White Grape Varieties
Chardonnay – This is the world’s most widely planted white wine variety. It originates from Burgundy. It can be made in a Wooded (oaked) Style or an unwooded style. Chardonnay wines tend to be medium to full bodied, so they are well suited to Roast Chicken, White meats with cream based sauces, and rich seafood dishes.
Riesling – This variety originated in Germany, and that country still has the most vineyard areas devoted to it. The reputation of Riesling suffered greatly in the 1960s, 70s and 80s as being marketed as a cheap sweet wine.
Semillon – This variety is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc. It is the most important white wine variety in Bordeaux for sweet wines such as Sauternes and Barsac. Semillon originates from France. Varietal Semillon wines are sometimes oaked, but lighter unoaked wines are probably more popular these days.
Verdelho – This variety probably oringinated on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where it was used to make the eponymous fortified wine. By far the majority of the world’s Verdelho is grown in Australia.
Viognier – The Voignier variety has an interesting history. Until about 50 years ago, it was on the brink of extinction. It is sometimes in Australia co fermented with Shiraz to make a Shiraz Viognier.
Pinot Gris/ Grigio – This is an increasingly popular variety with two names and two identities. It is, in fact, not a variety but a mutation of Pinot Noir. Pinot Gris is French and Pinot Grigio is Italian both meaning Grey. This variety originates from France.
Red Grape Varieties
Pinot Noir – This grape variety originated from France. The finest, and most expensive, expressions of this variety are found in red wines of Burgundy. Pinot Noir is also one of the Favoured trinity to make Champagne.
Tempranillo – Tempranillo wines are often classed according to their age and oak treatment. Joven styles are unoaked and crafted to be consumed young. Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva classes must spend increasing time in oak, and are bottle aged for defined periods before being sold. Tempranillo originates from Spain, which grows about 90% of the worlds plantings.
Shiraz – Shiraz originates from the Northern Rhone region of France. Shiraz is most often associated with Australia, where it is the most commonly grown Variety. It is often blended with other varieties, for example with Grenache and Mourvedre in the classic GSM blend.
Grenache – Its Spanish origin suggests that Grenacha is probably the more correct name. In France, Grenache is used extensively throughout the South. It is a major component of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape DOCG.
Merlot – Merlot is grown throughout the wine world, except in the coolest climates, it is the most commonly planted variety in France. Although a large proportion of the Merlot grapes find their way into blends, mostly with Cabernet Sauvignon, there are plenty of varietal examples around.
Malbec – Malbec originated in the Cahors region of Southwestern France, where it is called Cot. It is a minor component of some Bordeaux blends. Most famously, Malbec is the leading red wine variety of Argentina.
Cabernet Franc – This variety lives in the shadows of Cabernet Sauvignon, its celebrity offspring. Cabernet Franc is now grown in most wine regions throughout the world. It is most used in blends.
Cabernet Sauvignon – Cabernet Sauvignon originated in Bordeaux. It is often used a varietal or in blends with one or more of the other so-called Bordeaux varieties.
Saperavi – Saperavi is a red wine grape variety that is a native of Georgia in the former Soviet Union. It is the most popular grape variety planted in many of the wine-producing republics. Saperavi is also used to make semi-sweet wines and port-style fortified wines.