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There are thousands of different types of wines out there to choose from. Let this Overview Of Wine Grapes and The Regions Where They Grow guide you on the varietals and regions.
An Overview Of Wine Grapes and The Regions Where They Grow
Grapes of all sizes and colors are harvested around the globe for the sole purpose of making wine. Most countries have cultivated their own signature grapes. According to wine expert Steve de Long there are approximately 10,000 distinct wine varieties.
Even with such massive competition, certain grapes stand out for making the world’s best known or best-loved wines. The list below is a sampling of wines that are unique in color, flavor, and taste. Even the same grape creates different flavored wines depending upon the soil content and climate, including the amount of sun and rain usual to the region.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are some of the giants in the winemaking world. They produce big, robust wines that can age without spoiling. In southern France, a serendipitous crossing occurred between a Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Ever since that time, back in the seventeenth century, Cabernet Sauvignon has been captivating the hearts and palates of wine lovers everywhere. Besides France, vintners have had success growing this grape in both California and Chile. Some people say it tastes like blackcurrants, vanilla, and coffee; others think oak, mint, cedar, or chocolate. A rich, gamey brown edged Cab is sometimes referred to as a Barnyard Cabernet.
Sophistication, not strength, is the Pinot Noir’s claim to fame. This elegant grape whispers its extraordinary flavors but is sensuous, silky, and slyly scrumptious. Another wine that is known to have a variety of flavors depending upon its age, it can display a youngberry and cherry flavor until it matures. Once matured, the wine becomes leathery, earthy, and pleasantly gamy—Pinot Noir’s grown in France, California, Oregon, and New Zealand.
A native of California, Zinfandel is the epitome of the state: big, lovable, spicy, whimsical, and very easy to enjoy. The Zinfandel grape originally came from Croatia, yet this wine is often called America’s sweetheart. This is not a pink wine, that wine is White Zinfandel and is often too sweet for most palates. This wine is blood red and tough enough to complete with prime rib and horseradish sauce.
Merlot was royally mocked in the 2004 movie Sideways for being weak and light, yet many wine enthusiasts say it is a regal, gentle and lush. Also described as mellow and smooth, Merlot can taste like chocolate, plums, peppers or spices. Merlot grapes are found around the world. France, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, California, Washington, and British Columbia are some of the countries that make Merlot wines.
Syrah or Shiraz
If you are in Australia, call this grape Shiraz. Otherwise, it is known as Syrah. Full-bodied and deep in flavor, Syrah has eclectic flavors that range from leather to pepper, smoke to blackberry, and from mint to chocolate. For character and layers of flavor, this grape does not disappoint. Adaptable to cool temperatures, these grapes grow well in northern California and France.
Sauvignon Blanc is an outstanding French wine that is also being made in California, Chile, Italy, and New Zealand. This wine has more potential flavors than most as its flavor is often layered with many pungent, sweet, and metallic notes. It can be grassy or floral; have hints of currant or berries. It can surprise the palate with its zest and diverse undertones such as peas, asparagus, and green beans or mango, grapefruit, and passion fruit. These grapes flourish in parts of France, California, Chile, Italy, and other regions.
Chardonnay flavors range from light, floral, and tart to deep, woody, and creamy with tones of melon, hazelnut, butter, pineapple, and citrus. Chardonnay grapes thrive in France, Australia, South Africa, South America, New Zealand, and the United States, a great white for people who love reds.
German winemakers use this variety to make wines that go from desert dry to dessert sweet. Australia is perfecting their Rieslings with a lime undertone while Germany’s Rieslings vary in flavor from region to region. You either love this wine, or you hate it.
In France, this popular grape is known as Pinot Gris; In Italy, this grape is called Pinot Grigio. The Italian version is a crisp, dry, and very drinkable wine while the French and American wines are heavier, spicier and contain more complex favors, including plum and smoke.
This guide is simply an introduction to a few of the popular types of wines, wine grapes and the regions where the grapes come from. I created the guide to help you get a basic understanding of the wines.
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