Consider this reassuring fact: Most of the world’s wines are produced from no more than a handful of different grape varieties. A little knowledge will give you instant expertise! Below are listed some of the most common types of wine.

Red grapes:

Cabernet Sauvignon – Arguably the king of red grapes, it has an intense blackcurrant flavour.

Gamay – The Beaujolais grape produces light-styled cherry and raspberry-flavoured wines.

Grenache – Produces velvety-ripe, fruity wines, especially rosés, famous as part of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend.

Merlot – A fashionable grape with soft, black cherry and blackcurranty flavours, often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.

Pinot Noir – Good young Pinots are light, silky and fruity. Mature Pinots often have an intense aroma of game and truffles. Occasionally, Pinots are unreliable and insipid.

Sangiovese – The Chianti grape produces light, attractive, everyday wines with herby, fruity flavours.

Syrah/Shiraz – A velvety grape that produces rich, full-bodied wines with fruity, spicy overtones.

Tempranillo – Makes stylish wines with a characteristic strawberry flavour.

Zinfandel – Also known as Primitivo, California’s speciality grape is extremely adaptable and has a distinctive taste of ripe-berried fruits.

White grapes:

Chardonnay – The perfect introduction to white wine. Styles vary from light and fresh, to heavily-oaked, buttery, tropical-fruit-flavoured wines.

Chenin Blanc – Used for a range of wines including dry and sharp, sparkling, medium and extra-sweet wines. Mature examples have a nutty, honeyed flavour.

Gewürztraminer – Dry or sweet, with an intensely aromatic spiciness. Alsace produces some quality Gewürztraminers.

Muscat – The wine actually smells of the grape itself. Muscats vary from rich, sweet and fortified to light, floral and dry.

Riesling – Rieslings range from dry, light and apple crisp to rich, sweet and honey flavoured. Beware of cheaper, sweeter Rieslings.

Sauvignon Blanc – Also known as Fumé Blanc, it has a delightful fresh, tangy style with distinctive flavours of gooseberries, elderflower and asparagus.

Sémillon – Ranges from dry, light lemon-flavoured to sweet wines with aromas of barley sugar and peaches.

Viognier – Almost unheard of until recent years, Viognier is becoming increasingly fashionable. It produces dry wines with a rich apricot aroma.

Want to learn more about grapes and wine? Visit: The Wine Glossary.

About Grapes

Grapes are rich in potassium, vitamin c, tannins (believed to protect against viruses and tumors), resveratrol (which appears to combat the effects of bad cholesterol), and caffeic acid (to protect against cancer), among many other antioxidants. So, technically speaking, the world is a better place because of grapes. But it goes further than that. On a sensory level, grapes provide us with sweet muscadine jelly for homemade buttermilk biscuits; pale-green, ruby-red, or midnight-purple clusters for the artist’s still life; and Chardonnay, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, port, Champagne, sherry, and vermouth for delicious consumption. Grapes offer well more than antioxidants. They provide plump bites of sweet juice that squirt a fountain of aphrodisiacal power and grape flavor into your mouth. Savor your grapes. Appreciate them well.

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