WHITE GRAPE VARIETALS
Grapes in the white category are grapes with low colour pigment in the skin. The colour of the skin varies from green to a pale yellow, but since the process of making white wine predicts the removal of all vegetal grape content, the juice is the only part of the grape fermenting, and you will end up with a nearly colourless wine – a white wine.
SAUVIGNON BLANC - WHITE
Popular grape variety, making aromatic fully flavoured wines. It has a distinct aroma of gooseberries, herbs and pears. In good examples expect refreshing vibrant wines with a full bodied feel. The aromas varies with the terroir, fresh and green with mineral notes in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé in Loire to vibrant with tropical notes in warmer climates like California. Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand have gained popularity since they often combines these two impressions. This is a perfect wine for dishes with green vegetables like salads, dishes with herbs or just for a pleasurable drinking experience. Choose a Sauvignon Blanc, and you can’t go wrong.
CHARDONNAY - WHITE
Chardonnay is the world’s most popular grape for quality white wines. It’s planted world-wide and some of the planets absolutely greatest wines are made from this grape. In good chardonnay wines you should get a rich wine with a full feel on the palate, medium fruitiness and often oak flavours – as it often is matured on oak barrels. Bourgogne uses Chardonnay to produce some of the finest white wines in the world, and this style of chardonnay is for many winemakers in the New World the reference on quality Chardonnay. Good chardonnays are versatile with food and combines well with tasty dishes of both fish and lighter meats.
RIESLING - WHITE
A very noble grape known to ripen quite late, so only the best vineyards will do – if you are in a cool climate zone. And, it is so the Riesling makes the most interesting and best tasting wines in a cooler climate, some of the very finest white wines of the word are found in Germany. The best Rieslings will always have a pronounced acidity, especially from cooler climate. The aromas will vary from green apples and fresh lemony citrus fruits to mellow nectary honey notes. When mature it can develop a distinct petroleum note, commonly regarded a sign of high quality. The Riesling marries excellent with the Botrytis rot, commonly known as noble rot. It is a fungus perforating the skins so the water content evaporates, and the juice in the grapes concentrates into a very sweet tasteful juice. When fermented these wines are some of the finest sweet wines available, given the high levels of sugar and acidity. Rieslings also ages very well, so if you get the chance to taste an old one, indulge yourself.
PINOT GRIS - WHITE
A grape growing rapidly in popularity, with a good reason. Delicious wines with a grapy character, refreshing yet still rich in taste. Excellent wine for just drinking and enjoying without food. Match it with dishes of white fish, shellfish and soups. Some of the richer wines of this grape found inAlsace. If you get one fromItaly, expect a fruity and delicios wine.
MACABEO - WHITE
Also known as Viura inSpain. Produces aromatic, fruity, light wines with good freshness. Mostly blended with other grapes as Chardonnay and Malvasia to produce richer and more tasty wines.
MALVASIA - WHITE
Common grape used throughout the Mediterranean, but closest linked toItaly. An ancient grape, dating back to the Egyptians. Grape of good quality producing fruity and rich wines, often with some residual sugar. Also known as Malmsey inMadeira.
TREBBIANO - WHITE
The big white grape inItaly. Known inFranceas Ugni Blanc – and as the main grape inCognac. As its best makes thirst quenching, refreshing and fruity wines with great appeal. Good to match with lighter dishes, or just drink without food.
RED GRAPE VARIETALS
Red wines are made from grapes with a higher level of color pigment in the skin, and the grapes vary from pale red to almost black. As a general rule of thumb, the thicker and darker the skin of the grape, the stronger coloured wine you will get. When making red wine it is the whole berry that ferments, so the skin and seeds are all part of the fermentation. This secures the extraction of the colour in to the juice. In the process tannins are also extracted, as the seeds and skin also are rich on them. That is why it is no tannins in white wine – only in red.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON - RED
One of the absolute greatest red grapes of the world. Rich, powerful with distinct aromas of blackcurrant and dark fruits. Some of the greatest reds are made from this grape like the redBordeaux. Cabernet Sauvignon are always appealing with smooth fruitiness and moderate dryness. Works very well with all kind of food, especially grilled meats and richer dishes. You can almost never go wrong choosing a Cabernet.
PINOT NOIR - RED
Pinot Noir is the Burgundy grape. It is a notorious difficult grape to get right, so only the best vineyards will get this noble grape to shine. The grape reflects the terroir well and will appear in different styles depending on the climate and the soils. A wine from Pinot Noir will give in most cases aromas of red fruits like cherries, raspberry and strawberry, fine light tannins and a smooth elegant fruitiness with a good acidity. In general such a wine will feel medium to full bodied, but not rich and big in any way. In general you will find the more smooth styles coming from California, Oregon, New Zealand and Chile. The French Pinots are in general more structured and a bit firmer, especially the more reasonably priced ones.
CABERNET FRANC - RED
A grape most commonly used in Bordeaux and Loire Valley, but has gained popularity in Italy, Australia and California. The grape tends to mature more easily than Cabernet Sauvignon, and is used together with Merlot in the east-bank Bordeaux from Saint-Emilion and such. It gives aromas such as raspberries, black currants and often a note of green bell peppers to the wine. It is a bit smoother on the palate than the Cabernet Sauvignon.
