Grape Variety Glossary

There are thousands of wine making grape varieties grown throughout the world. The varieties that are the most significant, to one degree or another, in the areas where they are cultivated are profiled over the following pages. 

A cross between grape varieties within one species is called a cross, whereas a cross between varieties from different species is called a hybrid. Cross the same grape varieties more than once and the odds are that the new strains produced will not be the same. Thus Sylvaner x Riesling is not only the parentage of the Rieslaner, but also the Scheurebe, two totally different grapes. It is also possible to cross a variety with itself and produce a different grape. In this glossary, the parentage of crosses and hybrids is always in italic. 

Within varietal limitations, intensive selection can produce a vine to suit specific conditions, such as to increase yield, resist certain diseases, or to thrive in a particular climate. Identical clones of this vine can then be replicated an infinite number of times by microbiogenetic techniques. Clones are named by number and initial. For instance, “Riesling clone 88Gm” is the 88th clone of the Riesling variety produced at Geisenheim (Gm), the German viticultural research station. A “localized” clone is a vine that has evolved naturally under specific conditions within a particular environment. These may be named first by grape variety and then by locality and referred to as subvarieties. However, the name of the original variety is often entirely forgotten with the passing of time, so that the variety acquires a new name altogether. 


Most white wines are made from “white” grapes, which actually range from green to amber-yellow. On the other hand, most red or rosé wines are made from “black” grapes, which vary from red to blue-black. White wine can also be made from most black grapes because, with only a few exceptions (categorized as teinturier, literally “dyer,” grapes) only the skin is colored, not the juice. But red wine can be made only from black grapes, because it is pigments in the skin, called anthocyanins, that give the wine its color. The acidity in the skin’s sap also affects the color of its wine: high acid levels gives a ruddy color, while the lower the acidity the more purple, and eventually violet, the wine becomes. 


Note Some pink-colored varieties, such as Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris, are included in this section because the wine they make is essentially white. 




A Rieslaner x Sylvaner cross developed and grown in Germany for its naturally high sugar level and early-ripening qualities.

This is a thin-skinned grape of unexceptional quality grown in Burgundy and Bulgaria. It makes tart wines of moderate alcoholic content, but in exceptionally hot years they can have good weight and richness.The variety’s best wines come from certain Burgundian villages, especially Bouzeron, where the quality may be improved by the addition of a little Chardonnay.

The finest of Savoie’s traditional varieties, this grape makes delightfully rich and fragrant wines.

The classic Vinho Verde grape, although it might not rank as a classic grape variety per se.

The Arinto is one of Portugal’s potentially excellent white grapes. Its use in the small district of Bucelas is to make a crisp, lemony wine that ages well.

Literally meaning “little rascal,” this Piedmontese grape was so named because of its erratic ripening. Once threatened by commercial extinction, this delicately aromatic variety is now extremely fashionable.

One of the better-quality indigenous varieties of Greece.

At home in Alsace, Luxembourg, and England, Auxerrois makes a fatter wine than Pinot Blanc, so suits cooler situations. Its musky richness has immediate appeal, but it is inclined to low acidity and blowsiness in hotter climates.

A (Riesling x Sylvaner) x Müller-Thurgau cross that is one of Germany’s more superior crosses.

A Dao grape, literally called “fly droppings,” Borrado des Moscas retains high natural acidity at high alcohol levels, making it well suited to white winemaking in hot areas.

A modest-quality variety in Austria and one which, as Ranina, produces the “Tiger’s Milk” wine of Slovenia.

The richest and fattest of Madeira’s four classic grape varieties.

Known as “Chard in Hell” to many a wine judge forced to taste its wines, Chardonel is a Seyval x Chardonnay cross made by Cornell University in 1953, but not released until 1990. So far the wines produced have been more bland than even the most anonymous Chardonnay.

This is the greatest nonaromatic dry white wine grape in the world, despite the proliferation of cheap, identikit Chardonnay wines that are churned out around the world. This classic variety is responsible for producing the greatest white Burgundies and is one of the three major grape types used in the production of Champagne.

Responsible for the best-forgotten Pouilly-sur-Loire wines (not to be confused with Pouilly-Blanc Fumé), this variety is at its modest best in Switzerland’s Valais (where it is known as the Fendant) and Alsace. Primarily a good grape for eating.

