There are two main types of grapes, black grapes and white grapes. The pulp and flesh of the two grapes is similar, but the skins are much different. Both start out with green skin, but as the grapes ripen on the vine, black grapes start to turn dark purple, and white grapes start to turn golden in color. Red wines are made from the pulp and flesh of the grapes along with the skins, which give it the tannins of red wine. White wines are made from only the pulp and flesh of the grapes.

Principal Grape Varieties

There are 8 main principal grape varieties that make up a majority of the wine produced around the world. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir & Syrah/Shiraz. There are many other varieties grown and produced, but those 8 are the most well-known around the world.

There are so many aspects that determine all the characteristics of the wine you find in your glass. Among the more defining elements, is the wine grape or blend of grapes. The following list of wine grapes is divided between white and red. You’ll find descriptions of many of the wine grapes by clicking on the links. We gradually add links, so if the one you’re looking for isn’t ready yet, come back soon to check on it.

The aromas of a wine are generally divided into primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas. Primary aromas come from the wine grape itself, secondary aromas from the wine making process, and tertiary aromas come from the aging of the wine. Unless otherwise noted, the aromas listed are primary.

Grape Growing Regions

Another important thing to understand is that the climate of where each grape type and variety will impact it’s flavors. A grape like Chardonnay can be grown in cool climate or warm climates. And each climate will impact the flavors of the grapes.

Cool Climate Regions

It is more common to grow white grapes in cool climate regions than black grapes. These regions are further away from the equator, and the grapes don’t ripen as much as in warm climate regions. Areas like Germany, Northern France and New Zealand can be considered cool climate regions.

Warm Climate Regions

Here you will find black grapes more often, and the grapes will ripen more than in cool climate regions. Areas like Italy, Spain, Australia and parts of California are considered warm climate regions.

White (Green) Wine Grapes
AlbanaGrecoPinot Grigio
AlbariñoGrenache BlancProsecco
AligotéGrüner VeltlinerRibolla Gialla
ArneisInzolia (Ansonica)Riesling
Ansonica (Inzolia)KernerRoussanne
Bombino BiancoMalvasiaSauvignon Blanc
BourboulencMarsanneSémillon
ChardonnayMelonSylvaner
Chenin BlancMüller-ThurgauTocai Friulano
Clairette BlancheMuscadelleUgni Blanc (Trebbiano)
Coda di Volpe BiancaMuscatVerdeca
ColombardNosiolaVerdicchio Bianco
CorteseNuragusVerduzzo Friulano
ErbalucePalominoVermentino
FalanghinaPedro XiménezVernaccia di Oristano
FianoPicolitVernaccia di San Gimignano
GarganegaPicpoulViognier
GewürztraminerPignoletto
GrechettoPinot Blanc
Red (Black) Wine Grapes
AglianicoFreisaPiedirosso
AleaticoGaglioppoPignolo
Alicante BouschetGamayPinot Meunier
AvanàGrenache Noir (Cannonau)Pinot Noir
BarberaGrignolinoPinotage
BonardaLacrimaPrimitivo (Zinfandel)
BrachettoLagreinRefosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
Cabernet FrancLambrusco FamilyRossese
Cabernet SauvignonMalbecSagrantino
Calabrese (Nero d’Avola)Malavasia FamilySangiovese
Canaiolo NeroMammoloSchiava Gentile
CannonauMerzeminiSchioppettino
Carignan (Carignano)MerlotSyrah (Shiraz)
CarmenèreMontepulcianoTazzelenghe
CiliegioloMourvèdreTeroldego
CinsaultNebbioloTempranillo
ColorinoNegro AmaroTouriga Nacional
CorvinaNero d’AvolaUva di Troia
CroatinaPetit VerdotVernaccia Nera
DolcettoPetite SyrahVespolina
FrappatoPicpoul NoirZinfandel

White Wine Grapes

Albana Grapes

White wine grape was introduced to the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna by the Romans. Produces dry, demi-sec, and sweet wines and is especially known for its dessert wines.

Synonyms

Also known as Albanone or Albana Grossa, Albana del Riminese, Albana della forcella o Forcella, Albana di Forlì, Albana di Romagna, Albana di Bertinoro, Albana di Bologna, Albana di Lugo, Albana di Pesaro, Albana Gentile, Greco, Greco di Ancona, Riminese.

Where

Italy: Central Italy, especially the region of Emilia-Romagna, but also in Liguria, Tuscany, and Le Marche.

Principal Wines

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Albana di Romagna DOCG, Colli Bolognesi DOC, Reno DOC, Romagna Albana Spumante DOC

Characteristics

Color: Intense yellow or gold.

Nose: Fruity, Floral (honey)

Palate: Generally good balance between the fruit and acidity, with a bitter finish especially in dry versions. Medium body.

Greco Grapes

Greco is a white wine grape, probably arriving with Greek colonists between 700 and 800 BC. It’s mostly grown in southern and central Italy, most importantly in Campania’s Greco di Tufo DOCG.

Of the many versions of Greco vines, the most important are divided into two groups. In central Italy (Marche and Umbria) the most grown versions are Maceration, Grechetto di Todi and Grechetto di Orvieto. In the southern regions of Campania and Calabria the varieties are Greco di Tufo and Greco Bianco.

Synonyms

Greco is also known as Greco di Tufo, Greco di Napoli, Greco della Torre, Greco del Vesuvio, Grieco, Grecula, Maceratino

Where

Italy: Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Lazio, Molise, Puglia

Principal Wines

Italy: Basilicata: Matera DOC; Calabria: Bivongi DOC, Cirò DOC, Greco di Bianco DOC, Lamezia DOC, Melissa DOC, Verbicaro DOC; Campania: Greco di Tufo DOCG, Capri DOC, Irpinia DOC, Penisola Sorrentina DOC, Sannio DOC, Sant’agata de’Goti or Sant’Agata dei Goti DOC, Taburno DOC; Lazio: Colli Etruschi Viterbesi DOC, Marino DOC, Vignanello DOC; Molise: Molise or del Molise DOC; Puglia: Gravina DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with golden hues

Nose: Fruity (ripe peach), Mineral, Vegetal

Palate: Good velvety balance between alcohol and fresh acidity

Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio) Grapes

Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio in Italy) is a gray mutation of Pinot Noir. Very similar to Pinot Noir, the biggest difference is in the color of the grapes, which range from pinkish-gray to bluish-gray. Sometimes the vines produce grapes ranging from green to gray to red, and even individual grapes can be multicolored. The vine closely resembles Pinot Noir and, even today, it’s allowed in many Burgundian vineyards. But in France, Pinot Gris is best known in Alsace.

Like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris is a mutation of Pinot Noir and was widely planted in Burgundy in the middle ages. In the 1820s, a winemaker from Piedmont introduced the grape in Italy. In the 21st century, plantings in Italy have caught up to and even surpassed those of Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco). In the Veneto, it’s a popular grape with the local coops, where the high yields make for fairly generic wines. However, especially in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, skillful producers get great results. In Germany, Pinot Gris goes by Rulander for sweet wines and Grauburgunder for dry ones.

Pinot Gris is used in a wide range of wines, from still to sparkling, dry to late harvest.

Synonyms

Also known as Auvernat Gris, Borgogna Grigio, Burgunder Roter, Fauvet, Grauer Burgunder, Gris Cordelier, Malvoisie, Petit Gris, Pinot Beurot or Burot, Pinot Burton, Pinot Cendré, Pinot Grigio, Rülander, Tokay, Tokay d’Alsace, Tokayer

In Italy’s Valle d’Aosta Pinot Grigio is known as Malvoisie, not to be confused with Malvasia.

Where

France: Alsace, Jura, Loire

Germany: Baden, Palatinate, Rheinhessen, Nahe

Italy: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto

Also: Argentina, Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, USA (California, Oregon)

Principal Wines

France: Alsace: Alsace AOC, Alsace Grand Cru AOC, Crémant d’Alsace AOC; Jura: Crémant du Jura AOC; Loire: Châteaumeillant AOC, Reuilly AOC, Touraine Noble Joué AOC

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli Piacentini DOC, Colli di Parma DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo or Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC, Carso DOC; Lombardy: Garda DOC, Garda Colli Mantovani DOC, Oltrepo’ Pavese DOC, Piedmont: Piemonte DOC; Trentino-Alto Adige: Trentino DOC, Valdadige/Etschtaler DOC, Alto Adige or dell’Alto Adige / Südtriol or Südtiroler DOC; Veneto: Arcole DOC, Breganze DOC, Vicenza DOC, Montello e Colli Asolani DOC, Piave or Vini del Piave DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with golden hues, or light rosé depending on the vinification

Nose: Fruity (apple, pear, lemon), Floral (honey), Mineral

Palate: Crisp, with good alcohol, softness and body

Aligoté Grapes

Burgundy’s other white wine grape, after Chardonnay, and a member of the Pinot family. Frequently relatively acidic, sweet crème de cassis is often added to it to make the cocktail Kir.

The popular aperitif Kir is named after the World War II French Resistance hero and Mayor of Dijon, Cannon Félix Kir, who served the drink at town hall events, successfully promoting local products. In the 19th century, Kir was made with Aligoté-based wines with a little bit of Crème de Cassis and went by the names vin blanc cassis or blanc-cass.

Synonyms

Also known as Aligotay, Griset Blanc, Plant Gris, Plant de Trois Raisins, Plant de Trois, Blanc de Troyes, Troyen Blanc, Chaudenet Gras, Vert Blanc,

Where

France: Burgundy, Rhône

Also: Bulgaria, California, Chile, Romania, Russia, Ukraine

Principal Wines

France: Beaujolais: Coteaux-du-Lyonnais AOC; Burgundy: Bourgogne Aligoté AOC, Bouzeron AOC; Rhône: Châtillon-en-Diois

Characteristics

Color: Bright pale yellow

Nose: Fruity (apple, lemon)

Palate: Light bodied, relatively acidic

Ribolla Gialla Grapes

White wine grape best known in Italy’s Friuli region, but probably with Greek origins. Various documents from before the 14th century refer to it, and the 14th century writer Boccaccio mentions it in a condemnation of gluttony. In the 18th century, writer Antonio Musnig claimed that Ribolla Gialla made the finest white wine in Fruili. In the 20th century, many Ribolla Gialla vines were replaced with international varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, but recent interest in grape varieties considered native has resulted in new plantings.

In addition to making pure Ribolla Gialla wines, it is frequently blended with other local grapes such as Tocai Friulano and Malvasia Istriana. Ribolla Gialla is not related to Ribolla Nera, which is also known as Schioppettino.

Synonyms

Also known as Gargani, Ribolla, Ribolla, Rebula, Ribolla, Ribolla Bianca, Ribolla Gialla di Rosazzo, Ribolla, Rivuole, Ribuele, Robola

Where

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Also: Greece, Slovenia

Principal Wines

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC

Characteristics

Color: Light straw yellow with green (or sometimes yellow) hues.

Nose: Fruity (lemon), Floral, Nutty (Hazelnut), Mineral

Palate: Good acidity. Light body.

Inzolia Grapes

Ansonica is a white wine grape, mostly grown in Italy’s Tuscany and Sicily regions. In Sicily, it’s known as Inzolia and plays a role in a number of DOCs, including Marsala.

Its origins are unclear, with various sources claiming French, Middle Eastern, or Greek roots. Wherever it came from, Ansonica arrived in Sicily centuries ago, and then spread to southern Italy, Sardinia, and the island of Elba around the 16th century.

