as a blending grape for Port, as well as dry reds and rosé; generally light in character.
  • Auxerrois --- see Malbec.
  • Baga --- red grape varietal, grown mostly on the Iberian peninsula (especially Portugal, most notably in the Bairrada winegrowing region); thick-skinned, Baga is usually blended with other local red grapes; a substantial amount is also used to make rosé; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include extremely high tannins, as well as powerful aromas and berry flavours; it can age extremely well.
  • Barbara --- red grape varietal (almost worthy of 'noble' status); originally from northwest Italy, and second only to Sangiovese in terms of overall production throughout the peninsula; capable of producing excellent dry table wine, especially when yields are kept to a minimum; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include some astringency, luscious fruit, dark plums, and a full mouthfeel.
  • Bastardo --- see Trousseau.
  • Blauer Portugieser --- see Portugieser.
  • Blaufränkisch --- red grape varietal, found principally in Austria (it is also grown in Germany and Washington State, where it is called Lemberger; it is also cultivated in Eastern Europe); particularly dark-skinned, it ripens late and is high-yielding, and yet it is capable of producing some very nice wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include fruity-red cherries, blackberries, light spice, and high tannins.
  • Bonarda --- red grape varietal, found mainly in Italy (of which there are now known, quite confusingly, to be three different varietals of the same name), Argentina, and California; late-ripening, it is often blended with other grapes (such as Malbec in Argentina).
  • Brachetto --- red grape varietal, practically exclusive to Piedmont, Italy (though it may be related to a grape called 'Braquet' in Provence, France), where it can be used to make wines in all sorts of styles, most famously in a somewhat fizzy mode; low in alcohol, light in colour, and quite fragrant as a whole, wine enthusiasts find themselves increasingly drawn to the charms of this peculiar grape.
  • Braquet --- see Brachetto.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon --- a 'noble' red grape varietal; one of the most widely planted 'international' grapes in the world; often blended with other such varietals as Merlot and Cabernet Franc (such as in Bordeaux, California, and Australia) to produce a more complex, often superior wine; currently making excellent strides in Chile, Argentina, and South Africa; often blended to make superb 'Super Tuscans' in Italy; when unblended (as it often is, in more 'entry level' wines) in California, Argentina, and Chile, it can still produce an excellent vinous beverage; high-quality wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon are usually capable of extraordinary aging potential; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include black currants (and other dark fruit), earthy tones, vanilla and mocha (from barrel aging), along with tobacco (and cigar box), mint, leather, and many other things as it ages.
  • Cabernet Franc --- a 'noble' red grape varietal; often blended (as a tertiary grape) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, such as in Bordeaux and California, making it one of the most important blending grapes in the world; routinely non-blended  in the Loire region of France; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include heavy bouquet, herbaceous notes, light strawberries, red licorice, and straightforward mouthfeel.
  • Canaiolo --- red grape varietal, found mainly in Tuscany, where it is customarily blended with Sangiovese to make Chianti --- utilized mostly because it adds density to the blend, otherwise most wine experts are convinced it is not a particularly good-quality grape varietal.
  • Cannonau --- see Grenache.
  • Carignan --- red grape varietal; one of the most important grapes in southern French winegrowing regions, but, at least until very recently, has been generally under-developed in terms of potential quality --- now a revitalization appears to be in progress; also grown in Spain, California, and South Africa; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include spicy notes and juicy fruit.
  • Carmenère --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, which, until quite recently, was long thought to be a type of Merlot; used as a Bordeaux blend in past centuries, but now most famous for its success in Chile, where it is considered by most to be the nation's 'flagship' grape varietal; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include blackberries, coffee bean notes, and chewy fruit.
  • Castelão (or Periquita) --- red grape varietal, which used to be called 'Periquita' (but this name is no longer used because of a brand of the same name); practically exclusive to Portugal, it is dark-skinned, low in acidity, and high in alcohol; best for young, fruity wines; it is often blended with other grape varietals.
  • Chiavennasca --- see Nebbiolo.
  • Cinsault --- red grape varietal, used primarily for blending in southern France (including the Rhône, Provence, and the Midi), along with South Africa and Lebanon; grown in hot climates, Cinsualt is generally considered to be a 'neutral' grape, in that its characteristics are generally unremarkable (except when it is cultivated in low yields, and then it can give off some very lush fruit); usually blended with Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvèdre.
  • Concord --- red grape varietal, indigenous to North America under the category of Vitis lambrusca (wich is not to be confused with the actual Lambrusco grape varietal); most writers tend to refer to Concord as having a 'foxy' character, and not really capable of producing quality wines; and yet, Concord has established itself well as making for excellent jelly and juice (judging by television commercials).
  • Corvina --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, most famously used as the predominant blending grape in the making of 'Amarone' (a very full-bodied, prestigious type of wine) in the Veneto winegrowing region of Italy; capable of producing wines with excellent aging potential; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include lively fruit (such as blueberries), little chocolaty notes (often bitter), and even some meat-like content.
  • Dolcetto --- red grape varietal, native to Italy (grown mainly in Piedmont); nearly worthy of 'noble' status, Dolcetto is capable of producing some adorably fruity and supple wines that are best drunk young; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include soft nose and fruit, as well as a refreshing mouthfeel.