A variety that acquired its name from Mont-Chenin in the Touraine district in about the 15th century, it can be traced back to Anjou, around A.D. 845. The grape has a good acidity level, thin skin, and high natural sugar content, making it very suitable for either sparkling or sweet wines, although some dry wines, notably Savennières, are made from it.

A sugar-rich, intrinsically flabby grape best known for its many wines of southern France. It is the Muscat though, not the Clairette, which is chiefly responsible for the “Clairette de Die” in the Rhone.

This produces thin, acidic wine ideal for the distillation of Armagnac and Cognac. It has also adapted well to the hotter winelands of California and South Africa, where its high acidity is a positive attribute.

Widely cultivated, this variety usually, but incorrectly, has the tag of Riesling attached to it, such as Cape Riesling and Clare Riesling.

This American hybrid of uncertain parentage was developed in Frenchtown, New Jersey, and propagated in Delaware, Ohio, in the mid-19th century. Although grown in New York State and Brazil, it is far more popular in Japan. 

A Riesling x Sylvaner cross, the Ehrenfelser has turned out to be a cul-de-sac in British Columbia, Canada, where it remains the preserve of a few die-hards.

This variety was once held in highesteem in Germany and France. Themajor Mosel grape in the 19th century, it  is now mostly confined to the Ober-Mosel where its veryacid, neutral flavor makes it usefulfor German Sekt. In Alsace it was Knipperle and its former positionwas such that one of the grand cru Guebwiller slopes was named after it.

A Muscadelle x Riesling cross, this grape was developed for cultivation in California by a Professor Olmo of UC-Davis fame as the sister tohis Ruby Cabernet cross.

A Weissburgunder x Müller-Thurgau cross grown in Germany, where it produces a fruity wine with a distinctive light Muscat aroma.

Traditionally used for the distillation of Armagnac and Cognac, the Folle Blanche grape also produces the
Gros Plant wine of the Loire Valley.

A little of this Madeleine Angevine x Sylvaner cross is grown in Germany, where it produces goodquality grapes that are rich in sugar.

A Sylvaner x Pinot Gris cross that is grown in Germany and produces a full, neutral, Sylvaner-like wine.

This strong, distinctively flavored grape is the most important variety used to make Tokaji in Hungary.

The principal grape used in the production of Soave.

At its most clear-cut and varietally distinctive in  Alsace (where it is never spelled with an umlaut), this variety produces very aromatic wines that are naturally low in acidity. The Gewurztraminer’s famous spiciness is derived from terpenes, which are found in the grape’s skins. The grapes have to be ripe, otherwise the wine will just have a soft rose-petal character, and the wine must not be acid-adjusted or the spice will lack breadth and potential complexity.

A Sylvaner x Müller-Thurgau cross grown in Germany, where it yields grapes that are rich in sugar, but make rather neutral wines.

This is the white Grenache variant that is widely planted in France and Spain. It is an ancient Spanish variety with the potential to produce a good-quality, full-bodied wine.

This is the most important wine grape in Austria, where it produces fresh, well-balanced wines, with a light, fruity, sometimes slightly spicy, flavor. Top-quality Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau can have a penetrating pepperiness.

This Müller-Thurgau x Chasselas cross is grown in Germany and England. It produces grapes with intrinsically high sugar levels, but
makes rather neutral wines.

A Hungarian grape that is the second most important Tokaji variety. It produces a full, rich, and powerfully perfumed wine.

A Chasselas x Muscat Courtillier cross that is grown in Germany and England, and is capable of producing good-quality wine.

The workhorse grape of the Savoie, the Jacquère is subject to rot, has a neutral flavor and high acidity.

This is a synonym often used to distinguish a wine that is made from the true Riesling grape. Many people believe that the Riesling is at its classic best when grown in the Rheingau vineyards of Johannisberg, thus the synonym most probably evolved as a way of indicating that a wine contained Riesling grapes “as grown in Johannisberg.”

A Muller-Thurgau x Sylvaner cross that produces a good Sylvaner substitute in the Rheinhessen.

A Trollinger x Riesling cross that produces wines with a high natural sugar content and good acidity, but a very light aroma.

Flavorsome, naturally sugar-rich grape that is used in Gaillac.

This is a Spanish variety used to “lift” a sparkling Cava blend and give it freshness. Bearing the name of Viura, it is also responsible for the “newwave” of fresh, unoaked white Rioja.

