How Many Wine Grape Varieties Are There?

When it comes to wine-grape varieties, the numbers are staggering. The world of wine encompasses a vast array of grape cultivars, each with its unique characteristics and flavors. While it is challenging to pinpoint an exact count, experts estimate that there are over 10,000 distinct wine grape varieties worldwide. These varieties vary in terms of color, taste, aroma, and the regions they thrive in.

Which Grape Variety Makes Red Wine?

While various grape varieties contribute to the production of red wine, some stand out as the stars of the red wine world. Prominent red wine grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah (also known as Shiraz), and Sangiovese. These grapes possess different flavor profiles, ranging from bold and robust to elegant and complex.

Which Grape Variety Makes White Wine?

When it comes to white wine production, several grape varieties shine brightly. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio are some of the most popular grape varieties used to make white wines. These grapes offer a range of flavors, from crisp and citrusy to floral and aromatic, providing an extensive palette of options for white wine enthusiasts.

Popular Grape Varieties in Different Wine Regions

Various wine regions around the world have become synonymous with specific grape varieties. For instance, Bordeaux, France, is renowned for its red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while Burgundy is famous for its Pinot Noir. In Italy, Sangiovese is prominent in Tuscany, while Nebbiolo shines in the Piedmont region. Exploring these regional specialties allows wine lovers to delve into the unique expressions of grape varieties across different wine regions.

Here is a quick reference guide do some important grape varietals to know.