Synonyms

Also known as Ansolia, Ansolica, Ansora, Anzonica, Inselida, Insolia, Insolia di Palermo, Insora, Inzolia, ‘Nzolia, Zolia Bianca

Where

Italy: Calabria, Sicily, Tuscany

Also: Tunisia

Principal Wines

Italy: Calabria: Bivongi DOC; Sicily: Alcamo DOC, Contea di Sclafani DOC, Contessa Entellina DOC, Delia Nivolelli DOC, Erice DOC, Memertino di Milazzo or Mamertino DOC, Marsala DOC, Menfi DOC, Monreale DOC, Riesi DOC, Salaparuta DOC, Sambuca di Sicilia DOC, Santa Margherita di Belice DOC, Sciacca DOC, Vittoria DOC; Tuscany: Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario DOC, Elba DOC, Parrina DOC, Val di Cornia DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with green hues, sometimes even golden

Nose: Fruity, Vegetal

Palate: Medium-high alcohol and relatively low acidity

Riesling Grapes

Riesling may be the ancient argitis minor wine grape from Roman times, planted when the Romans occupied the territory in what is Germany today. But the first records of the grape come in the 15th century, first from Germany and then Alsace. In the early 1720s, it was planted in a single-variety vineyard at the Johannisburg Castle in Germany’s Rheingau. Today it is Germany’s most planted white grape, is widely grown in Alsace, and Chardonnay only recently overtook it in Australia. Riesling produces excellent age worthy wines from dry to dessert styles.

Synonyms

Also known as Edle Gewürztraube, Gentil Aromatique, Johannisberg, Johannisberg Riesling, Petit Riesling, Raisin du Rhin, Rhein Riesling, Rheingauer, Rheinriesling, Riesling Bianco, Riesling Giallo, Riesling Grosso, Riesling Renano, Riesling Rhénan, Riesling, Weisser Riesling, White Riesling

Riesling should not be confused with Riesling Italico, Clare Riesling, or Grey Riesling, which are different varieties.

Where

Australia: Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Goulburn Valley, Granton, Great Western, King Valley, Mount Barker, Pipers River, Tamar Valley

France: Alsace

Germany: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheingau, Rheinhessen

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto

USA: California, New York, Oregon, Washington

Also: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland

Principal Wines

France: Alsace: Alsace-Riesling AOC, Alsace Grand Cru Riesling AOC, Crémant-d’Alsace AOC

Italy: Lombardy: Garda DOC, Oltrepò Pavese; Trentino-Alto Adige: Trentino DOC, Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtirol or Südtiroler DOC; Veneto: Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow

Nose: Intense. Fruity (dry, lighter styles: peach, green apple, citrus. riper grapes: apricot, pineapple), Floral, Mineral, Spicy. Aged, Riesling develops a pleasant petroleum aroma

Palate: Medium body and good acidity

Malvasia Grapes

Usually white and sometimes red or pink, Malvasia refers to a very large family of wine grapes planted in many Mediterranean countries, usually producing aromatic and often sweet wines. The name comes from the Greek medieval town and fortress Monemvasia, called Malvasia by the Franks. (But recent DNA studies suggest the grape Monemvasia is not related to Malvasia). The first mention of the grape is from 1214 by Nicolaos Messaritès. Starting in 1278, Venetian merchants helped disperse the wines, and especially the vines, throughout the Mediterranean.

Synonyms

The Malvasia family is quite large, and includes A Regà, Malmsey, Malvagia, Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia Bianca di Bari, Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata, Malvasia Bianca di Candia, Malvasia Bianca di Toscana, Malvasia Bianca Lunga, Malvasia col Puntino, Malvasia del Carso, Malvasia del Chianti, Malvasia del Lazio, Malvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia d’Istria, , Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Malvasia di Lipari, Malvasia di Sardegna, Malvasia Friulano, Malvasia Gentile, Malvasia Istriana, Malvasia Lunga di Trieste, Malvasia Nostrale, Malvasia Pugliese Bianca, Malvasia Puntinata, Malvasia Toscana, Malvasia Trevigiana, Malvasia Verace, Marmaxia, Uva Greca, Uva Selvatica, Zante Bianca,

The are also some red varieties of Malavasia: Fra Germano, Malvasia a grappolo corto, Malvasia di Bitonto, Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Malvasia di Trani, Malvasia Nera di Candia, Malvasia di Casorzo, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Negra, Malvasia Nera, Malvasia Nera di Bari, Malvasia Nera da Brindisi, Malvasia Nera di Lecce, Malvasia Rossa, Malvasier, Moscatellina, Roter Malvasier

The French name, Malvoisie, is misleading and should not be confused with Malvasia. Malvoisie does not refer to any single grape variety, but has been used for a wide range of white grapes. For example, in Switzerland, France’s Loire and Savoy regions, and Italy’s Val d’Aosta Malvoisie is really Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). In France, it is sometimes used for Bourboulenc, Clairette, Macabeu, Torbato, and Vermentino.

Where

Greece: Paros, Naxos, Santorini

Italy: Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Lombardy, Piedmont, Puglia, Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto-Adige, Tuscany, Umbria, Veneto

Portugal: Madeira

Spain: Basque Country, Canary Islands, Navarra, Murcia, Rioja

Also: Argentina, California, Croatia

Principal Wines

Italy: Piedmont: Collina Torinese DOC, Malvasia di Casorzo DOC, Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco DOC; Lombardy: Oltrepo’ Pavese DOC; Veneto: Merlara DOC; Trentino-Alto-Adige: Alto Adige DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Carso DOC, Collio Goriziano DOC, Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Friuli Aquileia DOC, Friuli Isonzo DOC; Emilia-Romagna: Colli di Parma DOC, Colli Piacentini DOC; Tuscany: Colli dell’Etruria Centrale DOC, Pietraviva DOC; Umbria: Colli Amerini DOC; Lazio: Castelli Romani DOC, Colli Albani DOC, Frascati DOC; Abruzzo: Controguerra DOC; Basilicata: Matera DOC; Calabria: Bivongi DOC, San Vito di Luzzi DOC; Campania: Guardia Sanframondi DOC; Puglia: Gravina DOC, Lizzano DOC; Sicily: Malvasia delle Lipari DOC; Sardinia: Malvasia di Bosa DOC, Malvasia di Cagliari DOC

Portugal: Madeira (Since 1986, any wine named ‘Malmsey’ must contain at least 85% Malvasia)

Characteristics

There are so many wines and strains for Malvasia it’s impossible to define its characteristics, but you’ll often find:

Color: light to deeper straw yellow

Nose: Aromatic (similar to Muscat), Fruity (peach, apricot, bitter almond finish), Floral. The reds can have aromas of plum and chocolate.

Palate: Wines often have some residual sugar. Malvasia produces wines relatively high in alcohol, with a good balance between the alcohol and acidity.

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes

White wine grape with origins in Bordeaux, today Sauvignon Blanc is cultivated worldwide. The name comes from the French words sauvage and blanc, meaning ‘wild’ and ‘white’ respectively. The grape produces excellent crisp dry whites and is a part of many great dessert wines, especially from Sauternes. It is often blended with Sémillon. Studies at the University of California at Davis in 1997 showed that Cabernet Sauvignon is a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc.

Robert Mondavi is credited with inventing the name Fumé Blanc for Sauvignon Blanc in California. He had been producing a sweet Sauvignon Blanc and, starting with the 1968 vintage, Mondavi began producing dry versions. He created the term Fumé Blanc to differentiate them.

Synonyms

Also known as Blanc Doux, Blanc Fumé, Bordeaux Bianco, Douce Blanche, Fié, Fumé, Fumé Blanc, Gennetin, Gros Sauvignon, Libournais, Punéchon, Punéchou, Puinéchou, Rouchelin, Savagnou, Sarvonien, Servonien, Servoyen, Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanco, Surnin, Weisser Sauvignon

In California, the vine cultivated as Sauvignon Vert is really Muscadelle.

Where

Australia: South Australia: McLaren, Adelaide Hills

France: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Corsica, Languedoc, Loire Valley, Provence, Southwestern France

Italy: Alto-Adige, Emilia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Veneto

New Zealand: Marlborough

Portugal: Douro, Minho, Trás-os-Montes, Madeira

Spain: Penedès, Catalonia, Castilla-León

USA: California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Georgia

Also: Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Bolivia, Cyprus, Israel, South Africa

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Barsac AOC, Côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Premières-côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Frances AOC, Bordeaux Sec AOC, Cadillac AOC, Cérons AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Crémant-de-Bordeaux AOC, Entre-deux-Mers AOC, Graves AOC, Graves Supérieures AOC, Graves-de-Vayres AOC, Loupiac AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont AOC, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux AOC, Sauternes AOC; Loire: Anjou AOC, Cheverny AOC, Coteaux-du-Giennois AOC, Menetou-Salon AOC, Pouilly-Fumé AOC, Quincy AOC, Reuilly AOC, Sancerre AOC, Saumur AOC, Touraine AOC, Touraine-Mesland AOC, Valençay AOC; Poitou-Charentes: Haut-Poitou AOC; Provence: Bandol AOC, Cassis AOC, Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence AOC; Southwestern France: Béarn AOC, Béarn-Bellocq AOC, Bergerac AOC, Bergerac Sec AOC, Buzet AOC, Côtes-de-Bergerac AOC, Côtes-de-Duras AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Floc-de-Gascogne AOC, Gaillac AOC, Monbazillac AOC, Montravel AOC, Pacherenc-du-Vic-Bilh AOC, Saussignac AOC; Burgundy: Saint-Bris AOC

Italy: Alto-Adige: Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtirol or Südtiroler DOC; Emilia: Colli Piacentini DOC, Colli di Parma DOC, Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa DOC, Colli Bolognesi DOC, Bosco Eliceo DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo or Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC, Carso DOC; Lombardy: Garda DOC, Garda Colli Mantovani DOC, Oltrepò Pavese DOC; Veneto: Breganze DOC, Colli Berici DOC, Vicenza DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics (dry Sauvignon Blancs)

Color: Straw yellow

Nose: Vegetal (tomato leaf, grass, boxwood, crushed blackcurrant bud), Fruity (citrus, grapefruit, lime, passion fruit, kiwi), Spicy (green pepper), Mineral (especially from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé). Warmer climates produce fruity aromas of white peach, nectarine, melon, and, if fermented at low temperatures exotic tropical fruits such as banana and pineapple.

Palate: Mostly light to medium bodied. Crisp, fresh acidity.

Sémillon Grapes

Sémillon is a white wine grape, probably best known for its susceptibility to noble rot (botrytis cinerea), and the important role it plays in the wonderful sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. It is native to southwestern France, probably Sauternes. In Pessac-Léognan, Sémillon is blended with Sauvignon Blanc and small percentages of Muscadelle, or it can make up as much as 100% of these illustrious whites. The grape is also popular in Australia, where it produces dry and sweet wines, often blended with Sauvignon Blanc. Sémillon can age very well and is often fermented in oak casks.

Synonyms

Also known as Colombar, Chevrier, Mouscadelle, Sémillon Muscat, Sémillion Roux, Gros Sémillon, Blanc Sémillon, Sémillon Crucillant, Colombier, Goulu Blanc, Greengrape

Where

Australia: Hunter Valley

France: Bordeaux, Provence, Southwestern France

Italy: Calabria, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Puglia, Sardinia, Tuscany

Also: Argentina, Brazil, Chili, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, USA

Principal Wines

Australia: Hunter Valley

France: Bordeaux: Barsac AOC, Côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Premières-côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs AOC, Bordeaux Sec AOC, Cadillac AOC, Cérons AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Crémant-de-Bordeaux AOC, Entre-deux-Mers AOC, Graves AOC, Graves Supérieures AOC, Grave-de-Vayres AOC, Loupiac AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont AOC, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux AOC, Sauternes AOC; Poitou-Charentes: Pineau-des-Charentes AOC; Provence: Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence AOC, Coteaux-Varois AOC, Côtes-de-Provence AOC

Characteristics

Color: Yellow-gold

Nose: Fruity (nectarine, apricot, mango, citrus), Floral (honey), and with age, Nutty (hazelnut)

Palate: In cooler regions, Sémillon can have good acidity. In warmer areas, it has a full round texture that benefits from being blended with the crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Chardonnay Grapes

Chardonnay is a white wine grape, originally from France, and now one of the most planted white grapes grown throughout the world. Recent testing has shown that Chardonnay is a cross between Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc, both common grape varieties planted in northwest France in the middle ages.