This is a Precoce de Malingre x Madeleine Royale cross that is grown quite successfully in England, where it produces a characteristically light-bodied, aromatic wine.

The Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng are grown in southwestern France, and are well known mainly for producing the legendary
Jurancon Moelleux.

A Sylvaner x Rieslaner cross that is grown in Germany and is generally considered superior to the Sylvaner.

This grape makes fat, rich, full wines and is one of the two major varieties used to produce the rare white wines of Hermitage and

A late-ripening grape with good acidity, grown in southwestern France, Mauzac is flexible in the wines it produces, but is particularly suitable for sparkling wine.

This variety was transplanted from Burgundy to Nantais where it replaced less hardy vines after the terrible winter of 1709. Most famous for its production of Muscadet. When fully ripe, it makes very flabby wines, lacking in acidity, although curiously it can be successful in California’s warmer climes.

This Sylvaner x Pinot Blanc cross is widely grown in the Rheinpfalz and Rheinhessen of Germany. It has always been intriguing how such neutral parents could produce such a powerfully aromatic offspring, but now we know that the Traminer is one of Sylvaner’s parents, the answer is obviously in the genes. 

This variety was bred at Geisenheim in 1882 by Professor Hermann Muller, who hailed from the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland, and was named after him by August Dern in 1891. It was originally believed to be a Riesling x Sylvaner cross, but not one single plant has ever reverted to Sylvaner, and the closest resemblance to it is the Rabaner, a Riesling (clone 88Gm) x Riesling (clone 64Gm). This seems to confirm the theory that the Muller- Thurgau is, in fact, a self-pollinated Riesling seed. It is more prolific than the Riesling, has a typically flowery bouquet and good fruit, but lacks the Riesling’s characteristic sharpness of definition. Although
this variety has a justifiably important position in the production of cheap German Tafelwein, its cultivation in the classic Riesling vineyards of the Mosel does tend to devalue that great wine region. It is widely planted in English and New Zealand vineyards, although in both cases the acreage devoted to it has shrunk markedly since the 1990s.

A Riesling x Sylvaner cross, a small amount of this variety is grown in Germany. However, the area planted is declining because the
grapes need to be very ripe.

A singular variety that has nothing to do with the Muscat family, although it does have a musky aroma and there is, confusingly, a
South African synonym for the Muscat—the Muskadel. In Bordeaux, small quantities of this grape add a certain lingering “aftersmell” to some of the sweet wines, but the Muscadelle is at its sublime best in Australia, where it is called the Tokay and produces a rich and sweet “liqueur wine.”

A family name for numerous related varieties, subvarieties, and localized clones of the same variety, all of which have a distinctive musky aroma and a pronounced grapey flavor. The wines that are produced range from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, and fortified.

There are two versions of this variety—the Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains and the Muscat Rose a Petits Grains—and some vines that seem to produce a motley crop somewhere between the two. Where one is cultivated, the other is often intermingled or growing close by. The two greatest products of the Petits Grains are the dry wines of Alsace and the sweet and lightly fortified Muscat de Beaumes de Venise, although in the production of the former the variety is giving way to the Muscat Ottonel.

An extremely important grape in South Africa, where it makes mostly sweet, but some dry, wines. In France, it is responsible for the
fortified wine Muscat de Rivesaltes (a very tiny production of unfortified dry Muscat is also made in Rivesaltes), and the grape is also used for both wine and raisin production in California.

An East European variety which, because of its relative hardiness, is now in the process of replacing the Muscat à Petits Grains in Alsace.

This is a low-yielding Madeleine Angevine x Sylvaner cross grown in Germany, which produces grapes with a high sugar level.

A Sylvaner x Chasselas cross grown in Baden, Germany, its grapes have high sugar and acidity levels.

A grape once widely planted in southwestern France and popular in Bergerac, it is now grown more in Australia than in France. Its acidity makes it useful for sparkling wines.

Developed in 1970, this (Riesling x Sylvaner) x Muller-Thurgau cross is already widely grown in Germany because it ripens even earlier than the early-ripening Muller-Thurgau.

A Muller-Thurgau x Siegerrebe cross that is grown in both Germany and England, its aromatic grapes have naturally high sugar and make a pleasantly fragrant and spicy wine.

The classic sherry grape variety.

The major white grape variety of Catalonia, used for still wines and sparkling Cava, in which it imparts a distinctive aroma and is used to soften the firm Xarel-lo grape.