  • Durif --- see Petite Sirah.
  • Freisa --- red grape varietal, found mainly in Piedmont (Italy), where it is most often used to make sweet and fizzy wines; grown quite easily, it makes for a light, raspy-style wine; some producers in the United States have also been, quite literally, fooling around with it.
  • Gaglioppo --- red grape varietal, found primarily in southern Italy (particularly in Calabria); of ancient origins, it is said to have remarkable potential for making alcoholic, tannic, full-bodied reds of notably-high quality.
  • Gamay --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, though one with a checkered history (it was once considered a "disloyal grape" by the prince of Burgundy in the late-fifteenth century); today, it is best known for Beaujolais (at its best within the ten 'crus,' which are located in the northern end of the appellation); it is also grown (albeit in varying quantities) in the Loire (France), New Zealand, Canada, Australia, and South Africa; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include raspy fruit (sometimes plums and cherries), notable acidity, and appealingly soft flavours.
  • Gamza --- see Kadarka.
  • Garnacha --- see Grenache.
  • Graciano --- red grape varietal, found primarily in the Rioja winegrowing region of Spain (in very small quantities); also grown in the south of France, as well as California (where it is called 'Xres'); known to have a 'softy spiciness' about it, Graciano is prone to disease, yet is capable of producing wines of notable quality; it is most often blended, as a minority grape, with other varietals (such as Tempranillo).
  • Grenache --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, and one of the most widely planted grapes around the world; often blended with other grapes, such as in Australia (where it is comonly blended with Shiraz and Mourvèdre) and the southern Rhône winegrowing region of France (where it is often blended with more than a half-dozen or so other grape varietals); grown at all quality levels in Spain and Portgual, where it is also regularly blended with other grapes; it is called 'Cannonau' in Sardinia, Italy; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include blueberries and raspberries, rich perfume, and powerful tannins.
  • Grignolino --- red grape varietal, localized in the winegrowing region of Piedmont (Italy), particularly around Asti; usually used to make light-style red wines and rosé, which are meant to be drunk young.
  • Kadarka --- red grape varietal, found throughout Hungary and other countries in Eastern Europe (known as Gamza in Bulgaria); recognized for producing wines of straight, spicy-like character, wines made from Kadarka tend to age noticeably well.
  • Kotsifali --- red grape varietal, found mostly in Crete (Greece); low in overall structure (such as tannic content and acidity), it is often used for blending, particularly with the Mandilaria grape varietal; can produce wines of some spiciness.
  • Kratosija --- red grape varietal, practically exclusive to the Tikveš winegrowing region of The Republic of Macedonia; there is little additional information available on this particular grape.
  • Lagrein --- red grape varietal, found mainly in the Trento-Alto-Adige winegrowing region of northern Italy (it is also grown in minute quantities in Australia); used to produce wines of somewhat bitter-like content, as well as dark rosé.
  • Lambrusco --- red grape varietal, most widely cultivated in the Emilia-Romagna winegrowing region of Italy; used to make sparkling wine and dry, light reds; for the most part, Lambrusco is, more or less, considered to be an unremarkable grape; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include floral scents and almost-sweet fruit.
  • Lemberger --- see Blaufränkisch.
  • Limnio --- red grape varietal, found in Greece, originally from the island of Lemnos (and is one of the oldest grapes on record; it is even mentioned in Hesiod); a 'dark' grape that ripens late, it is nowadays often blended with Bordeaux grapes; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include berry-like flavours and light-spicy notes.
  • Malbec --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, orginally from Southwest France (where it is sometimes referred to, locally, as Auxerrois [not to be confused with an Alsatian grape of the same name]), but now grown at its best in Argentina, where it is considered to be a sort-of national 'flagship' grape varietal; (it is also still used as a minor grape for blending in Bordeaux, France); also used for blending in Australia, New Zealand, and California; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include herbaceous/leafy notes, lush tannins, and heavy fruit.
  • Mandilaria --- red grape varietal, found most prominently on the Aegean Islands of Greece (such as Rhodes and Crete); carrying a rich colour and average acidity (sometimes harsh), it is often blended with other local grapes to produce some very enjoyable wines.
  • Mataro --- see Mourvèdre.
  • Mavrodafni (or Mavrodaphne) --- red grape varietal, practically exclusive to Greece (particularly in the northern Peloponnese); used to make both 'dark' reds and sweet-fortified wines; capable of producing wines of fairly decent quality.
  • Mencía --- red grape varietal, found virtually exclusively in northwestern Spain (most notably in Bierzo); used mainly for making enjoyably light, fruity-acidic reds, which have come to be noted for their quality; it is also commonly blended with Garnacha (or Grenache).
  • Merlot --- a 'noble' red grape varietal; often blended (as a secondary grape) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, such as in Bordeaux, California, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and South America (it can be found in virtually in every winegrowing nation in the world); primary grape in several of the world's most prestigious red wines, such as Petrus (Bordeaux, France) and Masetto (Tuscany, Italy); capable of producing wines of excellent aging potential; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include luscious fruit, fleshy notes, vanilla scents, mocha extract, and lots of body.
  • Monastrell --- see Mourvèdre.