Grape VarietalKey RegionsAroma CharacteristicsAcidity LevelBodyTypes of WineFood PairingsFun Fact
AglianicoCampania, Basilicata (Italy)Blackberry, plum, leatherMedium to highFull-bodiedRedGrilled meats, aged cheesesAglianico is often referred to as the “Barolo of the South.”
AlbariñoRías Baixas (Spain), Vinho Verde (Portugal)Citrus, peach, white flowersHighLight to medium-bodiedWhiteSeafood, grilled vegetablesAlbariño is known for its crisp acidity and refreshing character.
BarberaPiedmont (Italy), California (USA)Red cherry, blackberry, violetMedium to highMediumRedPasta with tomato-based saucesBarbera is one of Italy’s most planted grape varieties.
BlaufränkischBurgenland (Austria), HungaryBlackberry, black pepper, herbsMedium to highMediumRedGrilled sausages, roasted vegetablesBlaufränkisch is known for its spicy and peppery character.
Cabernet FrancBordeaux (France), Loire Valley (France), Tuscany (Italy)Red currant, bell pepper, violetsMediumMediumRedRoasted vegetables, lambCabernet Franc is one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet SauvignonBordeaux (France), Napa Valley (California, USA)Black currant, black cherry, cedarMedium to highFull-bodiedRedGrilled steak, roasted lambCabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely recognized grape varieties.
CarignanLanguedoc (France), Priorat (Spain)Blackberry, dried herbs, spiceMediumMediumRedBraised meats, hearty stewsCarignan is a traditional grape variety in the Mediterranean region.
ChardonnayBurgundy (France), Napa Valley (California, USA)Apple, citrus, butterMedium to highFull-bodiedWhiteRoast chicken, creamy pasta dishesChardonnay can be made in a variety of styles, from crisp to buttery.
Chenin BlancLoire Valley (France), South AfricaGreen apple, honey, wet woolHighMedium-bodiedWhiteShellfish, spicy Asian cuisineChenin Blanc is a versatile grape known for its high acidity.
GamayBeaujolais (France), Loire Valley (France)Red berry, banana, violetMedium to highLightRedCharcuterie, roasted chickenGamay is the grape behind Beaujolais Nouveau, a popular young wine.
GewürztraminerAlsace (France), Germany, New ZealandLychee, rose petals, gingerLowMedium-bodiedWhiteSpicy Thai food, Asian fusion dishesGewürztraminer is highly aromatic and floral.
GrenacheRhône Valley (France), Priorat (Spain), McLaren Vale (Australia)Strawberry, raspberry, black pepperMediumMedium-bodiedRedGrilled sausages, Mediterranean cuisineGrenache is a key grape in many Southern Rhône blends.
Gruner-VeltlinerAustriaWhite pepper, green apple, citrusHighLight-bodiedWhiteGrilled asparagus, goat cheeseGrüner Veltliner is Austria’s flagship white grape variety.
MalbecMendoza (Argentina), Cahors (France)Blackberry, plum, cocoaMediumFull-bodiedRedGrilled steak, spicy barbecueMalbec is known for its bold, dark fruit flavors.
MerlotBordeaux (France), Napa Valley (California, USA), Tuscany (Italy)Black cherry, plum, chocolateMediumMedium to full-bodiedRedRoast beef, roasted vegetablesMerlot is often used as a blending grape in Bordeaux wines.
NebbioloPiedmont (Italy), Barolo (Italy), Barbaresco (Italy)Tar, roses, red cherryHighFull-bodiedRedBraised meats, aged cheesesNebbiolo is the grape behind Italy’s prestigious Barolo wines.
Petit VerdotBordeaux (France), AustraliaDark berries, violet, tobaccoMedium to highFull-bodiedRedGrilled lamb, rich stewsPetit Verdot is a grape often used for blending in Bordeaux wines.
Petit SirahCalifornia (USA)Blackberry, blueberry, black pepperMedium to highFull-bodiedRedGrilled meats, hearty stewsPetit Sirah is known for its bold and intense flavors.
Pinot GrigioFriuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy), Alsace (France), Oregon (USA)Citrus, pear, almondHighLight-bodiedWhiteSeafood, light saladsPinot Grigio is a light and refreshing white wine.
Pinot NoirBurgundy (France), Willamette Valley (Oregon, USA), Central Otago (New Zealand)Cherry, raspberry, earthMedium to highLight to medium-bodiedRedGrilled salmon, roasted duckPinot Noir is renowned for its delicate and nuanced flavors.
RieslingMosel (Germany), Alsace (France), Clare Valley (Australia)Green apple, petrol, honeyHighLight to medium-bodiedWhiteSpicy Asian cuisine, Indian curryRiesling can range from bone-dry to lusciously sweet in style.
SangioveseTuscany (Italy), Chianti (Italy), Brunello di Montalcino (Italy)Red cherry, tomato leaf, leatherHighMedium to full-bodiedRedPasta with tomato-based saucesSangiovese is the backbone of many Italian wines, including Chianti.
Sauvignon BlancMarlborough (New Zealand), Loire Valley (France), Napa Valley (California, USA)Grapefruit, passion fruit, grassHighLight to medium-bodiedWhiteGoat cheese, grilled vegetablesSauvignon Blanc is known for its vibrant acidity and refreshing flavors.
Syrah/ShirazRhône Valley (France), Barossa Valley (Australia), Central Coast (California, USA)Blackberry, black pepper, smoked meatMedium to highFull-bodiedRedBarbecue ribs, game meatSyrah and Shiraz are the same grape, known for their richness and spiciness.
TempranilloRioja (Spain), Ribera del Duero (Spain), Toro (Spain)Cherry, leather, tobaccoMediumMedium to full-bodiedRedTapas, roasted lambTempranillo is Spain’s most famous red grape variety.
ViognierRhône Valley (France), Lodi (California, USA)Peach, apricot, white flowersMedium to highMedium-bodiedWhiteGrilled seafood, creamy pastaViognier is known for its aromatic and richly textured white wines.
ZinfandelCalifornia (USA), Apulia (Italy)Blackberry, black pepper, brambleMedium to highFull-bodiedRedGrilled burgers, spicy barbecueZinfandel is known for its rich, jammy fruit flavors.

Other FAQs about Wine Grape Varieties:

What grape varieties are in Bordeaux? Bordeaux wines primarily rely on Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, along with other varieties like Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.

What grape varieties are in Champagne? Champagne production revolves around Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

What grape variety is Burgundy? Burgundy is synonymous with Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for white wines.

What grape variety is Chianti? Chianti’s signature grape variety is Sangiovese, which creates the backbone of its red wines.

Which grape variety makes red wine? Prominent red wine grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Sangiovese.

Which grape variety makes white wine? Popular grape varieties for white wine production include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio.

 

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