A Gewurztraminer x Muller- Thurgau cross, this grape can survive winter temperatures as low as -22°F (-30°C), and produces a
light, fragrant, and fruity wine, but in low yields.

A variety that is perhaps at its best in Alsace, where it is most successful, producing fruity, wellbalanced wines with good grip and alcohol content. Plantings of the true Pinot Blanc are gradually diminishing worldwide.

A variety undoubtedly at its best in Alsace, where it can produce succulent, rich, and complex wines of great quality, it has a spiciness seldom found elsewhere. When coupled with an acidity that is lower than that of Pinot Blanc, an absence of spicy varietal definition will invariably be due to high yields.This is why Pinot Grigio in northeastern Italy generally lacks the intensity of Alsace Pinot Gris, although both use the same clones.

The Jura’s famous grape with pink skin and pink juice can produce a fine and aromatic vin gris.

This grape is responsible for producing a great deal of very ordinary Italian sparkling wine.

This Riesling (clone 88Gm) x Riesling (clone 64Gm) cross has the dubious honor of being the variety that most resembles the

This is the main white port grape variety. It is also known as Raboda Ovelha, or “ewe’s tail.” 

The parents of this Luglienca Bianca x Gamay cross are a curious combination. Why anyone would consider crossing a table grape with the red wine grape of Beaujolais to create a German white wine variety is a mystery. Predictably it produces sugar-rich grapes and mild, Müller- Thurgau-like wines.

This Muller-Thurgau x Madeleine Angevine x Calabreser-Fröhlich cross is grown in Germany and England. Its sugar-rich grapes
produce a mild, delicate, somewhat neutral, Sylvaner-like wine.

This grape is used as a supporting variety in the making of Retsina, a use only eclipsed by its suitability for the distilling pot!

A Riesling x Sylvaner cross mainly grown in Franken, Germany, where it produces sugar-rich grapes and full-bodied, rather neutral wines.

The classic German grape produces a zesty, citrusy, intensely flavored wine of great minerally complexity, length, and longevity. When grown on certain soils, the terpenes in Riesling benefit from bottle-age and can, after several years, develop a bouquet reminiscent of gasoline. Alsace and Austria make most (not all) of the best dry Riesling. In Australia the wine from this grape has, by and large, a simplistic lime fruit character that is prone to going like gasoline in a relatively short while, but lacks the finesse and complexity of truly classic gasoline aromas.

A grape variety that is grown extensively in Russia, on a scale that would cover the vineyards of Champagne at least 10 times over.
The Soviets consider it to be a highquality wine grape; it is also grown in Bulgaria, China, California, and New York State.

Confined to the island of Cephalonia, this is a good-quality Greek grape.

An obscure variety that is confined to the Loire Valley, Romorantin can produce a delicate, attractive, and flowery wine if it is not overcropped.

One of two major varieties used to produce the rare white wines of Hermitage and Chateauneuf-du-Pape in France’s Rhone Valley,
this grape makes the finer, more delicate wines, while those mad from the Marsanne tend to be fatter and richer.

A minor grape variety that produces bland “stretching” wine and is grown in small quantities in the Chablis district. Its high acidity
could make it very useful in the production of sparkling wines.

This is a synonym for the Ugni Blanc in France and for the Semillon in Romania.

Sauvignon Blanc is at its best defined in New Zealand, particularly Marlborough, and is still a long way off achieving a similar level of quality and consistency in its home location of the Loire Valley. It is improving in Bordeaux, where it is also used in Sauternes and Barsac blends. Some exciting wines have begun to emerge from the Cape winelands, South Africa (ignoring those that are artificially flavored), but California remains hugely disappointing, even though its vines are the same Sauvignon Blanc clone as New Zealand.

This literally means “Sauvignon-like” and is, in fact, the Sauvignon Vert, which confusingly is no relation to the Sauvignon Blanc. According to Pierre Galet, this is the Tocai Friulano, although some find this hard to accept. The high-yielding Sauvignonasse is grown in Chile, where it used to masquerade as Sauvignon Blanc until the mid-1990s.

This grape is a nonaromatic Traminer, and it is responsible for the sherry-like vin jaune of the Jura, of which the best known is Chateau Chalon. The Savagnin Rose is the nonaromatic Traminer Rose (from which the highly aromatic Gewurztraminer evolved) and this grape grows in the village of Heiligenstein, Alsace, where it is known as the Klevener de Heiligenstein. 