There is some confusion between Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, with which, it turns out, Chardonnay is related. Pinot Blanc is a white mutant of Pinot Noir, so it shares some similarities with, and is related to Chardonnay. Chardonnay grows well in a wide variety of climates and soils, and is used to produce various dry, still, sparkling, and dessert wines. It can benefit from oak fermentation and aging, provided it’s not overdone.

Synonyms

Also known as Arboisier, Auvernas, Auvernat Blanc, Beaunois, Blanc de Champagne, Chablis, Chardenai, Chardenay, Chardenet, Chardonnet, Chatenait, Chaudenay, Chaudenet, Epinette, Epinette Blanche, Klevner, Maurillon Blanc, Morillon Blanc, Lisant, Luisant, Shardonne, Weisser Ruländer

Where

Australia: Adelaide Hills, Cowra, Eden Valley, Geelong, Granton, Great Western, Hunter Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Macedon, Margaret River, Mudgee, Orange, Padthaway, Pipers River, South East Gippsland, Tamar Valley, Tumbarumba, Yarra Valley

France: Alsace, Beaujolais, Burgundy, Champagne, Jura, Languedoc, Loire Valley, Poitou Charentes, Provence, Rhône

Italy: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Tuscany, Sicily, Umbria, Veneto

USA: California, New York, Oregon, Washington

Also: Argentina, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, Morocco, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland

Principal Wines

France: Alsace: Crémant d’Alsace AOC; Beaujolais: Beaujolais AOC, Coteaux-du-Lyonnais AOC; Burgundy: Aloxe-Corton AOC, Auxey-Duresses AOC, Bâtard-Montrachet AOC, Beaune AOC, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet AOC, Bourgogne AOC, Bourgogne-Côtes-Chalonnaise AOC, Bourgogne-Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune AOC, Bourgogne-Haute-Côtes-de-Nuits AOC, Chablis AOC, Chablis Grand Cru AOC, Chablis Premier Cru AOC, Chassagne-Montrachet AOC, Chevalier-Montrachet AOC, Chorey-lès-Beaune AOC, Corton AOC, Corton-Charlemagne AOC, Côte-de-Beaune AOC, Côte-de-Nuits-Villages AOC, Crémant-de-Borugogne AOC, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet AOC, Fixin AOC, Givry AOC, Ladoix AOC, Mâcon AOC, Mâcon-Villages AOC, Maranges AOC, Marsannay AOC, Mercurey AOC, Meursault AOC, Montagny AOC, Monthélie AOC, Montrachet AOC, Morey-Saint-Denis AOC, Musigny AOC, Nuits-Saint-Georges AOC, Pernand-Vergelesses AOC, Petit-Chablis AOC, Pouilly-Fuissé AOC, Pouilly-Loché AOC, Pouilly-Vinzelles AOC, Puligny-Montrachet AOC, Rully AOC, Saint-Aubin AOC, Saint-Romain AOC, Saint-Véran AOC, Santenay AOC, Savigny-lès-Beaune AOC, Viré-Clessé AOC, Vougeot AOC; Champagne: Champgne AOC, Coteaux-Champenois AOC; Jura: Arbois AOC, Côtes-du-Jura AOC, Crémant-du-Jura AOC, L’Etoile AOC, Macvin-du-Jura AOC; Languedoc: Blanquette-de-Limoux AOC, Crémant-de-Limoux AOC, Limoux AOC; Loire Valley: Anjou AOC, Cheverny AOC, Crémant-de-Loire AOC, Orléanais AOC, Saumur AOC, Touraine-Mesland AOC, Valençay AOC; Poitou-Charentes: Haut-Poitou AOC; Provence: Bellet; Rhône: Châtillon-en-Diois AOC

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli Piacentini DOC, Colli di Parma DOC, Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa DOC, Colli Bolognesi DOC, Colli d’Imola DOC, Colli Romagna Centrale DOC, Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo or Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC, Carso DOC; Lombardy: Franciacorta DOCG, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG, Garda DOC, Garda Colli Mantovani DOC, Oltrepo Pavese DOC; Sicily: Delia Nivolelli DOC, Alcamo DOC, Monreale DOC, Contessa Entellina DOC, Menfi DOC, Sambuca di Sicilia DOC, Sciacca DOC, Contea di Sclafani DOC; Trentino-Alto Adige: Trento DOC, , Trentino DOC, Valdadige DOC, Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtirol or Südtiroler DOC; Piedmont: Piemonte DOC, Langhe DOC, Alta Langa DOC; Tuscany: Montescudaio DOC, Cortona DOC, Sant’Antimo DOC, Valdichiana DOC; Umbria: Colli Martani DOC, Colli Perugini DOC, Torgiano DOC; Veneto: Colli Euganei DOC, Arcole DOC, Breganze DOC, Colli Berici DOC, Vicenza DOC, Montello e Colli Asolani DOC, Piave or Vini del Piave DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow tending toward gold.

Nose: Fruity (cooler regions: green apple, pear, citrus. Warmer regions: exotic fruits, pineapple, mango, banana), Mineral. Butter aromas can come from the grape and from malolactic fermentation. Oak fermentation and aging add aromas of caramel, vanilla, toasted bread.

Palate: Full bodied. Great balance between fresh acidity and softness

Müller-Thurgau Grapes

Müller-Thurgau is a hybrid white wine grape variety that Swiss Dr. Hermann Müller-Thurgau developed in 1882 at the Geisenheim Institute in Germany. Dr. Müller-Thurgau’s goal was to create a vine that would produce grapes with Riesling’s quality, elegance, and complexity, along with Sylvaner’s early ripening and ease of growing. The vine produces a lot of fruit and is relatively easy to grow, but most often lacks Riesling’s desired qualities. Strangely, DNA studies show that Müller-Thurgau is, in fact, from Riesling and a version of Chasselas.

Müller-Thurgau, much of which was used to make Liebfraumilch, was widely planted in Germany in the 1970s and 80s, even overtaking Riesling. Today, Müller-Thurgau is on decline in Germany, but it can produce fresh light wines of good quality in Italy’s Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions.

Synonyms

Also known as Müller, Müller-Thurgaurebe, Muller Thurgeau, Mueller-Thurgau, Riesling-Sylvaner, Rivaner

Where

Germany: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Nahe, Pfalz, Rheinhessen

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige

Also: Austria, Croatia, England, Hungary, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Switzerland, USA (Oregon)

Principal Wines

Italy: Trentino-Alto Adige: Trentino DOC, Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtirol or Südtiroler DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with green hues

Nose: Fruity (green apple, peach), Vegetal (herbs), Mineral

Palate: Light to medium body. Good balance between crispness and softness, as long as the grapes don’t ripen too much.

Tocai Friulano Grapes

Friulano is a white wine grape probably originally from Italy’s Veneto region, exported to Hungary in 1632 as part of Contessa Aurora Formentini’s dowry when she married Count Batthyàny, and then returned to Italy with the new name. It is the most planted white grape in Friuli.

Since March 31st, 2007 Tocai Friulano can no longer use the word ‘Tocai’. To address concerns of Hungarian wine producers, the grape is now called ‘Friulano’ to avoid any confusion with the Hungarian Tokaji, a wine made mostly with the Furmint grape. This grape should not be confused with Tokay d’Alsace either, which is really Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). In Chile, plantings of Tocai Friulano were erroneously thought to be Sauvignon Blanc.

Synonyms

Also known as Blanc Doux, Cinquien, Sauvignon Vert, Sauvignonasse, Toca, Tokai, Tocai Bianco, Tocai Italiano, Tocai Italico, Trebbianello

Where

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto

Also: California, Chile, New York. In Argentina there’s a grape called Tocai Friulano, but it may not be the same vine.

Principal Wines

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli Aquileia DOC, Friuli Grave DOC, Friuli Isonzo or Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli Latisana DOC; Veneto: Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli DOC, Breganze DOC, Colli Berici DOC, Colli Euganei DOC, Corti Benedettine del Padovano DOC, Garda DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC, Merlara DOC, Riviera del Brenta DOC, San Martino della Battaglia DOC, Vini del Piave or Piave DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with green hues.

Nose: Floral (almond flowers), Fruity (apples), Nutty (bitter almond), Vegetal (hay)

Palate: Medium Body . The softness and alcohol are well balanced by medium acidity and savoriness.

Muscadelle Grapes

White wine grape often used to produce sweet wines, most popular in Bordeaux where it can be blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon in both sweet and dry whites. Here, it generally makes up a small percentage of the blend. It shares some of Muscat’s grapey aroma, but isn’t related to it. In Australia it produces the sweet wine labeled as Tokay. In Monbazillac, it’s the second most important grape in the blend, after Sémillon.

Synonyms

Also known as Muscadel, Musquette, Muscadet Doux, Raisinotte, Angelico, Muscadelle du Bordelais, Raisimotte, Sauvignon Vert

Where

France: Bordeaux, Southwestern France

Also: Australia, California, Hungary, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Barsac AOC, Côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs AOC, Bordeaux Sec AOC, Cadillac AOC, Cérons AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Crémant-de-Bordeaux AOC, Entre-deux-Mers AOC, Graves Supérieures AOC, Graves-de-Vayres AOC, Loupiac AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Sainte-Croix-du-Mont AOC, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux AOC, Sauternes AOC; Languedoc: Corbières AOC; Roussillon: Collioure AOC; Southwestern France: Bergerac AOC, Bergerac Sec AOC, Côtes-de-Bergerac AOC, Côtes-de-Duras AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Gaillac AOC, Monbazillac AOC, Montravel AOC, Saussignac AOC

Characteristics

The only pure Muscadelle wine we know of is the Australian Tokay:

Color: Gold

Nose: Fruity (muscat grape, dried fig), Caramel

Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano) Grapes

White wine grape usually making uninteresting, neutral wines. In Umbria, as Procanico, it can make better wines. It is a high yielding vine and one of the most cultivated in the world. It is by far the most planted white variety in Italy. It’s included in over 80 DOC’s and accounts for about a third of all Italian white wine production. Trebbiano is used to produce balsamic vinegar.

As Ugni Blanc, the grape probably arrived in France with the Avignon Popes in the 14th century. Its most important home in France is in the southwest, where it’s used in the production of Cognac and Armagnac. Here too, it accounts for the majority of white wine.

Synonyms (and clones)

Also known as Branquinha, Clairette à grains ronds, Clairette Ronde, Douradinha, Bouan, Procanico, Roussan, Talia, Trebbiano Giallo, Trebbiano di Lugana, Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbiano di Toscana, Trebbiano Fiorentino, Trebbiano Romagnolo, Trebbiano Spoletino, Ugni.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is not a trebbiano, but Bombino Bianco. Trebbiano di Soave and Trebbiano di Lugana are not Trebbianos, but grapes related to Verdicchio. Trebbiano di Soave can make some very good wines, especially in Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions (Lugana DOC).

Where

France: Bordeaux, Corsica, Poitou-Charentes, Provence, Rhône, Southwest

Italy: Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania

Also: Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Greece, Mexico, California, Brazil, Portugal, Uruguay, South Africa, Australia

Principal Wines (and Eaux-de-Vie)

France: Bordeaux: Crémant de Bordeaux AOC; Côtes de Gascongne VDP; Corsica: Ajaccio AOC, Patrimonio AOC; Poitou-Charentes: Pineau-des-Charentes AOC; Provence: Bandol AOC, Bellet AOC, Cassis AOC, Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence AOC, Coteaux-Varois AOC, Côtes-de-Provence AOC, Palette AOC; Rhône: Coteaux-de-Pierrevert AOC, Lirac AOC; Southwest: Bergerac AOC, Bergerac Sec AOC, Côtes-de-Duras AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Floc-de-Gascogne AOC

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Bosco Eliceo DOC, Colli di Faenza DOC, Trebbiano di Romagna DOC; Tuscany: Bolgheri DOC, Colli Dell’Etruria Centrale DOC, Montecarlo DOC, Parrina DOC, Sant’Antimo DOC, Valcichiana DOC, Falerio dei Colli Ascolani or Falerio DOC; Umbria: Assisi DOC, Colli Altotiberini DOC, Colli Perugini DOC, Bianco di Torgiano DOC; Lazio: Trebbiano di Aprilia DOC, Colli Etruschi Viterbesi DOC, Est! Est! Est! di Montefiascone DOC; Abruzzo: Controguerra DOC; Molise: Biferno DOC; Campania: Sannio DOC, Taburno DOC; Puglia: Gioia del Colle DOC. Since the 2005 harvest, white grapes are no longer permitted in Chianti Classico DOCG. Trebbiano is frequently used in Tuscan Vin Santos.

