- Cabernet Sauvignon is a black grape variety that produces deep-colored wines that have a lot of tannin and acidity, as well as strong aromas. Typical flavors from this wine include black fruits (blackcurrant, black cherry), which are often accompanied by vegetal notes (bell pepper, mint, cedar). Premium Cabernet Sauvignons are often aged in oak, softening its natural tannins and adding oaky flavors (smoke, vanilla, coffee). Cabernet Sauvignon grapes need a moderate to hot climate to grow and ripen which is why much of this wine is made in regions such as Bordeaux, Chile, Argentina, California, Australia and New Zealand. The wines from these hot climate areas are full-bodied, with soft tannins, feature a black cherry fruit flavor and have a less herbaceous taste, making them some of the world's most complex and long-lived red wines.
- Chardonnay is a special white grape variety that can make wines in regions ranging from cool Chablis to hot California climates. In the cooler regions, the flavor that is produced is more fruity, with flavors like apple, pear and citrus with a hint of cucumber. In moderate climate regions the wines may taste of peach with citrus notes and hints of melon, which is a bit similar to the wine produced in the warmer regions with more of a tropical fruit note. Chardonnay wines are full-bodied with a weighty, creamy texture displaying a honeyed nut, savory complexity.
- Malbec most commonly known as an Argentinian grape varietal originated in Bordeaux. It is found predominantly in the Southwestern region of France. Malbec creates full bodied wines with tannins which gives this varietal great potential for aging. The premium region of Argentina for Malbec is Mendoza. The grape is often times blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or both.
- Merlot is also of a black grape variety. It is used to create wines that are less aromatic, have less intense flavors and have lighter tannins and acidity than the Cabernet Sauvignon, although Merlot generally has more body and higher alcohol. Flavors are typically categorized into one of two groups, depending on how ripe the grapes are. The more common international style, made from grapes grown in hotter climates, has a black fruit character (blackberry, black plum, black cherry), full body, medium to low acidity, high alcohol and medium levels of gentle tannins. Some super-ripe versions feature fruitcake and chocolate-like flavors. The less common, but more elegant style of wine, produced from grapes grown in moderate or cooler climates, has a red fruit character (strawberry, red berry, plum), some vegetal notes (cedar), and a little more tannin and acidity. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, the best Merlot wines are often aged in oak, gaining spicy and oaky flavors (vanilla, coffee).
- Although Bordeaux is the classic home for these Merlot grape varieties, it is also popular in Chile, Argentina, California, Australia and New Zealand.
- Pinot Gris, also known as Pinot Grigio in Italian, vary dependently on where they are grown. Pinot Gris styles range from medium to full bodied wines to light, fruity light bodied types. This grape does well in many areas of the world. In Alsace Pinot Gris tends to be more spicy in comparison to other regions, medium to full in body and will display slight floral notes and aromas. German Pinot Gris pride themselves on the balance in sweetness and acidity and are more full bodied. Pinot Gris also comes from California where it tends to have stone fruit notes with a lighter body. In Italy the Pinot Grigio name has branded its existence into almost the number one imported white wine.
- Pinot Noir is a black grape variety with thin skins, and as the result, Pinot Noir wines are usually light in color with low to medium levels of tannin. It is the patriarch of the ‘Pinot’ family - because they all have pine-shaped bunches - which also includes Gris, Blanc, and Chardonnay. With age some Pinot Noirs are able to develop great complexity. However, most Pinot Noirs are best consumed while they are youthful and fruity, except for the very best wines from Burgundy where the Pinot Noir's fussiness is most exploited. Since the Burgundy Reds from the different villages show slightly different aspects of this variety, they are given their own appellations. A Bourgogne AC should be a medium-bodied red with the balance of red-fruit and savory aromas, light tannins and medium to high acidity. Wines from other villages such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Beaune and Pommard, and particularly those from Premier Cru vineyard sites, offer more complexity, intensity and length. The most powerful, long-lived and complex Pinot Noir wines in the world are the Grand Cru Red Burgundies. There are also other premium Pinot Noir regions such as: the Russian River Valley, Oregon, New Zealand, Germany, Australia and South Africa.
- Riesling is an aromatic white grape variety. This kind of wine exhibits fruity and floral characteristics, rather than the vegetal Sauvignon Blanc. In cool climates, if the fruit is harvested when ripe, the wines have green fruit flavors (green apple, grape with floral notes and a hint of citrus fruit (lemon, lime). In moderate regions the citrus and fruit notes become dominant and some wines smell strongly of fresh lime or white peach. Germany is the home of Riesling wines as well as other regions such as Alsace, Austria, Clare Valley and Eden Valley in Australia and Marlborough in New Zealand.
- Sauvignon Blanc is an aromatic white grape variety. This variety usually needs a cool climate, but can survive in moderate climates. Sauvignon Blanc wines are high in acidity, medium-bodied, and usually dry. In cool climates they will exhibit its strong vegetal-aromatic character more than moderate climates. Most Sauvignons have no oak flavors because the process implemented is dominated by fruit flavors. Sauvignons will not benefit from bottle age. Its high acidity also makes it suitable for sweet wines particularly in Sauternes. The premium regions which these wines are made are the Loire, Bordeaux, Marlborough in New Zealand, Coastal Region of South Africa, California, and Chile.
- Syrah/Shiraz is a black grape variety, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, is small with thick, darkly colored skins. The wines are usually full-bodied and generally possess a black fruit (blackberry) and dark chocolate character. In moderate climate regions this may have hints of herbaceousness (mint, eucalyptus), smoked meat, and spice (black pepper). In hot climates there are more sweet spice notes (licorice, cloves). With age, the best wines develop animal and vegetable complexities. The Syrah wines that undergoes oak treatment also display toast, smoke, vanilla, and coconut flavors. The premium regions that produce Syrah wines are the Northern and Southern Rhone, Australia and Chile.
- Zinfandel is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. The variety is planted in over
- 10 percent of California vineyards. Uniquely American, this exuberant red wine is
- capable of producing top quality red wines that can rival Cabernet Sauvignon. It
- offers an array of flavors including black and red fruit, spice, pepper, tar, licorice
- and wood.