This grape variety was used by the Greeks to make Retsina. A pure, unresinated Savatiano called Kanza is made in Attica, the
heartland of Retsina.

A Riesling x Sylvaner cross, this is one of the best of Germany’s new varieties. When ripe, it makes very good aromatic wines, but, if it is harvested too early, very herbaceous cat’s-pee.

A Spatburgunder x (Chasselas Rose x Muscat Hamburg) cross, this grape is grown in Germany and England. It produces sugarrich
grapes that make wine with good aromatic qualities but low acidity.

In Sauternes and Barsac, this is the grape susceptible to “noble rot.” Some say its aroma is reminiscent of lanolin, but as pure lanolin is virtually odorless, the comparison hardly conveys the Semillon’s distinctive bouquet. For dry wine, this grape is at its best in Australia, particularly the Hunter Valley, where its lime fruit takes to oak like a duck to water, whereas bottle-aged Semillon can be sublime after several decades.

A Gewurztraminer x Muller- Thurgau cross grown in Germany, where it is early-ripening and produces sugar-rich grapes that
are made into aromatic wines.

This classic grape of Madeira is reputed to be a distant relative of the Riesling. However, judging by its totally different leaf shape, this seems rather unlikely.

This Seibel 5656 x Seibel 4986 hybrid is the most successful of the many Seyve-Villard crosses. It is grown primarily in New York State and England, where it produces attractive wines.

This is a Madeleine Angevine x Gewurztraminer cross, a grape that is widely grown in Germany.

Originally from Austria, this variety is widely planted throughout Central Europe. It is prolific, early maturing, and yields the dry wines of Franken and Alsace. It is also widely believed to be the Zierfandler of Austria. Sylvaner has a tart, earthy, yet neutral flavor, which takes on a tomato-like richness in the bottle. This grape is now known to be the offspring of the Osterreichisch Weiss and Traminer.

Plantations of this Muscat d’Alexandrie x Grenache Gris cross rapidly increased in California in the mid-1990s, althouth it was
developed by Professor Olmo as long ago as 1940. The wine it makes is usually off-dry with a distinctly flowery-grapey Muscat aroma.

Various different clones of this lightly aromatic grape are found throughout South America, but particularly in Argentina. No relation to the Spanish Torrontes (which is a local synonym for the Monastrell Blanco) or Torrontes Riojano (which is a local synonym for the Malvoisie).

A JS 23–416 x Gewürztraminer hybrid that was developed by Cornell University and released in 1996, since when it has become
planted here and there throughout the Atlantic Northeast. Some American winemakers consider it superior to Gewurztraminer because of its significantly higher acidity, but this interferes with aromatics, which are more “spiky” than the Gewurztraminer’s classic broadspice bouquet. Notwithstanding this, there have been successes, even if they are few and far between. Generally perceived as a coolclimate grape, the Traminette’s high acidity does however raise the question of whether it might
not fare much better in the warmer climes of California.

This grape is now more widely grown in California and New Zealand than in its traditional home of the northern Jura, France.
It is yet another grape that has been erroneously tagged with the Riesling name in the New World but does not resemble that grape
in the slightest.

A variety that usually makes light, even thin, wines that have to be distilled, the Ugni Blanc is ideal for making Armagnac and
Cognac. There are a few exceptions, but most wines are light, fresh, and quaffing at their very best. 

A successful grape variety for making white wines in Australia, the Verdelho is possibly connected to the Verdello of Italy. Verdelho is best known, however, as a classic grape variety that is grown on Madeira for the production of the island’s fortified wine (a
Verdelho tinto also exists on the island).

As well as being used to make Verdicchio wine, this grape is also employed for blending.

This Seibel 6468 x Seibel 6905 hybrid is the widest cultivated of the Seyve-Villard crosses in France. Its slightly bitter, iron-rich wine cannot be compared with the attractive wine of the Seyve-Villard 5276 or Seyval Blanc grown in England.

This individual, shybearing variety was until relatively recently confined to a tiny part of the Rhone Valley, where it produced the famous wines of Condrieu and Chateau Grillet. Although this variety crept out to Australia in the 1970s, the real explosion did not occur until the 1990s in Languedoc-Roussillon and California. At its best, Viognier has a lush, aromatic quality, with distinctive peachy character, but it is all too often over-oaked.