  • Mondeuse --- red grape varietal, virtually exclusive to the Savoie (or Savoy) winegrowing region of France; in trace quantities, it can also be found in Argentina, Australia, and California; dark-skinned and with heightened acidity, it tends give off peppery notes; for some people, it reminds them of a cru Beaujolais; it is most often blended with other grape varietals.
  • Montepulciano --- red grape varietal, grown primarily in the Abruzzo winegrowing region of Italy (as well as other places in central Italy); best recognized for its dark nuances, Montepulciano is arguably a favourite among wine enthusiasts who want a decent-quality red quaffer for afternoon drinking; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include 'dark' scents and rich fruit.
  • Mourvèdre --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, originally from Spain (where it is called 'Monastrell'); usually blended with other varietals, particularly in the southern Rhône winegrowing region of France (most importantly in the famous appellation of Châteauneuf-du-Pape), as well as other areas of southern France; also grown in Spain, Australia (where it can also be called Mataro), and California to an ever-appreciating audience; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include light wooden notes and sweet-ripe fruit.
  • Nebbiolo (or Spanna) --- a 'noble' red grape varietal; most famous for its usage in making world-class (and, in some cases, prestigiously expensive) wines in Piedmont, Italy (most famously under the titles of 'Barolo' and 'Barbaresco,' which are two D.O.C.G. appellations in the region); it is also found in Lombardy, where it is usually called 'Spanna' (it is called 'Chiavennasca' in the Valtellina D.O.C.); outside of Italy, Nebbiolo is grown in California and Australia (though high quality is very rare in both places); capable of producing wines of exceptional aging potential; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include dry fruit, heavy tannins, and austerity when drunk young.
  • Négrette --- red grape varietal, grown in the south of France (near Toulouse and the Midi), as well as in tiny amounts in California; known to be very 'black' in varietal character, it is most often used to make 'Côtes du Frontonnais,' a type of wine which can be very smooth and possess notes of dark berries.
  • Negroamaro --- red grape varietal, mostly grown in southern Italy, particularly in the province of Puglia; sometimes nicknamed "bitter black," Negroamaro is quite full-bodied and fresh, and is most often blended with the Primitivo red grape varietal; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include dark notes and tannic fruit.
  • Nero d'Avola --- red grape varietal, practically exclusive to Sicily (Italy); though having underperformed in the past, Nero d'Avola is showing excellent promise, especially when it is blended with other grape varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include a dark nose of deep fruit and berries (with a slightly acidic note), as well as spicy black currants.
  • Periquita --- see Castelão.
  • Petite Sirah (or Durif) --- red grape varietal (not to be confused with 'Syrah/Shiraz'), originally from southern France (where it is related to Durif), now grown mainly in California (and Mexico), it can produce some interesting flavours; most often blended with other grapes, but increasingly seen on its own; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include rustic-like tannins and intriguing fruit-driven flavours.
  • Petit Verdot --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, but one which is best understood in terms of 'minimalism' --- Petit Verdot is arguably the most important mininmal (about two-to-five percent) blending grape for high-quality wines (paricularly in Bordeaux, France) in the world; it is also being used in increasing proportions in Australia, California, Argentina, and Chile; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include dark violets, rich and creamy fruit, and ripe tannins.
  • Pinotage --- red grape varietal (a cross-breed between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, first created in 1925); grown primarily in South Africa, but also can be found (albeit in far lesser amounts) in New Zealand, California, and even South America; capable of producing wines of many different styles, from dry reds to dessert wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include spicy-coffee perfumes, barnyard-like notes, and heavy fruit.
  • Pinot Meunier --- red grape varietal, grown mainly as a blending grape for sparkling wine in the winegrowing region of Champagne (in fact, it is the most widely planted grape in the region, about 35%); also planted (though to a far lesser extent) in Australia and Germany (where it is called Schwarzriesling); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics (for sparkling wine) generally include soft fruit and good body texture.
  • Pinot Nero --- see Pinot Noir.
  • Pinot Noir --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, known for its thin skin and difficulty to harness; grown mainly throughout the French winegrowing region of Burgundy, Italy (where it is called Pinot Nero), as well as in New Zealand, Australia, California, the Pacific Northwest, Chile, Argentina, Canada, and South Africa; currently considered very fashionable as a result of its exposure in cinema; because of its difficulty to grow and present popularity, high-quality Pinot Noir wines are expensive to obtain; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include violets, fleshy notes on the fruit, red licorice, berries, and mocha.
  • Portugais Bleu --- see Portugieser.
  • Portugieser --- red grape varietal, most notably found in Germany and Austria (where it tends to be called Blauer Portugieser), as well as France (where it is called Portugais Bleu), Hungary, and Romania; despite its name, it is not from Portugal; capable of producing smooth, fruity reds.
  • Poulsard (or Ploussard) --- red grape varietal, found in the Jura winegrowing region of France; thin-skinned and of pale-red colour, they are characterized by red berries and mineral-like notes; often blended with Trousseau.
  • Refosco --- red grape varietal, found in northeast Italy (particularly in Friuli); while its origins are not yet fully understood, it remains capable of producing dark-coloured, tannic reds, which often contain high levels of acidity; a late-ripener, notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include currants, light berries, and plums.
  • Ribolla Nera --- see Schioppettino.
