Grape Varietals

Of the many factors that determine the characteristics of a given wine, the grape variety 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 on this page are the ones most commonly cultivated for fine wines.

Each grape varietal 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. Grapes from France's Rhône Valley, for example, will typically not taste the same as Italy's Piedmont wine region. Thus, Italian wine will have a distinct taste that differentiates it from French wine. Halfway across the world in North America, California wine (such as the grapes used to make Napa valley wine) will have a completely different and distinctive taste.

There are various types of grapes that are used to make our favorite wines. Such as the Sauvignon blanc grape, a green-skinned grape that hails from the Bourdeaux region of France. Another example is the chardonnay grape, used to make one of the most recognized and glamorous wines in the world. Other grape varieties include the pinot gris (white varietal) the ugni blanc (one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world), the petit verdot (a variety of red wine grape), the pinot meunier (a variety of black wine grape used for making Champagne), amongst others.

It would behoove all wine lovers to learn about the various types of grapes that make up their varietal wines. From dry whites to sparkling wines to dessert wines, grape types play a vital role.

Use the links below to find top-rated wines for each of the varietals and learn about what makes each varietal unique.

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