Portugal: Vinho Verde

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow

Nose: Fruity (golden apples)

Palate: Relatively acidic in cooler regions such as Cognac and more neutral in warmer areas. The best versions balance the acidity with softness and medium alcohol. Light to medium body.

Verdicchio Bianco Grapes

White wine grape generally thought to be native to Italy’s Marche region; Verdicchios origins are uncertain but ancient, as the Latin agricultural writer Lucio Giunio Moderato Columella mentions it as early as the first century A.D. Recent DNA studies have concluded that Verdicchio Bianco is from the same family as Trebbiano di Soave and Trebbiano di Lugana. A popular theory is that around the 15th century, a number of farmers moved from the Verona area to the Marche, bringing some vine cuttings with them. Over the centuries, the vine adapted itself to its new environment and developed new characteristics. In addition to still whites, verdicchio gives good results as sparkling wine. The name undoubtedly comes from the green (verde) color of the grapes, and the green hue in its wines.

Synonyms

Also known as Marchigiano, Marino, Peloso, Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbiano di Lugana, Trebbiano Veronese, Trebbiano Verde, Turbiano, Turviana, Uva Marana, Verdicchio Dolce, Verdicchio Giallo, Verdicchio Marchigiano, Verdicchio Peloso, Verdicchio Stretto, Verdicchio Verde, Verdicchio Vero, Verdone, Verzello

Where

Italy: Lombardy, Marche, Veneto

Principal Wines

Italy: Lombardy: Capriano del Colle DOC; Veneto: Lugana DOC; Marche: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC, Verdicchio di Matelica DOC; Lazio: Castelli Romani DOC, Colli Albani DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with a touch of green.

Nose: Fruity (citrus, lemon, bitter almond), Floral, Vegetal. When aged, it acquires good complexity.

Palate: Refreshing acidity and savory character with enough softness to balance it.

Falanghina Grapes

Ancient white wine grape already known in Roman times. It was probably the base of the classic Roman wine Falerno. Falanghina produces white wines of great character and very good dessert wines.

Synonyms

Also known as Bianca Zita, Biancozita, Falanchina, Falanghina Verace, Falenghina, Falernina, Falerno Veronese, Uva Falerna

Where

Italy: Abruzzo, Campania, Lazio, Molise, Puglia, Sardegna

Principal Wines

Italy: Molise: Molise or Del Molise DOC; Campania: Campi Flegrei DOC, Capri DOC, Costa d’Amalfi DOC, Falerno del Massico DOC, Guardia Sanframondi o Guardiolo DOC, Irpinia DOC, Penisola Sorrentina, DOC, Sannio DOC, Sant’Agata de’Goti or Sant’Agata dei Goti DOC, Solopaca DOC, Taburno DOC

Characteristics

Color: Light yellow or gold.

Nose: Fruity

Palate: Dry, velvety, good alcohol, can be low on acidity

Vermentino Grapes

Vermentino’s origins aren’t entirely certain, but the wine grape likely comes from the Spanish Pyrenees, brought to Italy by way of Corsica under the Spanish domination of the late 1300s. Others claim Vermentino to be native Italian, going back to Sardinia in the 1300s.

Today, the grape is most important in Italy’s Liguria, Tuscany, and Sardinia regions. In France, it is the most widely grown white grape in Corsica. In Sardinia too, it represents some 64% of all land dedicated to grapes. Recent studies have shown that Vermentino is essentially the same as Pigato and Favorita. Pigato is widely grown in Liguria, and Favorita appears in Piedmont’s Langhe DOC.

Synonyms

Also known as Carbesso, Carbes, Favorita, Formentino, Malvasia à Gros Grains, Malvasia Grossa, Malvoisie du Dourc, Pigato, Piccabon, Uva Saviola, Verlantin, Vermentinu

Where

France: Corsica, Languedoc, Rhône, Roussillon

Italy: Liguria, Sardinia, Tuscany, Umbria

Principal Wines

France: Corsica: Ajaccio AOC, Patrimonio AOC; Languedoc: Corbières AOC, Minervois AOC; Rhône: Coteaux-de-Pierrevert AOC, Côtes-du-Luberon AOC; Roussillon: Banyuls AOC, Banyuls Grand Cru AOC, Côtes-du-Roussillon AOC, Maury AOC, Rivesaltes AOC

Italy: Liguria: Colli di Luni DOC, Volline di Levanto DOC, Golfo del Tigullio DOC, Riviera Ligure di Ponente DOC, Val Polcèvera DOC; Tuscany: Bolgheri DOC, Candia dei Colli Apuani DOC, Capalbio DOC, Colline Lucchesi DOC, Elba DOC, Montecarlo DOC, Montecucco DOC, Monteregio di Massa Marittima DOC, Montescudaio DOC, Terratico di Bibbona DOC, Val di Cornia DOC; Umbria: Colli del Trasimeno o Trasimeno DOC; Sardegna: Vermentino di Gallura DOCG, Alghero DOC, Vermentino di Sardegna DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow with green hues

Nose: Fruity (lemon, hazelnut), Vegetal, Mineral

Palate: Crisp and savory balanced with softness and good alcohol. Medium body and a slightly bitter finish.

Fiano Grapes

Fiano is an ancient white wine grape that was already known and written about in Roman times. It is native to southern Italy’s Campania region, specifically from the hills around the town of Avellino. Fiano is best known in the DOCG Fiano di Avellino. In addition to making dry white wines, some producers make sparkling and dessert versions with the grape.

Synonyms

Also known as Fiana, Fiore Mendillo, Foiano, Latino, Latina Bianca, Latino Bianco, Minutola, Minutolo, Santa Sofia

Where

Italy: Campania, Puglia

Principal Wines

Italy: Campania: Fiano di Avellino DOCG, Cilento DOC, Irpinia DOC, Sannio DOC; Puglia: Martina or Martina Franca DOC, Locorotondo DOC

Characteristics

Color: Light straw yellow with gold hues

Nose: Fruity (ripe fruits, pear, apple), Floral (honey)

Palate: Medium to full bodied

Picpoul Grapes

Ancient white wine grape with a high potential for alcohol and notable crisp acidity. There is also an aromatic red version, Picpoul Noir, that has all but disappeared.

Synonyms

Also known as Piquepoul

Where

France: Languedoc, Rhône

Principal Wines

France: Languedoc: Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet AOC, Minervois AOC; Provence: Palette AOC; Rhône: Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Lirac AOC, Tavel AOC

Characteristics

Color: Yellow with green tinge

Nose: Fruity (citrus, lemon)

Palate: Full and round with good acidity

Pignoletto Grapes

Pignoletto is a white wine grape, probably the same variety as Grechetto. It is a very adaptable, rather rustic grape that can produce good wines in the hills of Emilia-Romagna. The name probably comes from the Italian word pigna or pinecone. Many varieties, Pignolo for instance, get this name because of the compact pinecone shape of its grape bunches. In Emilia-Romagna, where Pignoletto is best known in Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto DOC, the locals say the name comes from an ancient wine that Pliny the Elder mentioned as Pino Lieto in his Naturalis Historia.

Synonyms

Also known as Alionza, Aglionzina, Grechetto di Todi, Grechetto Gentile, Greco Gentile, Pignoletto Bolognese, Pignolino, Ribolla Riminese

Where

Italy: Emilia-Romagna

Principal Wines

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli bolognesi DOC, Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOC, Colli di Faenza DOC, Colli d’Imola DOC, Colli di Rimini DOC, Reno DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow, with green hues

Nose: Fruity (apple, peach, pineapple, almond), Floral, Vegetal

Palate: Good alcohol and softness, well balanced with acidity. Almond finish.

Grechetto Grapes

Grechetto is a white wine grape in the Greco family. Grechetto is part of the central Italian group of Greco, those grown in Le Marche and Umbria. In Emilia-Romagna, Grechetto is known as Pignoletto.

Grechetto is most popular in Umbria, where it makes very good Vin Santo and plays a big role in the Orvieto DOC. It is often blended with Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Verdello.

Synonyms

Also known as Grechetto, Grechetto di Orvieto, Grechetto Nostrale, Grechetto Spoletino, Greco Bianco di Perugia, Montanarino Bianco, Montanaro, Occhieto, Pignoletto, Pistillo, Pizzinculo, Pulce, Pulcinculo Bianco, Stroppa Volpe

Where

Italy: Tuscany, Umbria

Principal Wines

Italy: Tuscany: Cortona DOC, Valdichiana DOC, Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC; Umbria: Assisi DOC, Colli Altotiberini DOC, Colli del Trasimeno o Trasimeno DOC, Colli Martani DOC, Colli Perugini DOC, Colli Perugini DOC, Montefalco DOC, Orvieto DOC

Characteristics

Color: Straw yellow

Nose: Fruity (pear, almond)

Palate: Medium bodied with moderate acidity

Red Wine Grapes

Aglianico Grapes

Aglianico is one of Italy’s oldest red wine grape varieties. There are two theories about where Aglianico comes from. The first suggests it is of Greek origin, with the Italian adjective Ellenico – ‘of Greek origin’ as the source of its name. The second theory is that Aglianico is a domesticated native grape variety, its name coming from Spanish origins. Derived from the Spanish word llano – ‘flat’, Aglianico or Glianico would be ‘grape of the plains’. According to Nico Manessis, author of The Illustrated Greek Wine Book, in Greece there is no known grape variety that resembles Aglianico, other than the Aglianico that was recently imported from Italy.

The grape ripens very late, with harvests as late as November. Aglianico is almost certainly the grape the Romans used to make the famous Falerno.

Synonyms

Also known as Aglianica, Aglianico del Vulture, Aglianico Trignarulo, Aglianicone, Agliano, Aglianicuccia, Ellenico, Fresella, Gagliano, Gesualdo, Gilanica, Ghiandare, Gnanico, Guanico, Hellanica, Olivella di S. Cosmo, Spriema, Ruopolo, Tringarulo, Uva Aglianica, Uva dei Cani, Uva di Castellaneta, Uva Nera

Where

Italy: Basilicata, Campania, Molise, Puglia

Principal Wines

Italy: Molise: Molise or Del Molise DOC; Campania: Taurasi DOCG, Aglianico del Taburno or Taburno DOC, Cilento DOC, Costa d’Amalfi DOC, Falerno del Massico DOC, Galluccio DOC, Guardia Sanframondi o Guardiolo DOC, Irpinia DOC, Penisola Sorrentina DOC, Sannio DOC, Sant’agata de’ Goti or Sant’Agata dei Goti DOC, Solopaca DOC; Basilicata: Aglianico del Vulture DOC; Puglia: Castel del Monte DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red with brick hues

Nose: Fruity (Cherry jam, prune), Nutty (almond), Floral (violet), Spicy (licorice), Animal (leather), Vinous

Palate: Full bodied. High alcohol balanced with good acidity and tannins. Savory

Freisa Grapes

Freisa is a red wine grape probably native to the hills between Asti and Turin in Italy’s Piedmont region. The first sure reference to it is by Count Nuvolone in 1799. But there’s another document from the early 1500s that mentions Fresearum, most likely Freisa. For a long time it was also grown in Italy’s Lombardy and Veneto regions. DNA testing has shown that Freisa is a relative of Nebbiolo.

Often produced in lightly sparkling versions, Freisa has a bitterness that is frequently offset by leaving some residual sugar in the wine.