  • Rondinella --- red grape varietal, grown almost exclusively in the Veneto winegrowing region of Italy; unremarkable as a whole, it is most famously used as part of a blend in 'Valpolicella' (or 'Amarone'), along with Corvina and Molinara.
  • Rossese --- red grape varietal, practically exclusive to the Ligurian winegrowing region of Italy; capable of producing decent dark reds, which are said to be best drunk young.
  • Ruby Cabernet --- red grape varietal (a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, first created in 1936); mostly grown (albeit in hardly sizeable quantities) in California, but also cultivated in South Africa, South America, and Australia; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include "pleasant" notes (according, correctly, to Max Allen) and high alcoholic content.
  • Sagrantino --- red grape varietal, found mainly in central Italy (particularly Umbria) where it is capable of producing excellent full-bodied wines, with long-aging potential; in the past, it is was largely used to make dessert wine; extremely tannic, better viticultural practices have resulted in softer, more approachable wines fom this grape; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include dark red cherries, light spice, and earthy notes.
  • Sangiovese --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, grown mainly in Italy, but also in California and Australia; one of the most important grapes in Italy, where it is most famous for being the main varietal in Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, both of which are made in Tuscany; the most important red grape in Italy; capable of producing long-aging wines; nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include wild cherries, mild dry-wood scents, and flamboyant fruit.
  • Saperavi --- red grape varietal, indigenous to Georgia, but also grown in tiny amounts in Australia; often blended, wines produced from this grape are usually quite deep and have the potential for good aging.
  • Schiava (or Vernatsch)--- red grape varietal, found mainly in the Trentino-Alto Adige winegrowing region of northern Italy (nearer to Austria, it tends to be called Vernatsch); also found in Germany, particularly in Württemberg (where it is called Trollinger); recognized for producing sound light-coloured, fruity wines, which tend to be low in tannin, acidity, and alcohol; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include light berry notes (particularly strawberries).
  • Schioppettino (or Ribolla Nera) --- red grape varietal, originating in the Friuli winegrowing region of northeastern Italy; grown in small quantities, it is capable of producing light-bodied, peppery wines (with high acidity) to concentrated, powerful reds; it is also sometimes made into a fizzy wine.
  • Schwarzriesling --- see Pinot Meunier.
  • Spanna --- see Nebbiolo.
  • Syrah/Shiraz --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, best known for the powerful, ageworthy wines it can produce; widely grown throughout the world, but reaches its pinnacle of quality in the northern Rhône winegrowing region of France, as well as throughout Australia; also showing excellent promise in Chile and New Zealand; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include spicy (even pepper) perfumes, creamy textures, lots of fruit, and vanilla extract.
  • Tannat --- red grape varietal, best known for its use in Madiran, a small winegrowing region located in Southwest France; often blended, Tannat is a very dark and powerful grape, which can be extremely harsh unless blended with other grape varietals (such as Cabernet Sauvignon); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include rough tannins and dark fruit.
  • Tempranillo --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, most famously grown in Spain and Portugal (where it is called Tinta Roriz), also produced - in far lesser quantities - in Argentina, Chile, Australia, and other 'New World' winegrowing countries; whether blended or on its own, Tempranillo is capanble of producing wines of excellent mid-to-long-term aging potential; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include vanilla, light wooden-rustic notes, and powerful fruit.
  • Tinta Roriz --- see Tempranillo.
  • Touriga Franca --- red grape varietal (also called Touriga Francesca), practically exclusive to Portugal; an important blending grape in the making of Port, but also used (blended) to make excellent dry table wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include well-developed perfumes, as well as hints of blackberries and rose pedals.
  • Touriga Nacional --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, practically exclusive to Portugal; because of its dark colour and ability to retain excellent tannins, it is the most important blending grape in the making of Port; in the past several years, it has also come to be recognized as a superb grape for making high-quality dry table wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include dark aromas, soft tannins, and rich berries.
  • Trollinger --- see Schiava.
  • Trousseau (or Bastardo)--- red grape varietal, found mainly (in very low quantities) in the Jura winegrowing region of France, yet is believed to be related to Portugal's 'Bastardo' (one of many grapes allowed to be used to make Port); in the Jura, it is often blended with Poulsard to make deep-coloured wines of reasonable quality; in Portugal (such as Dão), it is best valued as a blending partner.
  • Vernatsch --- see Schiava.
  • Xres --- see Graciano.
  • Xynomavro (or Xinomavro) --- red grape varietal, practically exclusive to Greece; 'black' in style, it is used mainly for producing dark, sour-tannic reds, but can also be used (as a blending grape) to make some good sparkling wines, as well as rosé.
  • Zinfandel --- a 'noble' red grape varietal, (also known as 'Primitivo' in southern Italy), which has been made into a great success in California (though it was recently turned down as the 'state grape' of the The Golden State); also grown (albeit in much smaller quantities) in Chile, Australia, and South Africa; capable of being made into many different styles, but most often it is made into a dense red wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include tar, juicy fruit, and light coffee scents.

WHITE WINE GRAPES

Though perhaps slightly fewer in number than their red counterparts, the number of white grapes around the world is absolutely staggering. In fact, many enthusiasts would probably only be able to name a handful white grapes off the cuff --- and the bulk of them would most likely be of the 'international' persuasion (ex. Chardonnay).

