Descriptions of Grapes

Red Varietals:

  • Alicante Bouschet is a cross of Grenache and Petit Bouschet; offers a dark red color and is used for blending with light red wines
  • Barbera produces a deep red, full bodied dry wine; while young, offers an intense aroma of fresh red and black berries; oaking provides increased complexity with hints of vanilla
  • Black Malvasia is used primarily as a blending grape with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese; valued for its dark color and aromatic qualities; adds a richness and hints of chocolate
  • Cabernet Franc blends well with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, yet stands well enough on its own; a lighter bodied wine offering rich notes of raspberries, black currants, and violets; less tannins than Cab Sav tending to produce a smoother mouthfeel.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon known for its deep flavor and aroma, full-bodied, bolder than Merlot; high tannins provide structure and ability to age well; stands well alone offering black cherry, cassis, pepper, oak; blends nicely with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec
  • Carignane predominately used in blending with Grenache, Syrah, Cab Sav, Cab Franc, Mourvedre and Merlot; noted for high alcohol, high tannins, and deep purple color
  • Carmenere has become Chile’s signature grape; prized for its intense color, meaty plumpness and complexity; rich in berry fruits and spice with smooth well rounded tannins; stands well alone and blends nicely with Cab Sav, Cab Franc and Merlot
  • Grenache used to make rosé wines and blends with Syrah and Carignane; spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate; high sugar levels, low acid and tannin; used in fortified wines such as Port
  • Malbec has become the star of Argentina; deep color, ample tannin for aging well, juicy plum-like flavor; stands alone or adds complexity to Cabs, Merlot, Gamay, Meritage
  • Merlot medium to dark red in color, fruity complexity highlighting cherry, plum and black currant flavors; low tannins; stands nicely alone yet blends well with Cab Sav, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot
  • Mourvedre is used to make both strong, dark red wine as well as rosés; produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol; taste varies greatly according to area but often is described as wild, gamey or earthy flavor with soft red fruit flavor; pairs especially well with the Grenache grape
  • Nebbiolo is one of the most important varieties in the Piedmont region and is used in Barolo and Barbaresco; strong tannin and high acidity; aromas of tar, camphor, roses with flavors of mint, plum and licorice
  • Petite Sirah produces a deep colored robust and peppery wine; plenty of tannin offers good aging; compared to Syrah, this wine is noticable more dark purple
  • Petit Verdot primarily added in small amounts to add tannin, color and flavor in blends
  • Pinotage produces deep red wines with smoky, earthy flavors and at times offers banana and tropical fruit; is often blended or made into sparkling or fortified wines
  • Pinot Noir is medium in color and light in body; rich, velvety and full of cherries, raspberries and strawberry flavors and aroma
  • Ruby Cabernet a cross between Cab Sav and Carignane; used in blending offering good color extraction and a pleasant cherry flavor
  • Sangiovese is the main component of Chianti; Brunello is a clone of Sangio ~ fresh fruity flavors of strawberry with a little spiciness; readily takes on oaky flavors when aged in barrels
  • Syrah (Shiraz) offers a more intense, full bodied wine with deep, nearly black color, rich and chewy, tends to be more spicy than fruity; is the only grape used to make Rhône wines; blends well with Cab Sav, Merlot, Grenache, Mourvedre and Viognier
  • Tempranillo produces a full bodied red wine that can be enjoyed young; aged in oak barrels this grape offers aroomas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, leather and vanilla; native to Spain, this is the main grape used in Rioja
  • Valdepena is a thick skinned grape offering deep red color and aromas of leather, tobacco, vanilla; used in blending or standing alone as a table wine
  • Zinfandel produces a robust, high alcohol red wine with light spicy flavor and berry-like aroma

 

White Varietals:

  • Albarino is noted for its distinctive aroma suggesting apricot and peach; unusually light and generally high in acidity with alcohol levels of 11.5 ~ 12.5%
  • Chardonnay versatile; creates full-bodied, moderately acidic dry still wines, sparkling crystal wines, as well as sweet late harvest wines; malolactic fermentation converts the harder malic acid into the softer, butteryness associated with Chardonnay; barrel aging offers smoke, vanilla and caramel
  • Chenin Blanc offers flavors of quince and apples; adds acidity in blends
  • French Colombard provides backbone to white blends; produces a crisp, dry, spicy wine
  • Gewurztraminer has high natural sugar and a flamboyant bouquet of lychees, roses, passion fruit and floral notes
  • Muscat Alexandria tend to be sweet with an earthy taste; not particularly aromatic; grown as table grapes and raisins but is used in wine making
  • Muscat Canelli produces outstanding sweet dessert wines and is the basis of Asti Spumante
  • Muscat Orange used in dessert wines; offers aroma of orange blossom and apricot
  • Pink Muscat generally sweet and floral with flavors of coriander, peach and orange
  • Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris) varies in color from light shades of pink to copper to a deep golden yellow depending on climate; matures early with high sugar levels offering high alcohol levels
  • Riesling offers high sugar content, high acid, a range of flavors; can be used for “ice” wines as well as non-dessert wines from dry to sweet; excellent in extended aging
  • Sauvignon Blanc light to medium-bodied, crisp and refreshing; displays a unique range of flavors from herbal to veggie, grassy to citrusy, best when chilled; component of Sauterne and Barsac dessert wines; barrel aging offers rounder melon notes
  • Thompson Seedless thogh primarily grown for raisin production; these grapes make a sweet table wine
  • Viognier medium-bodied, high acid, bright color, rich texture, highly aromatic, flavors of peach and apricot, best when young; aging allows the fruit and aromatic strength to fade
  • White Malvasia is used in table wine, dessert wines, fortified wines and blends well with others; as a dry wine this grape offers peach with aromas of musk and almonds and good acidity; a nutty character comes across in a sweet version