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Home Food Wine Grapes Explained: 9 Must Know Essentials

Wine Grapes Explained: 9 Must Know Essentials

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Wines are and have always been a favorite drink among people all around the globe. The magic drink coming from grapes has become the ideal drink for many occasions, whether big or small. Whether you consider yourself a wine connoisseur or you are just beginning to experiment with the drink, the sheer variety of grapes can leave you baffled. Are you wondering what are the kinds of grapes that are used for making wines? If yes, then you are in for a treat. Here are the 9 wine grapes that you must know about.

Wine Grapes That You Should Know:

Grapes have been grown and cultivated for over a thousand years. There are more than 10,000 types of grapes present in the Vitaceae family, and 1,300 of them go into making wines.

If you plan to learn the basics of wine and grapes that go into making it, the following are the most prominent ones:

1. Pinot Noir (Red)

Often touted as the wine of the kings, Pinot Noir is the finest variety of the drink. The Pinot Noir grapes are native to the areas with a cooler climate, majorly coming from the Burgundy region of France. It is a difficult variety of grapes to cultivate and make wine with, but the taste makes it worth the effort. Wine from the young grapes has fruity aromas of cherries, strawberries, and raspberries. As Pinot Noir ages, it tends to develop a barnyard aroma that adds to the complexity. If you enjoy the fruity and spicy flavors in your drink, you can also try Southern Comfort, a famous liqueur.

2. Riesling (White)

The grape behind the most famous white wines is Riesling. Originating from the Rhine region of Germany, it is a very aromatic grape. You can often find a variety of flowery aromas and high acidity, which form a backbone for extensive aging. Riesling tends to taste on the sweeter side, with hints of lime, honey, and even elderflower. It goes into making dry, sweet or semi-sweet, and sparkling white wine. The wine complements the Asian and Australian food really well.

3. Merlot (Red)

Experts believe that Merlot gets its name from ‘Merle,’ French name for the blackbird. Also called as the homogenized milk of the reds, the grapes grow in the Bordeaux region of France. It is bright red in color and you can taste hints of dark cherry, chocolate, blueberry, and even coffee. The Merlot grapes produce medium-bodied wine, which has a moderate alcohol level, vegetal note, and red fruit flavors. Red wine like Merlot can also be good for your health. You can enjoy this wine along with Chinese food.

4. Chardonnay (White)

If we are talking about wine grapes, the list cannot be complete without mentioning Chardonnay. It is a green-skinned grape that manufacturers use to make white wine and a series of sparkling wines. Chardonnay is a neutral grape, which gets influenced by the landscape and geology of the area where it grows. This grape may have a buttery texture, with flavors of ripe fruits and herbs. If you enjoy chicken or fish, you can pair it up with Chardonnay.

Chardonnay
via: Image Source

5. Cabernet Sauvignon (Red)

The quintessential wine grape is Cabernet Sauvignon. It originated in the 17th century in the Bordeaux region as a chance crossing between two infamous grapes – Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Today it has become the most widely planted variety of grapes. While people often confuse it with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon is a heavy wine that contains more tannins. It gets better with age in terms of taste and texture. With this grape, you can enjoy flavors like plum, black currant, cedar, and even mint. The wine can be the perfect companion for your roasted or grilled beef.

6. Sauvignon Blanc (White)

Hailing from the Loire Valley of France, the grape Sauvignon Blanc goes into the making of infamous wines like Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre. It can be grown even outside France in Chile, California, and New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc is famous for producing dry, crisp, and refreshing white wine. The flavor of the grapes can depend significantly on the climate. The taste can range from fresh-cut grass in France to sweet tropical flavors in warmer areas of the world. It is one of the very few wines that can complement sushi. If you serve it chilled, it can also go well with fish and cheese.

 7. Shiraz/ Syrah (Red)

Shiraz, also known as Syrah, is a popular dark-skinned grape that is used primarily to make the darkest red wines. In moderate climates like Rhone Valley and Washington State, it tends to produce grapes that are medium to full-bodied wine that can contain a higher level of tannins. It can have hints of mint, black pepper, and even blackberry. When grown in hot climates of McLaren Vale, Crete, and Barossa Valley of Australia, it can be full-bodied with more consistency and softer tannins. It may have a spicy taste with hints of licorice, earthy leather, and star anise. Black pudding, streak, and lamb can find a perfect companion in a bottle of Shiraz.

8. Viognier (White)

Viognier is a white wine grape that is native to the Rhone Valley of France, but it is also grown in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and South Africa. It has the potential to give you full-bodied wine that has a soft texture. Viognier contains natural aromatics like pears, peaches, violets, and minerality.  You can smell hints of lavender, thyme, chamomile, and even pine. The wine can be good both with and without maturing in the oak. Most people prefer to open it relatively earlier than the rest. Over time, the sugar level in the grapes can shoot through the roof, giving you a sticky late harvest. Grilled salmon and potatoes or cashew nut salad can be ideally paired with Viognier wine.

9. Pinot Grigio (White)

Pinot Grigio is the Italian name given to the grape Pinot Gris. It has become a recent favorite now in New Zealand and Argentina, and also it’s home in Italy and Alsace. The grape is blue or grey in color and often referred to as the clone of Pinot Noir. It can turn pink as the grapes mature and can be golden when they become ripe. The taste of the wine can contain tropical and fruity notes of mango or melon. Pinot Grigio is generally used to make light-bodied and dry white wines that have high acidity. You can find hints of green apples, lime, and lemon in the wine. It goes well with chicken or salads and also chili prawns.

Pinot Grigio
via: Image Source

Final Thoughts

The world of wine grapes can be vast and daunting. It is only with experience and exposure to all kinds of grapes and wines that can help you get familiar with them. While it may take you quite some time to get acquainted with the different varieties, you can start by trying the wine grapes mentioned above. Get ready to explore the world of wine grapes and enjoy the delicious flavors.

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Reference links:

https://frontierfinewines.co.uk/grapes-explained/

https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/wine-grapes-explained-guide-to-foods-flavours-and-types

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/lifestyle/columnist/howell/2015/09/01/6-most-important-wine-grapes-explained/71519978/



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Surjeet
A writer can take you back to the old, build new and take you places with this motto and passion I started a journey of Gudstory. I tried to communicate my thoughts and happenings around the world to you. Being business owner by profession and writer by passion.
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