HERE IS A LIST OF WHITE GRAPE VARIETALS:
  • Airén --- white grape varietal (the most widely planted grape in the world, in terms of total area); practically exclusive to Spain (specifically in Valdepeñas and La Mancha); notably acidic and somewhat neutral in flavour, it is used mainly in the production of cheap table wine.
  • Albariño --- white grape varietal, grown mainly on the Iberian peninsula (known as 'Alvarinho' in Portugal), particularly in Galacia; reliable white grape (probably the best known in Spain), used to make dry table wines (sometimes blended); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include critic-mellow scents and flavours, clean mouthfeel, and notable acidic content.
  • Aligoté --- white grape varietal, grown mainly in Burgundy, but can also be found (in very small amounts) in Moldova, Bulgaria, and even Niagara; not really capable of producing anything finer than a medium-quality white wine; nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include citric (or lemony) notes and 'musty' fruit.
  • Ansonica --- see Inzolia.
  • Arinto (or Pedernã) --- white grape varietal, practically exclusive to Portugal (particularly in Dão and Bairrada; in Vinho Verde, it is called 'Pedernã'); known for its high acidity, it is often blended; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include lemony notes and floral scents.
  • Arneis --- white grape varietal, originally from southern Piedmont (but can also be found in California and Australia); on the brink of extinction (because it is quite difficult to grow), it has been brought back to make soft wines with a nice perfume; carries notes of peaches and pears; it can also be found in blends.
  • Assyritiko --- white grape varietal, found practically exclusively in Greece (localized in Attica and the Aegean islands); notably hardy, Assyritiko makes for excellent dry table wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include light floral fragrances, gentle acidic notes, and good fruit.
  • Athiri--- white grape varietal, found throughout Greece, and is said to be extremely ancient; low-yielding and bright, it can be quite fruity, fresh, and elegant, with some very nice fruit flavours; lower in acidity, it can also be used as a blending grape with Assyritiko.
  • Carricante --- white grape varietal, found exclusively in Sicily, Italy (grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna); used mainly for blends, it produces very dry wines that have the potential for aging; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include citric notes and dried fruit.
  • Chardonnay --- a 'noble' white grape varietal; one of the most popular wine grapes in the world; grown (albeit in varying quantities) in practically every wine-producing nation in the world; rarely blended with other grape varietals (the exception being Australia); also an extremely important grape (either blended or unblended) in the making of sparkling wine, especially in Champagne, California, Australia, and South Africa; subject to criticism as of late for some producers' overuse of Chardonnay in barrel oak aging; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include butterscotch aromas, oak content, and mineral-to-tropical flavours.
  • Chasselas --- white grape varietal, most famously found in Switzerland (in Valais, it is called Fendant), but can also be found in many other places around the world (albeit in differing quantities), such as Germany (particularly Baden, where it is called Gutedel) and other parts of Europe, along with many places in the New World; good for light-style wines, notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include floral and citric notes.
  • Chenin Blanc (or Steen) --- a 'noble' white grape varietal (called 'Steen' in South Africa), yet arguably under-appreciated; grown (albeit in varying quantities) in various parts of the world, the most important being the Loire wingrowing region of France (especially in the Vouvray appellation), as well as California, South Africa, and New Zealand; in the Loire, Chenin Blanc produces some marvellous white wines that are capable of long-term aging; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include mellow fruit, creamy honeysuckle, and light, lemony-petrol notes.
  • Clairette (or Clairette blanc) --- white grape varietal, found (albeit in varying quantities) in Provence, the Rhône (where it is sometimes used in tiny amounts as a blend in Châteauneuf-du-Pape), and the Midi; it is also found in South Africa and Australia; carrying no really distinctive flavours, it is most often blended with Grenache Blanc and Ugni Blanc; however, in the Eastern Languedoc, it is beginning to be made into a more refreshing style of wine.
  • Cortese --- white grape varietal, found almost exclusively in Piedmont, Italy (but also grown in Lombardy in small amounts); used mainly for making well-structured dry table wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include crisp fruit and acidic notes.
  • Crouchen --- white grape varietal, originally from France, but now found mainly in Australia and South Africa (where it is called 'Clare Riesling' and 'Cape Riesling,' respectively); not at all related to the actual noble Riesling grape varietal, Crouchen is relatively neutral in character; it is most often blended for sake of adding some aromatic character.
  • Elbling --- white grape varietal, known since medieval - perhaps even Roman - times throughout Germany, and can still be found today in the upper Mosel, and even Luxembourg; high in acidity (and yields) and relatively neutral in flavour, it is best used for making sparkling wine (and nothing else!).
  • Fendant --- see Chasselas.
  • Fiano --- white grape varietal, grown mainly in southern Italy and Sicily; it is quite an old varietal, which was even cultivated by the Romans; capable of producing lovely dry whites for everyday drinking; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include flowery scents, light-minerally fruit, and small nutty notes.
  • Furmint --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, but hardly known to even the more knowledgeable wine enthusiasts; grown mainly in Hungary, where it is cultivated and blended with two other local grapes (Hárslevelu and Yellow Muscat) to make 'Tokaji' (a type of sweet wine, created from noble rot), as well as fine-quality (unblended) dry whites; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include sap-like scents and medium-fruit.