Synonyms

Also known as Fessietta, Freisa del Piemonte, Freisa di Chieri, Freisa Grossa, Freisa Piccola, Freisetta Fresa, Fresia, Monferrina, Monfesia, Monfrà, Monfreisa, Spannina

Where

Italy: Piedmont

Also: Argentina

Principal Wines

Italy: Piedmont: Canavese DOC, Colli Tortonesi DOC, Freisa d’Asti DOC, Freisa di Chieri DOC, Langhe DOC, Monferrato DOC, Pinerolese DOC

Characteristics

Color: Bright ruby red with purple hues

Nose: Floral (rose, violet), Fruity (raspberry, strawberry)

Palate: Medium body, good crisp acidity, noticeable alcohol, and a bitter finish. Can be tannic

Pignolo Grapes

Pignolo is a red wine grape from Italy’s Friuli region. The first recorded reference to the grape is from around 1100 when a scholar noted it was customary to offer a wine made from Pignolo to Lieutenants arriving for the first time in the commune of Udine. Pignolo has relatively low yields and its English translation is ‘persnickety’ or ‘meticulous’ and may explain why more of it isn’t planted.

It’s unlikely that Pignolo is the same grape as Pignola, whose grape bunches differ regarding their size and appearance. Pignolo is probably native to Friuli, whereas Pignola is more likely from Piedmont and today only grown in Lombardy, where it’s also known as Pignola Valtellinese and Pignolo Spanna.

Synonyms

Also known as Pignul

Where

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Principal Wines

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red

Nose: Fruity (blackberry, plum), Spicy

Gamay Grapes

Gamay is a red wine grape also known as Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc (black Gamay with white juice), presumably to distinguish it from other types of Gamay, such as Gamay Teinturier varieties that have red flesh as well as the skin.

Gamay’s history can be traced back to the 14th century and the village of Gamay, in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, near the villages of Saint Aubin and Chassagne Montrachet. First cited in the 1360s, in 1395, the Duke of Burgundy, Philippe le Hardi (Philip the Bold) signed an edict to govern wine production in Burgundy. The edict mandated certain vinification methods and, in order to encourage planting the more noble Pinot Noir, demanded that Gamay be ripped up as ‘infâme et déloyal’ or ‘despicable and disloyal’. In 1459, Duke of Burgundy Philippe le Bon (Philippe the Good), grandson of Philippe le Hardi, restated the family’s dislike for the grape, saying it could ‘fool foreigners’, referring to the Christian church who was a big customer of Burgundy wines. According to the Duke, Burgundy needed to live up to its reputation for producing ‘the best wines of Christendom.’ Fortunately, Gamay found a good exile a little farther south in Beaujolais.

Today it’s still best known in the Beaujolais, both for the celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau, released with a lot of fanfare every third Thursday of November, but also for more serious Beaujolais Villages, and the 10 Beaujolais Crus (Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié and Saint-Amour). Carbonic maceration is often used to produce light refreshing reds to enjoy young, but some of the crus, most notably Chénas, Juliénas, Morgon, and Moulin-à-Vent can age well up to 10 years.

Related to Pinot Noir, Gamay buds, flowers, and ripens earlier than its parent, so it does well in cooler regions such as France’s Loire Valley, although it risks spring frosts. In other parts of the world, Gamay was introduced to Italy in 1825 and is still produced there in small quantities. In California, there are a couple of ‘Gamay’ grapes, neither of which are from Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. What’s grown as ‘Gamay Beaujolais’ is really a clone of Pinot Noir. ‘Napa Gamay’ is really Valdiguié, a French vine that’s no longer grown there.

Synonyms

Also known as Bourguignon Noir, Gamai Noir, Gamay Noir, Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc, Gamay du Beaujolais, Gamay Piccolo, Gamay Piccolo Nero, Gamay Thomas, Gamé, Petit Bourgignon, Petit Gamai, Petite Lyonnaise

Where

France: Alsace, Burgundy-Beaujolais, Loire, Rhône, Savoie, Southwestern France

Italy: Valle d’Aosta, Tuscany, Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Also: Canada, Croatia, Kosovo, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, USA

Principal Wines

France: Alsace: Côtes de Toul AOC; Burgundy: Bourgogne Passetoutgrain AOC, Crémant de Bourgogne AOC, Mâcon AOC; (Beaujolais): Beaujolais AOC, Beaujolais-Villages AOC, Brouilly AOC, Côtes-de-Brouilly AOC, Chénas AOC, Chiroubles AOC, Coteaux-du-Lyonnais AOC, Côte-Roannaise AOC, Fleurie AOC, Juliénas AOC, Morgon AOC, Moulin-à-Vent AOC, Régnié AOC, Saint-Amour AOC; Loire: Anjou-Gamay AOC, Châteaumeillant AOC, Cheverny AOC, Coteaux du Giennois, Coteaux du Loir, Coteaux Vendômois, Côte Roannaise, Côtes-d’Auvergne, Côtes du Forez AOC, Rosé d’Anjou AOC, Saint Pourçain AOC, Saumur AOC, Touraine AOC, Touraine Amboise AOC, Touraine Mesland AOC, Valençay AOC; Rhône: Châtillon en Diois AOC; Savoy: Vin de Savoie AOC; Southwestern France: Côtes du Marmandais AOC, Gaillac AOC

Italy: Valle d’Aosta: Valle d’Aosta DOC; Tuscany: Cortona DOC, Colli dell’Etruria Centrale DOC

Characteristics

Color: Red with purple hues. Some Rosés available locally

Nose: Fruity (banana, raspberry, cherry), Spicy (black pepper)

Palate: Low tannins, moderate alcohol, good fresh acidity

Cannonau Grapes

Grenache Noir (Cannonau) is one of the most planted grapes in the world. It almost certainly comes from Spain’s Aragon region and was spread throughout the Mediterranean during that kingdom’s long occupation of Southern France and Italy from the 13th to 17th centuries.

As Garnacha in Spain, it is often blended with Tempranillo and most notably plays a role in Priorat and Rioja. In Rioja it’s grown in the relatively warm Rioja Baja and plays a secondary role, blended with Tempranillo. In Priorat, Grenache can be blended with Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah.

Today, France is the number one producer of Grenache, where it is often blended with more colorful, structured wine grapes. It’s an important grape in France’s Languedoc-Roussillon, where it’s the 2nd most planted grape variety, after Carignan. It is usually blended with Carignan, Cinsaut, Syrah and Mourvèdre and is a big component of Cotes du Rhône, Châteauneuf du Pape, and Gigondas. It also goes into many of Southern France’s delicious rosés, including Tavel and Lirac. In Roussillon, it makes Vins Doux Naturels such as Banyuls and Maury.

Synonyms

Also known as Alicante, Alicante di Spagna, Alicantina, Cannonadu, Canonao, Cannonao, Carignane Rousse, Garnacha, Garnacha Negra, Garnacha Tinta, Granaccia, Granacha, Grenache Noir, Roussillon, Tocai Rosso, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, Vernaccia Nera

Where

France: Corsica, Languedoc, Provence, Rhône, Roussillon

Spain: Aragon, Basque Country, Castilla-León, Castilla-La Mancha, Cataluña, Estremadura, Madrid, Navarra, Región de la Murcia, Rioja, Valencia

Italy: Calabria, Sardinia, Sicily, Veneto (as Tocai Rosso)

Also: Algeria, Australia, Israel, Morocco, South Africa, USA (California)

Principal Wines

France: Corsica: Ajaccio AOC, Patrimonio AOC, Corse AOC; Languedoc: Cabardès AOC, Corbières AOC, Costières-de-Nîmes AOC, Languedoc or Coteaux-du-Languedoc AOC, Fitou AOC, Minervois AOC, Saint-Chinian AOC; Provence: Bandol AOC, Baux-de-Provence AOC, Bellet AOC, Cassis AOC, Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence AOC, Coteaux-Varois-en-Provence AOC, Côtes-de-Provence AOC, Palette AOC; Rhône: Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, Coteaux-de-Pierrevert AOC, Coteaux-du-Tricastin AOC, Côtes-du-Luberon AOC, Côtes-du-Rhône AOC, Côtes-du-Rhône-Villages AOC, Côtes-du-Ventoux, Côtes-du-Vivarais AOC, Gigondas AOC, Lirac AOC, Rasteau AOC, Tavel AOC, Vacqueyras AOC; Roussillon: Banyuls AOC, Banyuls Grand Cru AOC, Collioure AOC, Côtes-du-Roussillon AOC, Rivesaltes AOC

Italy: Sardinia: Cannonau di Sardegna DOC, Mandrolisai DOC; Veneto: Colli Berici DOC

Spain: Aragon: Somontano DO, Campo de Boria DO, Cariñena DO, Calatayud DO; Catalonia: Penedès DO, Priorat DOC; Navarra: Navarra DO; Rioja: Rioja DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red. Brick hues after aging

Nose: Fruity (black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, red currant, roasted almond), Floral (honey), Spicy (ginger bread, black pepper), Vegetal (black olive), Animal (leather)

Palate: Medium body, high in alcohol. Medium tannin and acid

Pinot Noir Grapes

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape, most famous in Burgundy. The word ‘pinot’ probably comes from ‘pine’ or ‘pin’ in French, and refers to the cone shape of the grape bunches. Pinot Noir was probably cultivated by the Gauls when their lands were conquered by the Romans. With a history of some 2000 years, it comes as no surprise that Pinot Noir has parented at least 16 popular wine grape varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gamay Noir, Aligoté, and Muscadet. Pinot Noir ripens relatively early and makes a wide variety of wines, from Champagne and other sparklers to sumptuous reds from Burgundy and many parts of the world.

Synonyms

Also known as Borgogna Nero, Blauburgunder, Burgunder Blauer, Franc Noirien, Franc Pineau, Noir de Franconier, Noirien, Pineau de Bourgogne, Pineau Noir, Pineau, Pinot Fin, Pinot Nero, Pinot Tinto, Plant à Bon Vin, Plant Fin, Spätburgunder

Where

France: Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, Eastern France, Jura, Loire, Rhône, Savoy

Italy: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto

USA: California, New York, Oregon, Washington

Also: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Germany, Hungary, New Zealand, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland

Principal Wines

France: Alsace: Alsace-Pinot Noir AOC, Crémant-d’Alsace AOC; Burgundy: Aloxe-Corton AOC, Auxey-Duresses AOC, Beaune AOC, Blagny AOC, Bonnes-Mares AOC, Bourgogne AOC, Bourgogne-Côte-Chalonnaise AOC, Bourgogne-Hautes-Côtes-de-Beaune AOC, Bourgogne-Hautes-Côtes-de-Nuits AOC, Bourgogne-Passetougrain AOC, Chambertin AOC, Chambertin-Clos-de-Bèze AOC, Chambolee-Musigny AOC, Chapelle-Chambertin AOC, Charmes-Chambertin AOC, Chassagne-Montrachet AOC, Chorey-lès-Beaune AOC, Clos-de-la-Roche AOC, Clos-des-Lambray AOC, Clos-de-Tart AOC, Clos-de-Vougeot AOC, Clos-Saint-Denis AOC, Corton AOC, Côte-de-Beaune AOC, Côte-de-Nuits-Villages AOC, Crémant-de-Bourgogne AOC, Echézeaux AOC, Fixin AOC, Gevrey-Chambertin AOC, Givry AOC, La Grande-Rue AOC, Grands-Echézeaux AOC, Griotte-Chambertin AOC, Irancy AOC, Ladoix AOC, Latricières-Chambertin AOC, Mâcon AOC, Maranges AOC, Marsannay AOC, Mazis-Chambertin AOC, Mazoyères-Chambertin AOC, Mercurey AOC, Meursault AOC, Monthélie AOC, Morey-Saint-Denis AOC, Musigny AOC, Nuits-Saint-Georges AOC, Pernand-Vergelesses AOC, Pommard AOC, Puligny-Montrachet AOC, Richebourg AOC, La Romanée AOC, Romanée-Conti AOC, Romanée-Saint-Vivant AOC, Ruchottes-Chambertin AOC, Rully AOC, Saint-Aubin AOC, Saint-Romain AOC, Santenay AOC, Savigny-lès-Beaune AOC, La Tâche AOC, Volnay AOC, Vosne-Romanée AOC, Vougeot AOC; Champagne: Champagne AOC, Coteaux-Champenois AOC, Rosé-des-Riceys AOC; Eastern France: Côtes-de-Toul AOC; Jura: Arbois AOC, Côtes-du-Jura AOC, Crémant-du-Jura AOC, Macvin-du-Jura AOC; Loire Valley: Cheverny AOC, Coteaux-du-Giennois AOC, Coteaux-du-Vendômois AOC, Crémant-de-Loire AOC, Menetou-Salon AOC, Reuilly AOC, Sancerre AOC, Touraine-Noble-Joué AOC, Valençay AOC; Rhône: Châtillon-en-Diois AOC; Savoy: Vin-de-Savoie AOC

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli Piacentini DOC, Colli di Parma; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano o Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo o Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC; Lombardy: Franciacorta DOC, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG, Garda DOC, Oltrepò Pavese DOC; Piedmont: Piedmont DOC; Trentino-Alto Adige: Trento DOC, Trentino DOC, Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtirol or Südtiroler DOC; Veneto: Breganze DOC, Vicenza DOC, Piave or Vini del Piave DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red that tends to lighten with age

Nose: Fruity (cherry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry), Animal (leather, game), Vegetal (mushroom), Mineral

Palate: Generally medium body and moderate tannins.