No relation whatsoever to the true Riesling, this variety is grown throughout Europe, producing ordinary medium-dry t0 mediumsweet white wines.

A German variety with Gewurztraminer x Muller-Thurgau origins. XAREL-LO A Spanish grape variety vital to the sparkling Cava industry, Xarel-lo makes firm, alcoholic wines. 




An excellent indigenous Greek grape variety that is responsible for the rich and often oak-aged wines of Nemea. 

A Petit Bouschet x Grenache cross, this is a teinturier grape, with vivid, red juice. It was a favorite during Prohibition, when the rich color of its juice enabled bootleggers to stretch wines with water and sugar. Although the cultivation of this grape has increased by 42 percent since 1995, Alicante Bouschet is used primarily for port-style wines today, and is seldom seen as a varietal table wine. The secret of a good Alicante Bouschet table wine is in achieving the tannins, structure, and mouthfeel that are compatible with its naturally inkypurple color. Many moons ago, Angelo Papagni’s death-defying Alicante Bouschet was not to be missed, and Coturri and Jim Clendenen (with Il Poderedell’Olivos) have at times dabbled very successfully with this variety. Rainbow Ridge (“the first gay owned winery in the country”) has yet to demonstrate that its2001 is more than a flash in the
pan. Which leaves the organically minded Topolos as the only consistently high-quality producer of Alicante Bouschet nowadays. 

A prolific Italian variety grown in Piedmont, the Barbera makes light, fresh, fruity wines that are sometimes very good.

This is the classic port grape and is identified as the Trousseau, an ancient variety once widely cultivated in the Jura, France. 

This grape is making something of a minor revival in Texas, where it was widely grown in the 1830s to make a portlike wine. This is, in fact, Lenoir or Jacquez, and contrary to those who believe it to be a natural aestivalis-cinerea-vinifera hybrid, 100 percent vinifera. 

Cabernet Franc is grown throughout the world, but particularly in Bordeaux. It fares best as Bouchet in St-Emilion and at Pomerol, across the Dordogne River, where Cabernet Sauvignon is less well represented. Grown under neutral conditions, it might not be easy to distinguish any significant varietal differences between the two Cabernets, but, suited as they are to different situations, the Cabernet Franc tends to produce a slightly earthy style of wine that is very aromatic, but has less fine characteristics on the palate when compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon.

A grape of disputed origins. The French call this Pfeffer Cabernet (also called Fer Servadou), whereas the Americans have transposed the French name into Cabernet Pfeffer, which for Anglo-Saxons slips off the tongue easily and is more rational. There are various opinions as to its origins in the U.S., the most plausible being a 19th-century cross (but no one knows what with or who made the cross, and cannot be more precise than a 100-year-old span). Only two Cabernet Franc (interestingly, one of Carmenere’s synonyms is Grand Vidure, while one of CabernetFranc’s names is Gros Vidure). Sofar, the Carmenère produced in Franciacorta has more finesse than those in Chile, but overall there is a tendency to produce wines with a marked blackcurrant character that seldom develops complexity. 

The noblest variety of Bordeaux, the Cabernet Sauvignon, rich in color, aroma, and depth, is vitally important to the classic Medoc wines. Many of its classical traits have been transplanted as far afield as California, Chile, and Australia. The complexities that this grape can achieve transcend simplistic comparisons to cedar, blackcurrants, or violets. The Cabernet Sauvignon’s parents are now known to be Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.

A Spanish grape grown extensively in southern France and California.One of its synonyms—Mataro—is a common name for the Mourvedre, which also provides a well-colored wine, but one that is not quite as harsh. A Carignan Blanc and Gris also exist. 

An old bordelais variety that was almost extinct, until it was discovered in Chile posing as Merlot, and then in Franciacorta, where it was pretending to be U.S. sources of this variety exist today: the 100-year-old Wirz Family vineyard in Monterey’s Cienega Valley, California, and one of Casa Nuestra’s vineyards in Oakville, where the vines were planted in the 1940s. 

A minor grape variety of moderate quality that is still used in some areas of Burgundy, most notably for Bourgogne Irancy.

A prolific grape found mainly in southern Rhone and Languedoc- Roussillon vineyards, where it makes robust, well-colored wines.
It is best blended, as happens at Chateauneuf-du-Pape, for example. 