  • Garganega --- white grape varietal, found mainly in the Veneto winegrowing region of Italy, but also in Friuli and Umbria; extremely vigourous, it is used mainly for 'Soave' (which is usually blended with Trebbiano and/or Chardonnay); capable of producing very nice light, dry wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include straw, wild flowers, almond, and citric notes.
  • Gewürztraminer --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, which has become increasingly popular among true wine enthusiasts, as it is one of few grapes that goes excellently with a wide variety of Asian-derived dishes; grown at its finest in the Alsatian winegrowing region of France, as well as in Germany, Austria, New Zealand, some cooler parts of California, the Pacific Northwest, and even Niagara (Canada); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include spicy perfumes, lichen, floral notes, and medium-dense fruit.
  • Greco --- white grape varietal, grown mainly in Campania, Italy (introduced to Italy by the ancient Greeks, as the name would suggest); capable of producing very decent table wines; a dry grape, it is also noted for being unusually high in tannin, as well as being a teensy bit spicy.
  • Grüner Veltliner --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, mainly grown in Austria (but also in several Eastern European countries); in the past few years, it has made amazing strides in both quality and popularity among knowledgeable wine enthusiasts, and is now being used to make world-class dry white wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include teensy-spicy/minerally notes, lentils, and green fruit.
  • Gutedel --- see Chasselas.
  • Hárslevelu --- white grape varietal, second in importance to Furmint in making 'Tokaji' in Hungary (a type of sweet wine, created from noble rot); boasting good aroma and body, it makes for a good blending grape.
  • Inzolia (or Ansonica) --- white grape varietal, found mainly in Sicily (though there are some plantings in Tuscany, as well), where it is primarily used as part of the Marsala blend; low-yielding and boasting a lot of character, Inzolia can make excellent dessert wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include almonds and light-citric notes.
  • Loureira --- see Loureiro.
  • Loureiro --- white grape varietal, found in the northwest corner of the Iberian peninsula (most famously in Vinho Verde [Portugal] and Rías Baixas [Spain], where it is called 'Loureira'); high in acid and aromatics (and yields) it is most often blended with Albariño and Trajadura; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include bay leaves, apricots, and light lemon.
  • Macabeo --- see Viura.
  • Malagousia --- white grape varietal, found exclusively in Greece (especially in Macedonia, Attica, and the Peloponnese); brought back from the brink of extinction, it has the potential for producing very high-quality wines of good body and aromatics; also capable of working well with oak treatment.
  • Malvasia --- white (and red) grape varietal, cultivated mainly in Italy, but also grown in lesser quantities in Spain, Portugal, and even California; used to make both sweet wines and dry table wines (as a red grape, it is most often blended); capable of producing wines of very high quality; in sweet form, Malvasia can also age very well; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include notable fragrance and light fruit.
  • Marsanne --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, primarily cultivated in the (northern) Rhône winegrowing region of France, where it is usually blended with Roussanne; capable of producing very high-quality whites; also grown (albeit in varying quantities) in the Languedoc (southern France), Australia, and California; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include lively aromas, toasted nuts, and tropical-rich fruit; some remark that it can often have a somewhat 'oily' texture.
  • Mauzac --- white grape varietal, found almost exclusively in the western Languedoc winegrowing region of southern France (specifically in the Gaillac and Limoux appellations); in the latter, it is used to make world-class sparkling wine, though it is often blended with Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics (in sparkling form) generally include green apple skins and light mineral flavours.
  • Melon de Bourgogne --- see Muscadet.
  • Moscatel --- see Muscat.
  • Moschofilero --- white grape varietal, found virtually only in Greece (particularly on the plateau of Mantinia in the Peloponnese); a commercial success, Moschofilero is actually pink-skinned, and boasts notable floral-like aromatics (along with some teensy-spices); also used for sparkling and sweet wines, as well as rosé.
  • Muscadelle --- white grape varietal (unrelated to Muscat, though it sounds the same), most famously found in both Bordeaux (where it is used, albeit minimally, in making Sauternes and dry whites) and Victoria (where it is used to make some of the finest 'New World' fortified wine); it is also found in Southwest France (particularly in Monbazillac); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include floral and 'grapey' notes.
  • Muscadet (or Melon de Bourgogne) --- white grape varietal (unrelated to Muscat, though it sounds the same), grown almost exclusively in the Loire winegrowing region of France (most notably around the lovely little city of Nantes); originally from Burgundy (where it is named Melon de Bourgogne), Muscadet is best known for decent-quality dry wine, which, at its finest, goes through: (1) skin contact; (2) barrel fermentation; and (3) lees stirring; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include green apples, sea salt nuances, and musty-pebble-like notes.
  • Muscat (or Moscatel) --- a 'noble' white grape varietal (on the Iberian Peninsula, it is called Moscatel), with over 200 variations, yet often misunderstood by most who have ever heard of it; capable of producing a wide range of different high-quality white wines, from those that sparkle to those that are sweet; grown in most European wine-producing countries, as well as Australia and South Africa (where it is called Muskadel); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include delicate berries, pronounced golden-like aromas, and highly grapy fruit.
  • Muskadel --- see Muscat.