Barbera Grapes

Barbera is one of Italy’s most important red wine grapes. It’s almost certainly from the Monferrato region of Piedmont, where it’s still most widely grown. Although the grape must have been around for centuries, probably called something else, the first references to Barbera come in the late 1700s. The name is likely a cross between the Italian barba, or beard, referring to the vine’s extensive root system, and the local dialect albèra, which refers to the bushy regions where the vines were planted.

Until recently, Barbera wasn’t taken very seriously, largely because its high acid was considered a problem. But with improved winemaking techniques and often the use of oak barrels, Barbera has become a grape worthy of standing next to the grand Nebbiolo. Two of the best known examples of Barbera are the Barbera d’Asti and the Barbera d’Alba.

Synonyms

Also known as Barbera a Raspo Rosso, Barbera a Raspo Verde, Barbera Amaro, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera Dolce, Barbera Fina, Barbera Forte, Barbera Grossa, Barbera Nera, Barbera Nostrana, Barberone, Barbin, Barvesino

Where

Italy: Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Campania

Also: Argentina, Australia, Greece, Mexico, USA (California)

Principal Wines

Italy: Campania: Castel San Lorenzo DOC, Sannio DOC; Emilia-Romagna: Colli Bolognesi DOC, Colli d’Imola DOC, Colli di Parma DOC, Colli Piacentini DOC, Colli Romagna Centrale DOC; Lombardy: Botticino DOC, Garda DOC, Oltrepò Pavese DOC, San Colombano al Lambro or San Colombano DOC; Piedmont: Barbera d’Alba DOC, Barbera d’Asti DOC, Barbera del Monferrato DOC, Canavese DOC, Colli Tortonesi DOC, Collina Torinese DOC, Colline Novaresi DOC, Colline Saluzzesi DOC, Coste della Sesia DOC, Gabiano DOC, Monferrato DOC, Piemonte DOC, Pinerolese DOC, Rubino di Cantavenna DOC, Valsusa DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red

Nose: Vinous, Fruity (cherry), Floral (Violet)

Palate: The high acidity is softened with good levels of alcohol. Low to medium tannins. Medium body.

Bonarda Grapes

Bonarda is an ancient red wine grape from Italy’s Piedmont region. It gets confusing talking about Bonarda, because 3 or 4 distinct grape varieties go by the name. The true Bonarda, Bonarda Piemontese, is actually the least cultivated. It was once widely planted in Piedmont, but is becoming more and more rare there. Most of the ‘Bonarda’ in Italy are really Croatian or Uva Rara.

The wine grape called Bonarda Novarese is really Uva Rara, and is planted in the Novara and Vercelli hills of Piedmont, and in the Oltrepò Pavese.

In Emilia Romagna, there’s a good deal of ‘Bonarda’ that goes into varietal wines and the popular Gutturnio of the Colli Piacentini DOC. But most of this is really Croatian.

There is a grape called Bonarda in Argentina too, but it hasn’t yet been determined if it’s the same variety. If tests show it truly is Bonarda, then Argentina has more of it planted than Italy.

The name Bonarda likely comes from the Italian buono, or ‘good’, thanks to the grape’s sweet flavor. In fact, Bonarda is often consumed as a table grape.

Synonyms

Also known as Balsamina, Bonarda dell’Astigiano, Bonarda di Chieri, Bonarda di Gattinara, Bonarda del Monferrato, Bonarda Piemontese

Where

Argentina

Italy: Emilia Romagna, Piedmont

Principal Wines

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli di Parma DOC, Colli Piacentini DOC; Piedmont: Canavese DOC, Collina Torinese DOC, Colli Tortonesi DOC, Coste della Sesia DOC, Monferrato DOC, Piemonte DOC, Pinerolese DOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red with purple hues

Nose: Vinous, Fruity (red berries, strawberry), Floral (violet)

Palate: Medium body with crisp acidity balanced with medium alcohol and softness. Low in tannins. Often a pleasantly bitter finish

Zinfandel Grapes

Known as Primitivo in southern Italy and Zinfandel in the rest of the world, it is a red wine grape of Croatian origins. When it arrived in Italy isn’t certain, but some claim it came to Italian shores with Balkan colonists before the 7th century BC. Another theory has Primitivo arriving much later, planted by Benedictine Monks in the 17th century. In either case, the origins of the use of the word ‘Primitivo’ are clearly from an 18th century priest from Gioia del Colle in Puglia. In Latin, ‘primo’ means first and he noted that Primitivo ripens very early.

When and how Zinfandel arrived in the United States is much better documented. It was imported to New England from an Austrian nursery in the early 1800s, and was growing in California by the 1850s.

White Zinfandel’ is a pink wine made with red Zinfandel grapes. As with almost all red wine grapes, Zinfandel’s flesh is white. After crushing the grapes, the winemaker leaves the juice in contact with the red skins for a short time to absorb some of the color. White Zinfandel is usually sweet, and may include grapes that are more aromatic such as Muscat or Riesling in the blend.

Synonyms

Also known as Primaticcio, Primativo, Primitivo di Gioia, Primitivo Nero, Morellone, Uva di Corato, Uva della Pergola

Where

Italy: Basilicata, Campania, Puglia

USA: California

Also: Australia, Brazil, Portugal, Mexico, South Africa

Principal Wines

Italy: Campania: Falerno del Massico DOC; Basilicata: Matera DOC; Puglia: Gioia del Colle DOC, Primitivo di Manduria DOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red with purple hues.

Nose: Fruity (lighter versions: raspberry, blackberry, cranberry, strawberry. Fuller versions: black cherry, blackcurrant, prune, raisin), Spicy (anise, black pepper, clove, cinnamon, oregano), Floral (violet, rose), chocolate, cedar

Palate: Full bodied. High in alcohol

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Grapes

Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso is a red wine grape native to northern Italy. It belongs to the Refosco family, which includes Terrano and Cagnina. The name comes from the red stem of the grape bunches, which distinguishes it from other varieties from the same family. It was recorded for the first time in Friuli in the 18th century.

Synonyms

Also known as Mercouri, Refoschin, Refosco, Refosco degli Uccelli, Refosco Nostrano, Refosk, Refousco

Where

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto

Principal Wines

Italy: Veneto: Corti Benedettine del Padovano DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC, Riviera del Brenta DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Carso DOC, Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli Aquileia DOC, Friuli Grave DOC, Friuli Isonzo o Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli Latisana DOC

Characteristics

Color: Medium to deep ruby red

Nose: Fruity (blackberries, cherry, red fruits), Earthy (undergrowth), Vegetal

Palate: Full bodied, savory, somewhat tannic and bitter. Can have high acidity, since the grapes tend to ripen late.

Cabernet Franc Grapes

Cabernet Franc is a red wine grape, originally from Bordeaux. In the 17th century, Cardinal Richelieu had the Abbot Breton plant the vine at the Abbey of Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil in the Loire Valley where it produces fantastic wines. Today it is grown throughout the world.

The word ‘cabernet’ probably comes from ‘carbon’ and refers to its dark color. Cabernet Franc is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is frequently confused with Carmenère, especially in Italy and Chile. Cabernet Franc is the parent of the Cabernet family and ripens earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Synonyms

Also known as Bidure, Bordò, Bouchet, Bouchy, Breton, Cabernet Francese, Cabonet, Carbenet, Gros Cabernet, Grosse Vidure, Kaberne Franck, Plant Breton

Where

France: Bordeaux, Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Provence, Southwestern France

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Trentino, Tuscany, Veneto

USA: California, Washington, New York, Virginia, Georgia

Also: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Greece, Hungary, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur AOC, Bordeaux Clairet AOC, Bordeaux Rosé AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs AOC, Côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Canon-Fronsac AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Côtes-de-Castillon AOC, Fronsac AOC, Graves-de-Vayres AOC, Haut-Médoc AOC, Graves AOC, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC, Lussac-Satin-Emilion AOC, Margaux AOC, Médoc AOC, Montagne-Saint-Emilion AOC, Moulis-en-Mécdoc AOC, Pauillac AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Pomerol AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Puissseguin-Saint-Emilion AOC, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux AOC, Saint-Emilion AOC, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Saint-Estèphe AOC, Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion AOC, Saint-Julien AOC; Loire: Anjou AOC, Anjou-Villages AOC, Anjou-Villages-Brissac AOC, Bougueil AOC, Cabernet-d’Anjou AOC, Cabernet-de-Saumur AOC, Chaverny AOC, Chinon AOC, Coteaux-du-Loir AOC, Coteaux-du-Vendômois AOC, Crémant-de-Loire AOC, Haut-Poitou AOC, Orléanais AOC, Rosé-d’Anjou AOC, Rosé-de-Loire AOC, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil AOC, Saumur AOC, Saumur-Champigny AOC, Touaine AOC, Touraine-Amboise AOC, Touraine-Mesland AOC, Valençay AOC; Poitou-Charentes: Pineau-des-Charentes AOC; Provence: Coteaux-Varois AOC; Southwestern France: Béarn AOC, Béarn-Bellocq AOC, Bergerac AOC, Buzet AOC, Côtes-du-Frontaonnais AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Floc-de-Gascogne AOC, Gaillac AOC, Irouléguy AOC, Madiran AOC, Marcillac AOC, Pécharmant AOC, Tursan AOC

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano o Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo o Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC, Carso DOC; Lombardy: Garda DOC, Garda Colli Mantovani DOC; Trentino: Trentino DOC, Valdadige Terra dei Forti DOC; Tuscany: Montescudaio DOC, Super Tuscan IGTs; Veneto: Colli Euganei DOC, Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli DOC, Merlara DOC, Arcole DOC, Breganze DOC, Colli Berici DOC, Vicenza DOC, Montello e Colli Asolani DOC, Piave or Vini del Piave DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red with purple hues. A little lighter in color than Cabernet Sauvignon

Nose: Fruity (raspberry), Vegetal (green pepper), Floral (Violet)

Palate: Less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes

Cabernet Sauvignon is a red wine grape that, in 1997 the University of California at Davis determined to be a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Native to Bordeaux, it has conquered the world. It plays a part in some of the greatest wines in the world, most notably from Bordeaux, California, and increasingly Italy. Cabernet Sauvignon is frequently blended with Merlot for roundness and Cabernet Franc for fruitiness. Cabernet Sauvignon probably arrived in Italy in the 1820s and is recorded in the Veneto region in the 1870s. After Merlot, it’s probably the most planted red grape in the world – it’s second to Merlot in Bordeaux too. Cabernet Sauvignon ages well and benefits from oak aging.