The widest-cultivated variety in North America outside of California, this variety has an extremely pronounced “foxy” flavor. 

Underrated variety found in northwestern Italy, where it is often overcropped, but can be delightful when yields are restricted. 

The mass-produced wine of this famous grape from Beaujolais has a tell-tale “pear-drop” aroma, indicative of its macération carbonique style of vinification. These wines should be drunk very young and fresh, although traditionally vinified wines from Beaujolais’ 10 classic crus can be aged like other red wines and, after 10 or 15 years, develop Pinot Noir traits. This may be because the grape is an ancient, natural clone of Pinot Noir. In France, Gamay Beaujolais is the synonym for true Gamay.

An important variety used in the production of Rioja, where a small amount lends richness and fruit to a blend, Graciano could be the next pure varietal to grab the headlines. 

The Grenache is grown in southern France, where it is partly responsible for the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, and many others. It is the mainstay of Rioja, makes port-style and light rose wines in California, and is also grown in South Africa. Its wines are rich, warm, and alcoholic, sometimes too much so, and require blending with other varieties. The true Grenache has nothing to do with the Grenache de Logroño of Spain, which is, in fact, the Tempranillo or Tinto de Rioja. Some sources say the Alicante (a synonym of the Grenache) is the Alicante Bouschet (or plain Bouschet in California), but this too is misleading.

A prolific grape with a high natural sugar content, it is important for the bulk production of Anjou rosé, but rarely interesting in terms of quality. 

Hungary’s most widely cultivated grape variety is grown throughout the Balkans. It was once thought to be the same as the Zinfandel, but this theory no longer persists. It makes pleasant, light, and fruity wine. 

An Italian variety, this is famous for its production of the medium-sweet, red, frothy wine of the same name in the Emilia-Romagna area. 

An Austrian variety (also called Blaufränkisch) that makes a relatively simple, light red wine. This grape is also grown in the
Atlantic Northeast, where it is more commonly referred to as Lemberger (a name that is also used elsewhere, erroneously, as
a synonym for the Gamay). 

This grape is traditionally used in Bordeaux blends in order to provide color and tannin. It is also grown in the Loire, Cahors, and Mediterranean regions, among many others, and was the grape responsible for the “black wine of Cahors”—a legendary name, if not
wine, in the 19th century. However, Cahors is now made from a blend of grapes and is an infinitely superior wine to its predecessor. 

A variety grown in Rioja, it is believed to be the Carignan, although it bears little resemblance to it, and produces wines of light,
yet rich, fruit and low alcohol. 

Merlot produces nicely colored wines, soft in fruit but capable of great richness. It is invaluable in Bordeaux, bringing fruity lusciousness and a velvet quality to wines that might otherwise be rather hard and austere. It is the chief grape in Chateau Petrus,
which is the top name in Pomerol. 

A late-ripening variety that performs best in the Abruzzi region of Italy, where its wines are very deep in color, and can either be full of soft, fat, luscious fruit, or made in a much firmer, more tannic, style. 

An underrated Spanish variety that is usually hidden in blends. However, it does have a full and distinctive flavor and could make
individual wines of some appeal.

This variety may have originally hailed from Friuli in northeastern Italy, where it is known as the Refosco. It is now planted as far
afield as the Savoie in France, parts of the U.S., including California, andin Switzerland, Italy, the Argentine,and Australia, where it is often animportant constituent of the fortified port-type wines. 

This excellent-quality grape has been used more than other lesser varieties in Chateauneuf-du-Pape blends in recent years. It is grown extensively throughout southern France, and, under the name of the Mataro, also in Spain. This is one of Australia’s widest-cultivated black grapes, but a declining force in southern California. 

Famous for its production of Barolo, this grape is also responsible, totally or in part, for the other splendid wines of Piedmont in Italy, such as Gattinara, Barbaresco, Carema, and Donnaz. It often needs to be softened by the addition of Bonarda grapes, which have the same role as Merlot grapes in Bordeaux. In fact, Merlot is used in Lombardy to soften Nebbiolo for the production of Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore wines, of which Sassella can be the most velvety of all. 