MERLOT - RED
A very popular grape in Bordeaux and in Napa Valley, and are rapidly being planted in more and more vineyards throughout the world. It’s important in Argentina, Chile and Australia as well as South Africa and New Zealand. In Europe you will be able to find som really nice Merlots from Spain and Italy too. The grape makes full bodied mellow wines with a rich mouth feel. The aromas are often those of plums, dark cherries, blackberries and spicy notes of mushrooms and leather.
CARIGNAN / MAZUELO - RED
One of the biggest grape varietal in the world, unfortunately not because of quality but more for it’s work horse abilities. It can produce a high yield of some quality, and is mostly used as the base of wines with Syrah or Grenache blended in for taste and quality. Also named Mazuelo inSpain.
SYRAH / SHIRAZ - RED
One of the world’s oldest grape – dating back to pre Egyptian time. It’s named Shiraz in non-European countries and Shiraz offers smooth rich dark wines with lot’s of fruitiness of dark berries and spices. Excellent with barbequed foods, try it with dishes of game and richer roasts and you won’t go wrong.
CINSAULT - RED
This grape is known for its blending capacities in wines from the Rhone valley inFrance. It gives body and richness to blends, and is not used often on its own. Needs strong crop control to keep yields down in order to get quality wine of Cinsault.
GRENACHE / GARNACHA - RED
The work horse grape of the South of France and is constantly growing in other areas like Spain, Australia and California. Makes great tasting wines, mellow and full of dark red fruits combined with herbal and spicy notes. In some areas it is capable of making really strong intense rich wines always with a round finish and smooth tannins. The grape makes wines with aromas of dark berries, spices and can be high in alcohol. Since it is lacking some structure, it is often blended with other grapes to add tannins or acidity. Perfect for your roasted leg of lamb and meat stews.
MOUVEDRE / MONASTRELL - RED
Commonly used varietal in the south ofFranceandSpain. Most famous as the base for the tasty red wines of Bandol. Brings structure and fruitiness to the blends when used.
NEBBIOLO - RED
One of the worlds greatest red wine grapes. Makes the best wines in the cool north ofItalyat the foothills of theAlps. Expect powerful wines, yet elegant, with a distinctive mouth drying taste from the high level of tannins. It is excellent with rich dishes of game and beef – especially if there are creamy sauces involved. Best examples found in Barolo and Barbaresco – they are expensive wines but great for the special occasion.
SANGIOVESE - RED
The Tuscan king of grapes. Not exactly a powerhouse red grape, but more refined and elegant with characteristics of black cherries and a delicious sweet /sour taste. The wines of Sangiovese are well suited to match with dishes of white meats and grilled fish, lamb chops and pasta. Predominant grape in the excellent wines from Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
TEMPRANILLO - RED
Spain’s own quality grape. Tempranillo are hugely popular inSpain, producing a wide variety of wines. All from rich intense reds from Ribera del Duero, via delicious and elegant Riojas to lighter and fruity Navarras. It also produces very tasty rosé wines packed with aromas of sweet red fruits. It’s not unusual to compare the style of the Tempranillo with the silky smooth Pinot Noir of Burgundy. Choosing a Tempranillo gets you a full bodied, smooth red with a deliciously sweet strawberry flavour.
GRACIANO - RED
Grape mostly grown in Rioja. One of the classic grapes in the Rioja blend. Has deep red colour, rich aroma, good structure and ages well. Unfortunately it is loosing territory to the more popular grapes.
MALVASIA NERA - RED
Mostly used as a blending grape, contributing with dark colour and aromatic quality. One of the classic grapes in Chianti, now being replaced with the more popular Cabernet Sauvignon.
MALBEC - RED
Malbec is the Argentinian grape these days. As the Malbec lost grounds in France to other varetials, it became hugely popular in Argentina. And this for a very good reason. The Malbec produce some stunning wines in this terroir and its reputation has resulted in increased plantings in the New World. Today you will find good quality wines from Malbec in USA, Chile, Australia and Cahors in France. The general impression of a Malbec wine is rich, fullbodied with dark aromas of blackberries, tobacco, violets and it has often defined tannins on the palate. In Argentina the Malbec tends to be softer and more velvety than the French Malbecs.
PETIT VERDOT - RED
A fairly uncommon grape predominantly used in Bordeaux blends, both in Bordeaux and in other areas like Napa Valley. The grape ripens very late and will add tannins, colour and aromas to the blend. It gives aromas of violets and leather to the blend.
GAMAY - RED
This is the Beaujolais grape. It’s a grape being less difficult than Pinot Noir to get right and has often a high level of acidity. In Beaujolais they use a method of carbonic maceration (closed tank maceration) as part of the fermentation process, and as a result the wines are softer and less acidic than if fermented traditionally. A good Beaujolais is smooth, fruity with lots of delicious raspberries and strawberries. With a low tannin level this is a wine loved by people that often gets head aches when drinking red wine.
PINOT MENUIER - RED
Champagne grape. It is mostly grown in Vallee de la Marne and is the workhorse in Champagne. Since it ripens more easily than the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it contributes with a higher alcohol level to the blend, especially in difficult vintages. Sadly the wine made from Pinot Menuier does not age well, the grape is mostly used in Champagne blends designed to be consumed fairly young. It is not used in the prestige cuvees – as these are composed of grapes from the best villages. It is also grown in California, Australia and in Germany. The wine from Pinot Menuier is fresh fruity with some notes of red fruits. When aged it will give aromas of bread crust and spices.