Synonyms

Also known as Bidure, Cabernè, Cabernet Piccolo, Petit Cabernet, Petite Vidure, Vidure, Vidure Sauvignonne

Where

Australia: Coonawarra, Margaret River

Chile: Aconcagua Valley

France: Bordeaux, Languedoc, Loire, Poitou-Charentes, Provence, Southwestern France

Italy: Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Tuscany, Veneto

USA: California, New York, Washington

Also: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Moldavia, Morocco, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Turkey

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Côtes-de-Blaye AOC, Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur AOC, Bordeaux Clairet AOC, Bordeaux Rosé AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs AOC, Canon-Fronsac AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Côtes-de-Castillon AOC, Fronsac AOC, Graves AOC, Graves-de-Vayres AOC, Haut-Médoc AOC, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC, Listrac-Médoc AOC, Lussac-Saint-Emilion AOC, Margaux AOC, Médoc AOC, Montagne-Saint-Emilion AOC, Mouis-en-Médoc AOC, Pauillac AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Pomerol AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion AOC, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux AOC, Saint-Emilion AOC, Saint-Emilion Grand Crus AOC, Saint-Estèphe AOC, Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion AOC, Saint-Julien AOC; Languedoc: Cabardès AOC, Côtes-de-la-Malepère AOC, Limoux AOC; Loire: Anjou AOC, Anjou-Villages AOC, Anjou-Villages-Brissac AOC, Bourgueil AOC, Cabernet-d’Anjou AOC, Cabernet-de-Saumur AOC, Chinon AOC, Crémant-de-la-Loire AOC, Orléanias AOC, Rosé-d’Anjou AOC, Rosé-de-Loire AOC, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil AOC, Saumur AOC, Saumur-Champigny AOC, Touraine AOC, Valençay AOC; Poitou-Charente: Pineau-des-Charentes AOC; Provence: Baux-de-Provence AOC, Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence AOC, Côtes-de-Provence AOC; Southwestern France: Béarn AOC, Béarn-Bellocq AOC, Bergerac AOC, Buzet AOC, Côtes-du-Frontonnais AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Floc-de-Gascogne AOC, Gaillac AOC, Irouléguy AOC, Madiran AOC, Marcillac AOC, Pecharmant AOC, Tursan AOC

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli Piacentini DOC, Colli di Parma DOC, Colli Bolognesi DOC, Colli d’Imola DOC, Colli di Rimini DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano o Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo o Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC, Carso DOC, Trentino-Alto Adige: Trentino DOC, Valdadige/Etschtaler DOC, Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtriol or Südtiroler DOC; Tuscany: Carmignano DOCG, Val di Cornia DOC, Cortona DOC, San Gimignano DOC, Sant’Antimo DOC, Capalbio DOC, Sovana DOC, Super Tuscan IGTs; Veneto: Colli Euganei DOC, Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli DOC, Merlara DOC, Arcole DOC, Breganze DOC, Vicenza DOC, Montello e Colli Asolani DOC, Piave or Vini del Piave DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red with purple, almost blue tinges when young.

Nose: Fruity (blackcurrant), Woody (cigar box, cedar, pencil shavings), Floral (Violet), Vegetal (Green Pepper, mint), Toasted (chocolate)

Palate: Full bodied. Tannins and acidity balanced with suppleness

Malbec Grapes

Malbec is a red wine grape originally from the Southwest of France, but today it is probably best known in Argentina where cuttings from Bordeaux were introduced in the mid 1800s. Along with Petit Verdot and Carmenère, Malbec is one of the lesser-used grapes allowed in red Bordeaux. A freeze in February, 1956 killed a lot of Bordeaux’s Malbec, which was replanted with Merlot. Today in France, Malbec is most successful in the ‘black wine’ of Cahors, where it makes up at least 70% of the blend with Merlot and Tannat.

Synonyms

Also known as Auxerrois, Cot, Côt, Beran, Beraou, Bérau, Bourguignon Noir, Calarin, Cahors, Caours, Malbech, Malbeck, Noir Doux, Préchat, Teinturier

Where

Argentina: Mendoza

France: Bordeaux, Eastern France, Languedoc, Loire, Southwestern France

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Puglia, Veneto

Also: Australia, Chile, New Zealand, USA (California, Washington)

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs AOC, Canon-Fronsac AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Fronsac AOC, Haut-Médoc AOC, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC, Médoc AOC, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Pomerol AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Saint-Julien AOC; Eastern France: Côtes-de-Toul AOC; Languedoc: Côtes-de-la-Malepère AOC, Limoux AOC; Loire: Cheverny AOC, Coteaux-du-Loir AOC, Rosé d’Anjou AOC, Saumur AOC, Touraine AOC, Touraine-Amboise AOC, Touraine-Azay-le-Rideau AOC, Touraine-Mesland AOC, Valençay AOC; Southwestern France: Bergerac AOC, Cahors AOC, Côtes-de-Bergerac AOC, Côtes-de-Duras AOC, Côtes-du-Frontonnais AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Floc-de-Gascogne AOC, Pécharmant AOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark purple

Nose: Fruity (plum, raisin), Floral (violet), Vegetal (tobacco)

Palate: Full bodied. Tannic

Nero d’Avola Grapes

Even if the name Calabrese suggests origins in Italy’s Calabria region, the vine is almost certainly native to Sicily, where it’s the most planted red wine grape. The name may come from the Greek Calauris, or possibly from the local dialect Cala ausisi or Colla-Analisi, which mean ‘grape from Avola’ (Avola is a city in the southeastern part of the island). Another theory says Calabrese comes from the Middle Ages, when wines from Calabria were more highly regarded than the local ones. Sicilian traders claimed the wines were Calabrese, or from Calabria, to fetch better prices.

Synonyms

Also known as Calabrese Nero, Calabrese d’Avola, Calabrese Pizzuto, Calabrese Dolce

Where

Italy: Calabria, Sicily

Principal Wines

Italy: Calabria: Bivongi DOC; Sicilia: Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Alcamo DOC, Contea di Sclafani DOC, Contessa Entellina DOC, Delia Nivolelli DOC, Eloro DOC, Erice DOC, Mamertino di Milazzo or Mamertino DOC, Marsala DOC, Menfi DOC, Monreale DOC, Riesi DOC, Salaparuta DOC, Sambuca di Sicilia DOC, Santa Margherita di Belice DOC, Sciacca DOC, Vittoria DOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark cherry red

Nose: Fruity (plum), chocolate

Palate: Full bodied and tannic, with good alcohol and moderate acidity

Sangiovese Grapes

Sangiovese is a red wine grape, probably originally from Tuscany, but may be from Emilia-Romagna. It goes back to Etruscan times. There are various theories for the name Sangiovese. Some say the word has to do with characteristics of the grape and its cultivation and comes from a Tuscan dialect, French, or Latin. Others say it means “Blood of Jupiter” or “Blood of Jove”. It is the most cultivated grape in Italy.

Synonyms

Also known as Brunello, Calabrese, Cardisco, Maglioppa, Mercatale, Morellino, Nerino, Nielluccio, Pigniuolo Rosso, Prugnolo, Prugnolo Gentile, Riminese, Sangineto, Sangiogheto, Sangiovese dal Cannello Lungo, Sangiovese di Romagna, San Gioveto Grosso, Sangioveto Chiantigiano, Sangioveto Doppio, San Zoveto, Tignolo, Sangiovese Premutico, Sangiovese Romagnolo,

Where

France: Corsica

Italy: Cultivated in almost every region, it’s most important in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marche, Lombardia, Liguria, Umbria, Lazio, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Sicily, and Sardinia.

USA: California, Washington

Also: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Romania

Principal Wines

France: Corsica: Vin de Corse AOC, Patrimonio AOC

Italy: Tuscany: Chianti DOCG, Chianti Classico DOCG, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, Bolgheri DOC, Carmignano DOC, Montescudaio DOC, Pomino DOC, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, San Gimignano DOC; Emilia-Romagna: Sangiovese di Romagna DOC, Colli di Faenza DOC; Umbria: Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG; Le Marche: Rosso Piceno DOC; Lazio: Aprilia DOC; Campania: Cilento DOC, Sannio DOC

Characteristics

Color: Rosés are sometimes made, but it generally makes a vibrant, fairly dark, ruby red wine.

Nose: Intense, Fruity (black cherry, blackberry, plum, strawberry, blueberry), Floral (violet), Spicy (cinnamon, clove, thyme)

Palate: Generally medium body with good acidity.

Canaiolo Nero Grapes

Red wine grape whose origins are uncertain, it may be a native Tuscan grape already known in Etruscan times. At one time an important ingredient in Chianti, its use has declined drastically since it is difficult to graft on phylloxera resistant rootstock. When the governo system was more common it was popular for its resistance to rot as the grapes dried. There is also a white version, Canaiolo Bianco grown in Umbria. In Orvieto it’s called Drupeggio.

Synonyms

Also known as Canaiuolo Nero, Canina, Cagnina, Uva dei cani, Uva Canaiolo, Uva Donna, Uva Merla, Uva Fosca, Canaiolo Toscano, Uva Marchigiana, Cannaiola, Tindilloro, Caccione Nero, Tindiloro.

Where

Italy: Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio

Principal Wines

Italy: Tuscany: Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC, Rosato di Carmignano DOC, Colli dell’Etruria Centrale DOC; Umbria: Pietraviva DOC, Rosso Orvietano DOC; Lazio: Colli Etruschi Viterbesi DOC. Chianti DOCG can contain up to 10%, Chianti Classico DOCG up to 20%, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Rosso di Montepulciano both up to 20%.

Characteristics

Usually used in a blend, especially with Sangiovese, Canaiolo vinified by itself produces:

Color: Dark brick red

Palate: Full bodied, high in alcohol, and somewhat bitter when aged.

Schioppettino Grapes

Red wine grape, native to Italy’s Friuli region and cultivated there since at least the 13th century when it was cited in a marriage ceremony in 1282. Following the Phylloxera epidemic, it gave way to French varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot in the 20th century. Today it is coming back, along with other local varieties such as Tazzelenghe and Pignolo. In the local dialect of Udine, the grape was called Scoop which could explain the current name. Another theory is that the name comes from the character of the grape; the Italian verb scoppiare means to burst or explode, and might refer to the thick skins and crunchiness of the grapes.

Synonyms

Also known as Pocalza, Ribolla Nera, Schiopettino, Scoppiettino

Where

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Principal Wines

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Friuli Isonzo o Isonzo del Friuli DOC

Characteristics

Color: Intense dark purple.

Nose: Intense. aromas Fruity (raspberries), Floral (violets), Spicy (black pepper)

Palate: Medium body. Slightly tannic good acidity.

Merlot Grapes

Merlot is probably the most planted red wine grape variety in the world. It is by far the most cultivated variety in Bordeaux, especially on the Right Bank. Cabernet Franc is likely one of its parents, which makes it a relative of Cabernet Sauvignon too. It is often blended with these two relatives, adding roundness to the blend, and ripening a full week ahead of Cabernet Sauvignon. Much of what was planted as Merlot in Chile turned out to be Carmenère. The first recorded mention of Merlot is by Victor Rendu in 1857 as part of the Médoc blends.

Merlot Blanc’ is a white grape that is unrelated to red Merlot. While hunting in 1891, the owner of a château on Bordeaux’s Right Bank found the vines and named them ‘Merlot Blanc’ because the leaves resembled those of Merlot. Later, cuttings were also used in Blaye, Bourg, and Graves. However, the wine ‘White Merlot’ is made from red Merlot, much the same way ‘White Zinfandel’ is made from Zinfandel.