Also known as Cynthiana, although at one time Norton and Cynthiana were thought to be different varieties. Described accurately by some of its proponents as “The Real American Grape” because, unlike Zinfandel, Norton (or Cynthiana) is native to the U.S. It is pure Vitis aestivalis, not vinifera, but does not have any “foxy” character. Norton yields very small grapes with high pip ratio, necessitating déstelage to avoid excessively harsh tannins in the wine. Acidity is high, with an unusually high proportion of malic
acidity, and the wine has the unnerving ability seemingly to “stain” glass! That said, it is the only wild grape capable of producing fine wine. 

This is the most widely cultivated of Bulgaria’s indigenous black grape varieties. It makes light and fruity quaffing wine. 

A grape that has been used to good effect in Bordeaux because it is a late ripener, bringing acidity to the overall balance of a wine. Certain modern techniques of viticulture and vinification have rendered it less valuable, which might prove to be a pity, because it also produces a characterful, long-lived, and tannic wine when it is sufficiently ripe. 

An ancient cross between Syrah and Peloursin, the Petite Sirah seems more at home in California than its native France. 

This grape is best known for its supporting role in the production of Rose d’Anjou. 

A Pinot Noir x Cinsault cross developed in 1925, it occupies an important position in South African viticulture, where its rustic and high-toned wine is greatly appreciated. 

An important variety in Champagne, where vinifiedwhite gives more upfront appeal of fruit than the Pinot Noir when young, and is
therefore essential for earlydrinking Champagnes. Its characteristics are more immediate, but less fine and somewhat earthier than
those of the Pinot Noir. The Pinot Meunier is extensively cultivated in the Marne Valley area of Champagne, where its resistance to frost makes it the most suitable vine. Now cropping up all over the place, and can make a red wine very similar to Pinot Noir. 

This is one of the classic varieties of Champagne, but its greatest fame lies in Burgundy. In the right place, and under ideal climatic
conditions, the Pinot Noir can produce the richest, most velvet-smooth wines in the world. Depending on both climate and ripeness,its varietal flavor can range from cherries to strawberries. Great Pinot Noir is also made in California (notably Russian River and Santa Barbara), Oregon and Central Otago,New Zealand. 

The most widely planted black grape variety in Germany, it originates in the Danube district of Austria, not in Portugal as its name
suggests. It makes very ordinary and extremely light red wine, so it is often used in bad years to blend with the too acidic white wine. 

An Italian variety, secondary to the Corvina grape in terms of area planted, it is used in the production of Bardolino and Valpolicella. 

A Trollinger x Riesling cross, the parents seem an odd couple, but the offspring is surprisingly successful, producing some excellent rose wines. 

An American Carignan x Cabernet Sauvignon cross that originated in 1936, first fruited in 1940, and made its first wine in 1946. 

This is the principal variety used in Chianti. In a pure varietal form it can lack fruit and have a metallic finish. 

Because the name ofthis grape derived from Shiraz (which Australiahas adopted), the capital of Fars, the idea has sprung up that this
variety must have originated in Persia. We now know that it is pure French in its breeding, being the progeny of two minor varieties, the Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza. The Syrah makes fashionably darkcolored red wines in many countries. 

This grape originated from the Basque region, and has the potential to produce deeply colored, tannic wines of great longevity (although there are certain modern methods of vinification that often change the traditional character of Tannat wines). The variety’s best-knownwines are the attractive red Madiran and Irouleguy. A little Tannat wine is used for blending purposes in
and around the town of Cahors. 

This is the most important variety in Rioja, where it is traditional to blend the grapes, although many pure Tempranillo wines of excellent quality are made. It is capable of producing long-lived wines of some finesse and complexity. It is also an important variety in Argentina. 

This classic port grape is no relation of the Touriga Nacional. Its wine is less concentrated, but of fine quality. 

The finest port grape in the entire Douro, it produces fantastically rich and tannic wine, with masses of
fruit, and is capable of great longevity and complexity. 

A classic Madeira grape. 

Xyno means “acid” and “mavro” black, an indication of how dark and long-lived the wines of this excellent Greek variety can be. 

Once thought to be the only indigenous American Vitis vinifera grape, Zinfandel has now been positively identified by Isozyme “finger printing” as the Primitivo grape of southern Italy. However, the origins of this grape are Croatian, where it is known as the Crljenak Kastelanski. Depending on the vinification method used, Zinfandel can produce many different styles of wine, from rich and
dark to light and fruity or nouveau style. They can be dry or sweet; white, rose or red; dessert or sparkling. 

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