  • Palomino --- white grape varietal, most famously grown in Spain (specifically in Andalucía) for making Sherry; it is also found in South Africa, Australia, California, New Zealand, Cyprus, and Argentina; traditionally, it is fermented until it is completely dry, and is both low in sugar and acidity; it is also easily susceptible to oxidation, all which makes it highly suitable for making dry Sherry.
  • Parellada --- white grape varietal, grown virtually exclusively in the Catalonian winegrowing region of Spain, where it is blended (traditionally with Macabeo, and Xarel-lo) to make Spanish sparkling wine (or 'Cava,' as it is usually called); high-yielding, it adds freshness and lemony acidity to the blend, along with light floral notes.
  • Pedernã --- see Arinto.
  • Pedro Ximénez --- white grape varietal, used for blending to make Sherry in Jerez (Spain); normally, it produces sweet-style Sherry, but can also be used to make drier types; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include rich aromas and sticky-like fruit.
  • Petit Manseng --- white grape varietal, found in various parts of France (there is also some in California, Virginia, and Australia); small-berried and extremely low-yielding, it can be well-suited for making sweet wine, such as in Jura (France).
  • Pinot Blanc --- a 'noble' white grape varietal; most famously grown in the Alsatian winegrowing region of France, but also cultivated in Germany, Austria, and Eastern Europe (it is also showing promise in the Pacific Northwest); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include light-honeyed aromas, green apple notes, and soft mineral content.
  • Pinot Gris --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, grown under several different names in Europe; generally underutilized in most places where it is grown (the exceptions being Alsace, France and New Zealand), yet capable of producing some excellent dry wine; known as 'Pinot Grigio' in Italy, where it is mostly used to make boringly dry whites; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include pebbly notes and dry-mellow fruit.
  • Prosecco --- white grape varietal, grown in the Veneto winegrowing region of Italy, and used principally to make sparkling wine of the same name; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include delicate fruit flavours and light grassy notes.
  • Riesling --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, the origins of which are said to hail from the Rhine Valley in western Germany; grown (albeit in varying quantities) in practically every 'cool-climate' winegrowing region in the world, but reaches top form in Germany, Alsace (France), Austria, Washington State (USA), Clare Valley (Australia), Niagara (Canada), and New Zealand; rarely blended with other grape varietals; uncommonly capable (for a white grape) of producing wines with excellent aging potential; nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include crisp fruit, light tropical notes, and lemony-petrol.
  • Robola --- white grape varietal, found in many parts of Greece (ex. it is the most important grape on the island of Cephalonia); known for its citric aromas and crisp flavours, Robola can produce some very refreshing white wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics (in addition to those already mentioned) generally include floral notes and fresh-fruit flavours.
  • Roditis--- white grape varietal, found mainly in Greece (such as Patras and the northern Peloponnese); a late-ripener, it is not an easy grape to grow (mildew can often be a problem); yet, it is also high in acidity, and is capable of producing complex and intense wines (when the right clones are used); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include citric notes and almonds, as well as fresh fruit.
  • Roussanne --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, most importantly grown for blending purposes (usually with Marsanne) in the Rhône winegrowing region of France, especially as white Hermitage (a wine capable of ageing for many decades), but also produced (albeit in much smaller quantities) in the Midi (France), Australia, and California; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include elegant aromas and temperate fruit.
  • Sauvignon Blanc --- a 'noble' white grape varietal; one of the more popular wine grapes in the world (at least currently), grown in many wine-producing countries; commonly at its best in the Graves region of Bordeaux (France), the Loire (central France), as well as New Zealand, California, and Australia (it also performs well in South Africa and Chile); used as a secondary grape in the making of Sauternes; best when picked perfectly ripe by growers (according to Oz Clarke); nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include grassy flavours and scents, mineral nuances, and dry-tropical fruit.
  • Savatiano --- white grape varietal; the most widely-planted grape in Greece (it is the main varietal used in the making of Retsina); considered by many to be an unremarkable grape, it is fast-growing and carries very low levels of acidity; still, when cultivated properly, it can produce wines of agreeable roundness and texture; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include citric notes, as well as almonds and other nuts.
  • Sémillon --- a 'noble' white grape varietal; one of the most important blending grapes in the world for both good-quality dry whites and sweet wines; grown (on the whole) in only a handful of wine-producing countries, the most important being France (particularly in Bordeaux, where it is used to make some of the world's most famous sweet wines, such as Sauternes) and Australia (along with South Africa), where it is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to make dry whites; nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include ripe, mellow fruit, semi-sweet scents, and a little toastiness.
  • Steen --- see Chenin Blanc.
  • Sylvaner --- white grape varietal, primarily grown in Alsace, but also found in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland; more or less considered an unremarkable grape, Sylvaner is nonetheless capable of producing age-worthy wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include slightly-vegetal scents and light fruit.
  • Timorasso --- white grape varietal (one of the rarest grapes in Italy), found in southeastern Piedmont; very difficult to cultivate properly, but when done right it can make for a beautiful, larger-style wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include mineral notes and lots of fruit flavours.
  • Tocai Friulano (or Friulano) --- white grape varietal, found mainly in the Friuli winegrowing region of northeastern Italy (now increasingly called 'Friulano' so as not to be confused with Tokaji from Hungary); a high-quality grape (when cropped right), it can produce lovely, subtle wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include notes of apples, grass, and flowers.
