Of the many factors that determine the characteristics of a given wine, the grape varietal is perhaps the most important. Although there are over 10,000 different documented varietals within the species Vitis Vinifera (regarded as the "true" wine grapes), the grapes listed above are the ones most commonly cultivated for fine wines.

Each different grape has differing aroma and flavor characteristics when it is made into wine. But wines made from individual varietals will also vary in character depending on where in the world the grapes are grown: for example, vineyards in New World growing regions will produce wines with different flavors and aromas than vineyards from Old World growing regions, even when the wines are made from the exact same grape varietal.