Synonyms

Also known as Bégney, Bigney,Galot, Merlò, Merlot Noir, Merlau, Merlan, Sémillon Rouge

Where

Chile: Maipo, Aconcagua, Colchagua, Curicó

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Tuscany, Veneto

USA: California, New York, Washington

Also: Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Hungary, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Blaye AOC, Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur AOC, Bordeaux Clairet AOC, Bordeaux Rosé AOC, Bordeaux-Côtes-de-Francs AOC, Canon-Fronsac AOC, Côtes-de-Bourg AOC, Côtes-de-Castillon AOC, Fronsac AOC, Graves AOC, Graves-de-Vayres AOC, Haut-Médoc AOC, Lalande-de-Pomerol AOC, Listrac-Médoc AOC, Lussac-Saint-Emilion AOC, Margaux AOC, Médoc AOC, Montagne-Saint-Emilion AOC, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Pauillac AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Pomerol AOC, Premières-Côtes-de-Bordeaux AOC, Puisseguin-Saint-Emilion AOC, Sainte-Foy-Bordeaux AOC, Saint-Emilion AOC, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru AOC, Saint-Estèphe AOC, Saint-Georges-Saint-Emilion AOC, Saint-Julien AOC; Languedoc: Côtes-de-la-Malepère AOC, Limoux AOC; Poitou-Charentes: Pineau-des-Charentes AOC; Southwestern France: Bergerac AOC, Buzet AOC, Cabardès AOC, Cahors AOC, Côtes-de-Bergerac AOC, Côtes-de-Duras AOC, Côtes-du-Marmandais AOC, Floc-de-Gascogne AOC, Gaillac AOC, Marcillac AOC, Pécharmant AOC

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli di Parma DOC, Colli Bolognesi DOC, Bosco Eliceo DOC; Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC, Collio Goriziano or Collio DOC, Friuli-Isonzo or Isonzo del Friuli DOC, Friuli-Annia DOC, Friuli-Aquileia DOC, Friuli-Latisana DOC, Friuli-Grave DOC, Carso DOC; Trentino-Alto Adige: Trentino DOC, Alto Adige or Dell’Alto Adige/Südtirol or Südtiroler DOC; Tuscany: Colline Lucchesi DOC, Val di Cornia DOC, Cortona DOC, San Gimignano, Sant’Antimo DOC, Sovana DOC, Super Tuscan IGTs; Veneto: Colli Euganei DOC, Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli DOC, Merlara DOC, Arcole DOC, Colli Berici DOC, Vicenza DOC, Montello e Colli Asolani DOC, Piave or Vini del Piave DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red

Nose: Fruity (strawberry, cherry, raspberry, blackcurrant, prune), Spicy (cinnamon, clove, licorice) Vegetal (green pepper, olive, tobacco), Toasted (chocolate, coffee)

Palate: Supple. Medium to Full Bodied. Soft tannins.

Carmenère Grapes

Carmenère is a red wine grape often confused with Cabernet Franc, especially Italy, and confused with Merlot in Chile. It is similar to both vines. Before the phylloxera epidemic in the 19th century, Carmenère was widely planted in Bordeaux. Today it is almost non-existent there.

The name probably comes from ‘carmine’, referring to its dark crimson color. Along with Petit Verdot and Malbec, it’s one of the lesser-used varieties permitted in Bordeaux blends along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. It ripens even later than Cabernet Sauvignon.

Synonyms

Also known as Carménère, Carmenere, Carmeneyre, Carmenelle, Carbonet, Grand Carmenet, Grande Vuidure, Cabernelle,

Where

Chile

France: Bordeaux

Italy: Grown in Northeastern Italy, but mistakenly called Cabernet Franc

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur AOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red

Nose: Fruity (black fruits), Spicy, Vegetal (green pepper), Toasted (coffee)

Palate: Full bodied. Relatively low acidity. Tannic.

Tazzelenghe Grapes

Tazzelenghe is a native red wine grape from Italy’s Friuli region. The name comes from two Italian words, Tagliare and lingua, which mean ‘cut’ and ‘tongue’ respectively; the grape’s high acidic levels and tannins ‘cut your tongue’.

Synonyms

Also known as Refosco del Botton, Tàce-Lénghe, Tacelenge, Tazzalenghe Nera, Tazzalenghe Nera Friulana, Tassalinghe, Taze Lunghe, Tazzalingua

Where

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Principal Wines

Italy: Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red

Nose: Vinous

Palate: It needs aging to round its high acid and tannic character

Nebbiolo Grapes

Nebbiolo is one of Italy’s most respected wine grapes. Known as ‘the Prince of vines’, it is responsible for 4 of Italy’s DOCGs: Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont, and Valtellina Superiore e Sforzato di Valtellina in Lombardy. While it’s the most prestigious grape in Piedmont, only about 3% of the area’s wine production comes from the grape. Nebbiolo also does well in Lombardy, exclusively in the Valtellina region. It’s more limited in Valle d’Aosta where it’s called the “Mountain Brother of Barolo”.

There are 3 theories about where the name Nebbiolo came from. Some say it’s derived from the word ‘noble’, while others contest that it comes from the Italian nebbia, which means fog. The fog could refer to the cloudy bloom that covers the ripe grapes, turning them almost grey. More likely, the fog refers to the harvests of this late-ripening grape. By mid October or even November, when Nebbiolo is ready, Piedmont’s hills are covered in fog.

The first references to Nebbiolo come in the 1200s, when it was cited as growing in Rivoli, now a suburb of Turin. In 15th century Piedmont, the community of La Morra established a law calling for the amputation of a hand or the hanging of anyone destroying a vine of nebbiolo!

Nebbiolo is a very sensitive and demanding grape. It needs good exposure to the sun, and prefers calcareous marls, or soils that aren’t too dry. It is most likely native to the Alba/Langhe area of Piedmont, and has 3 sub varieties authorized in Barolo and Barbaresco. Limpia has the smallest berry, and Michet has a characteristic blue/black color. The third is Nebbiolo Rosé, and it’s probably a distinct variety, rather than a sub variety. Its berries have a purple color. Nebbiolo is related to Freisa, Vespolina and, likely, Viognier.

In Lombardy, Nebbiolo goes by Chiavennasca, from the local ciu vinasca or ‘suitable for the transformation into wine’. Spanna, as Nebbiolo is known in Piedmont’s Novara region, goes back to a grape variety cited by Pliny the Elder in Roman times: Spioana, from spinus, which was Prugnolo, a fruit known for the bloom in its skins, just like Nebbiolo.

Experiments with Nebbiolo outside of Italy have yet to give convincing results.

Synonyms

Also known as Brunenta, Chiavennasca, Marchesana, Martesana, Melasca, Nebieu, Nebieul, Nebbiolo di Carema, Nebbiolo del Piemonte, Picotendre, Picotener, Picoultener, Prunenta, Spanna

Where

Italy: Piedmont, Lombardy, Valle d’Aosta

Also: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Mexico, USA (California, Washington)

Principal Wines

Italy: Piedmont: Barbaresco DOCG, Barolo DOCG, Gattinara DOCG, Ghemme DOCG, Roero DOCG, Albugnano DOC, Boca DOC, Bramaterra DOC, Canavese DOC, Carema DOC, Colli Tortonese DOC, Colline Novaresi DOC, Colline Saluzzesi DOC, Coste della Sesia DOC, Fara DOC, Langhe DOC, Lessona DOC, Monferrato DOC, Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC, Pinerolese DOC, Sizzano DOC; Lombardy: Sforzato di Valtellina or Sfursat di Valtellina DOCG, Valtellina Superiore DOCG, Valtellina Rosso or Rosso della Valtellina DOC; Valle d’Aosta: Valle d’Aosta or Vallée d’Aoste DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red with brick hues. Becomes more and more orange with age

Nose: Famous for its tar and roses. Fruity (dried cherries and other dried red fruits, plum, cherry, blackberry), Floral (rose, violet), Earthy (undergrowth, truffle, mushroom), Spicy (cinnamon, licorice), tar

Palate: Full, good alcohol and acidity, tannic, long

Colorino Grapes

Red wine grape with remote origins, probably a cross between local wild grapes. Its name comes from the intense color of its skin. It was traditionally used in Tuscany in the governo technique. It is sometimes used to add color and tannins to Sangiovese-based wines.

Synonyms

Also known as Abrostino, Abrusco, Colorino di Valdarno, Raverusto

Where

Italy: Tuscany, Umbria

Principal Wines

Italy: Tuscany: Montecarlo DOC; Umbria: Lago di Corbara DOC, Rosso Orvietano DOC

Characteristics

Color: Intense ruby red

Croatina Grapes

Croatina is a red wine grape with a long history. It was first cited as Bonarda di Rovescala in 1192. The grape buds and ripens late and generally makes wines for early consumption.

Croatina is grown in Lombardy’s Oltrepò Pavese, in Piedmont, and in Emilia-Romagna. In Emilia-Romagna, Croatina is often called Bonarda and, along with Barbera, it makes one of Emilia-Romagna’s best known wines, the Colli Piacentini Gutturnio.

Synonyms

Also known as Bonarda, Bonarda di Rovescala, Croata, Croattina, Crostino, Crovalmo, Cravattino, Crovettina, Nebbiolo di Gattinara, Neretto, Uva del Zio, Uva Vermiglia

Where

Italy: Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Piedmont

Principal Wines

Italy: Emilia-Romagna: Colli Piacentini DOC; Lombardy: Oltrepò Pavese DOC, San Colombano al Lambro or San Colombano DOC; Piedmont: Cisterna d’Asti DOC, Colli Tortonesi DOC, Colline Novaresi DOC, Coste della Sesia DOC

Characteristics

Color: Ruby red with purple hues

Nose: Fruity (plum, red fruit)

Palate: Medium body, with moderate acidity and alcohol

Petit Verdot Grapes

Petit Verdot is a late-ripening red wine grape from Bordeaux. It is grown in small quantities in the Médoc, blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to give the blends its color and tannins. In Australia, Petit Verdot has produced some good varietal wines. The ‘Gros Verdot’ planted in Argentina is an unrelated variety.

Synonyms

Also known as Bouton Blanc, Carmelin, Petit Verdau, Petit Verdot Noir, Verdot, Verdau, Verdot Rouge

Where

France: Bordeaux

Also: Australia, Chile, Italy, South Africa, USA

Principal Wines

France: Bordeaux: Bordeaux AOC, Bordeaux Supérieur AOC, Haut-Médoc AOC, Listrac-Médoc AOC, Médoc AOC, Moulis-en-Médoc AOC, Pessac-Léognan AOC, Saint-Estèphe AOC, Saint-Julien AOC

Characteristics

Color: Dark ruby red

Nose: Floral (violet), Spicy

Palate: Tannic

Vernaccia Nera Grapes

Vernaccia Nera is a red wine grape, best known in Italy’s Marche region, where it’s the main ingredient in the frothy Vernaccia di Serrapetron DOCG.

Other than sharing the name ‘Vernaccia’, it is completely different from Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Tuscany), Vernaccia di Oristano or Vernaccia di Cagliari (both Sardinia). The name ‘Vernaccia’ comes from the Latin for ‘vernacular’ or ‘indigenous’, and was applied to local grapes of such different regions.

The first writings about Vernaccia Nera come in the 1800s, when it was often cited as being one of the best red wine grapes in the area around Ancona, in Italy’s Marche region.

Recent testing has shown that Vernaccia Nera is in the Grenache family, making it a relative to Tocai Rosso, Alicante, and Cannonau.

Synonyms

Also known as Cerretana, Morone, Vernaccia di Cerreto, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, Vernaccia di Teramo

Where

Italy: Marche, Umbria

Principal Wines

Italy: Marche: Vernaccia di Serrapetrona DOCG, Colli Maceratesi DOC, I Terreni di Sanseverino DOC, Serrapetrona DOC

Characteristics

Color: Deep ruby red

Nose: Vinous, Fruity (cherry, raspberry), Floral (violet), Spicy (clove)

Palate: Medium body, alcohol, and acidity. Faintly bitter finish

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Sources:
Viaggio Attraverso i Vitigni Autoctoni Italiani, by Luca Pollini
Il Vino Italiano, published by the Associazione Italiana Sommeliers
Dictionnaire Encyclopédique des Cépages by Pierre Galet
Guide des Cépages by Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand
Le Guide Hachette des Vins 2008
The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson

Note: if you notice any errors or omissions, please let us know. We are constantly working to improve this all-inclusive list of wine grapes and appreciate any feedback you can provide. Thanks for visiting our website and hopefully you found this list of wine grapes helpful!