  • Trajadura (or Treixadura) --- white grape varietal, found in northern Portugal and Galacia, Spain, where it is called 'Treixadura'; an early ripener, it is often blended with Loureiro and Albariño, offering citric notes and high acid to the blend.
  • Trebbiano --- white grape varietal; the most widely-grown white grape in Italy (known as 'Ugni Blanc' in France), but also found (albeit in far lesser quantities) in France (where it is called 'Ugni Blanc'), California, and Australia; considered by most wine experts and enthusiasts to be a dull grape that is best used for blending (or distilling); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include neutral aromas and flavours, as well as dry fruit.
  • Ugni Blanc --- see Trebbiano.
  • Verdelho --- white grape varietal, originally from Portugal (where it is still grown in small amounts), but now found primarily in Australia, where it has had quite a fair deal of success; ideal for producing a light, delicately-flavoured dry wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include docile perfumes and mellow-light fruit.
  • Verdicchio --- white grape varietal, found in the Marche winegrowing region of Italy; high in acidity and crispness, it is often blended with a little Trebbiano and Malvasia, which can allow it to age for a few years; unblended, it is best for early drinking with light food.
  • Verduzzo (Friuliano) --- white grape varietal, almost exclusive to the Fruili winegrowing regin of Italy, but can also be found in Veneto; an ancient vine, it is commonly used to make sweet wines of notable quality.
  • Verduzzo (Tevigiano) --- white grape varietal, found mostly in the Italian winegrowing regions of Fruili and Veneto; not to be confused with Verduzzo Friuliano (which, according to modern varietal scholars, is an entirely separate grape varietal), Verduzzo Trevigiano is used to make dry whites; high-yielding, the wines are often high in acidity and carry citric notes.
  • Vermentino --- white grape varietal (thought to have originated from the Iberian Peninsula), now grown primarily along the Ligurian-Tuscan coastline of Italy, as well as Sardinia (it is also found in very small quantities in Australia, as well as in southern France); a late-ripener, Vermentino can be used to make pleasantly soft, lightly-aromatic wines, which often contain notes of fresh herbs.
  • Viognier --- a 'noble' white grape varietal, which has gained extraordinarily in popularity in less than ten years; commonly used for blending in white wines (as well as red wines, in small amounts) throughout the Rhône winegrowing region of France (as well as other southern French winegrowing regions), but now also being grown (on its own) in California, Australia, Chile, and South Africa; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include light apricot-peach scents and waxy textures.
  • Viura (or Macabeo) --- white grape varietal, grown mainly in northern Spain, particularly in Rioja (it is also found in the Languedoc), where it is often blended with Malvasia and Garnacha Blanca (or Grenache Blanc), as well as with, on an increasing level, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay; high-yielding, it is also heavily used to make sparkling wine (especially Cava); notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include high oak character (from being aged so long in wood, though these days this has been reduced), aromatic freshness, and light fruit.

'HYBRID' WINE GRAPES

One ought not be overly alarmed if one has not heard of 'hybrid' wine grape varietals before. Put simply, hybrid grapes are those that have been created by splicing different types of grapes together.

HERE IS A LIST OF HYBRID GRAPE VARIETALS:
  • Baco Noir --- red hybrid grape varietal (a cross between Folle Blanche and an unknown North American varietal, created in 1894); it is found almost exclusively in the eastern United States (such as New York and Michigan) and southern Ontario; medium-to-full-bodied, and carrying lots of 'black fruit,' Baco Noir is best grown in cool-climate winegrowing regions.
  • Dornfelder --- red hybrid grape varietal (a cross between Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe); created in 1955, it is found primarily in the Pfalz winegrowing region of Germany (it is also found in various parts of North America and England); for the most part, Dornfelder makes for dark, approachable wines (it can also be somewhat sweet and spicy at times).
  • Müller-Thurgau --- white grape varietal (a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner, created in 1882), mainly grown in Germany (where it is second only to Riesling in production), but also cultivated (albeit in much lower quantities) in Austria, Switzerland, northern Italy, and even New Zealand (though winemakers there are smart enough to be getting rid of it); quality-wise, this grape is really only capable of producing (at best) medium-range wines; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include floral scents and musty notes.
  • Seyval Blanc --- white hybrid grape varietal (a cross between two Seibel hybrids, which, themselves, were developed by Albert Seibel, 1844-1936); mainly grown in England, where it is used to make sparkling wine; it can also be found in the Finger Lakes winegrowing region of New York state (and other eastern states), as well as even Nova Scotia (Canada); capable of producing surprisingly-good dry whites and great sparkling wine.
  • Vidal (or Vidal Blanc) --- white hybrid grape varietal (a cross between Ugni Blanc and Rayon d'Or); used mostly to make dessert wines (especially icewine) in Ontario and New York; ripening late, it boasts great acidic content and fresh fruit; dessert wines made from Vidal have the potential for exceptionally long aging time.
  • Zweigelt --- red hybrid grape varietal, grown mainly in Austria (a cross between Sankt Laurent and Blaufränkisch), but also found in Germany and Hungary; bred in 1922 by a doctor of the same name; not really capable of producing wines for aging; mostly used to make pleasant, everyday sipping wine; notable nose-and-mouth characteristics generally include raspy notes and light fruit (such as cherries).

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