Grape Varieties

» Agiorgitiko (Red)
(St George) Red-wine grape native to Greece. Used to produce intense, fruity wine in dry and sweet versions. Also blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to create a wine capable of aging well.
» Aglianico (Red)
Underrated, lots of weighty, berry flavours. The grape is also used to make good bronze-coloured rosé-style wine. Italy
» Albariño (White)
(Alvarinho) Used to create a serious varietal wine with pleasant citrus fruit aroma. Fashionable and expensive in Spain. Portugal, Spain
» Aligoté (White)
Burgundy’s second-rank white grape. Used to make a superior white wine, with little or no aging ability and best drunk young, for blending or as a good dry wine in the better vintage. France, E Europe, N America
» Arinto (White)
Naturally high acidity, therefore always lemony-fresh and tangy. Used in the production of Portugal’s ‘vinho-verde’ wines. Portugal
» Arneis (White)
Aromatic, high-priced grape, lacking sufficient acidity to age well. Italy, Australia
» Baga (Red)
(Tinta Bairrada) Produces acidic, fruit-packed, tannic wines capable of aging well. Portugal
» Barbera (Red)
Usually produces an intense red wine with deep colour, low tannins and high acid. At its best in Piedmont, used in California to provide ‘backbone’ for so-called ‘jug’ wines. Italy, California, Australia, Argentina
» Bical (White)
Grown in the Beiras district of Portugal, a crisp, mildly aromatic varietal but most often is used in sparkling wine blends. Portugal
» Blaufränkisch (Red)
Mainly grown in Austria to produce dry, fruity red wines, at best a considerable red. Austria, Germany, Hungary
» Bonarda (Red)
Cherry-jam flavours, easy drinking. Argentina, Italy
» Bourboulenc (White)
Makes some of the Midi’s (S Rhône) best wines, creates acidic balance in blends. France
» Brachetto (Red)
Used to make spritzy, light red dessert wines with fruity, strawberry aroma. Best when young and served chilled. Italy
» Brunello (Red)
See Sangiovese
» Bual (White)
Makes top-quality sweet Madeira wines. Portugal
» Cabernet Franc (Red)
(Bouchet) Wine from these grapes has a deep purple color, when young, with a herbaceous aroma. Traditionally used in Bordeaux-style blends, but increasingly bottled as a varietal. France, S Africa, Australia, USA
» Cabernet Sauvignon (Red)
Main constituent of a Bordeaux blend. Can provide super-premium wines – rich, full and complex and capable of long ageing. Flavours of blackcurrant, cherry, chocolate, black pepper. Australia, France, Italy, NZ, S Africa, Argentina, Chile, USA
» Cannonau (Red)
See Grenache
» Carignan (Red)
Dull but harmless red wines. Used in California’s blends and ‘jug’ wines. Some old plantings allow small lots of premium extract wine to be made. France, Spain, California, N Africa
» Carmènere (Red)
Similar to Merlot, but spicier and more savoury. Chile
» Chardonnay (White)
Burgundy and Champagne grape. Fruity character; barrel-influenced flavours of oak/vanilla; creamy, buttery components from malolactic fermentation. Hugely successful in many regions due to its mid-season ripening and versatility. Mostly bottled in S Africa as varietal. France, Australia, S Africa, NZ, USA, Spain, Italy
» Chasselas (White)
(Fendant/Gutedel) Little aroma, mainly grown for eating. NZ use it for popular sweet wines. Switzerland, Germany, France, NZ
» Chenin Blanc (White)
(Steen) Makes crisp, fresh dry wines and rich, honeyed sweet wines. In warm regions notes of melon, fig, pear and guava. S Africa, France, Argentina, Spain
» Cinsaut (Red)
(Cinsault) Used as blend component in many red or rosé wines. Crossed with Pinot to make Pinotage. Pale wine but quality potential. France, Italy, South Africa, Australia
» Clairette (White)
A low-acid grape, part of many S France blends. Used with Muscat grape to create dry/off-dry sparkling. Best known product: “Clairette de Die”, comes from the E Rhone region of France. France, Australia
» Colombar (White)
(Colombard) Widely grown in S Africa. Fruity, high acidity, interesting in both dry and sweet versions. Used for Californian jug wine; certain Bordeaux and Gascony AOC’s and for distilling into brandy. S Africa, California, France, N America
» Dolcetto (Red)
Usually made into fast maturing, fruity and robust dark red wine with faintly bitter flavour, everyday wines that have become fashionable. Italy
» Dornfelder (Red)
Usually succulent, fruity, early-drinking reds although it is increasingly available as a bottled varietal with aging potential. Germany
» Favorita (White)
(Favorito) Plantings are increasing. Top wines are citrussy and mountain fresh, mainly used in white blends. Italy
» Fernão Pires (White)
Used to make aromatic and somewhat spicy-tasting dry, sweet and sparkling wines. Portugal
» Fiano (White)
Makes balanced, elegant white wine with attractive nut-like hints in the aroma. Very sturdy and long-lived, it makes peachy, spicy wine in Campania. Italy
» Folle Blanche (White)
High acid/little flavour makes this ideal for brandy. W Loire use to produce an often light, sharply acidic wine called “Gros Plant du Pays Nantais”. France, California
» Furmint (White)
Widely grown in Hungary and used to make the ultra-sweet “Tokay” wines. Hungary, Austria, Slovenia
» Gaglioppo (Red)
Excellent, robust wines, best un-oaked. Italy
» Gamay (Red)
Predominant grape of Beaujolais. Light-bodied, juicy upfront flavours of red cherries, bananas, plums and bubble gum. Made for early drinking. France
» Garganega (White)
Gives Italy’s Soave blend its personality. Is also a major portion of the popular “Gambellara” blend; top wines, especially sweet ones age well. Italy
» Gewürztraminer (White)
Pungent, rich and soft wines, spicy aromas and flavours of lychees, nuts, ginger, roses, melon. Usually dry wines but made in sweeter styles in S Africa. France, Germany, Australia, Italy, NZ, Spain (minimal plantings in S Africa)
» Grecanico Dorato (White)
Becoming more popular. Grassy and pungent; similar to Sauvignon Blanc. Italy
» Grechetto/Greco (White)
Ancient grape of Italy, noted for the vitality and stylishness of its wines. Italy
» Grenache (Red)
(Alicante/Cannonau) Often used in Rhone-style blends but good on its own. Produces strong, fruity but pale wines with black and red fruits, smoke, nuts, chocolate, leather, mud and coffee. Australia, France, Spain, Italy, California
» Grignolino (Red)
Commonly grown in the Piedmont region. Makes good table wines – light red colour wine with very fruity aroma and strong acid/tannins. Italy
» Grüner Veltliner (White)
Predominant grape in Austria. Light, dry and peppery, excellent young but has very good aging potential (up to 15 years) when made from the finest vintage year grapes. Austria
» Hárslevelü (White)
Adds softness and body to Tokay blend. Hungary
» Kadarka (Red)
(Gamza in Bulgaria) Used to make ‘Egri Bikaver’, Hungary’s best-known dry red wine blend. Hungary, Bulgaria
» Kékfrankos (Red)
See Blaufränkisch
» Kéknyelü (White)
Flavourful grape, one of Hungary’s best whites, has potential for fieriness and spice. Hungary
» Kerner (White)
(Schiava Grossa) Used to produce a Riesling-like white wine. Early-ripening flowery (but often too blatant) wine with good acidity. Italy
» Lagrein (Red)
Used to make varietal and rosé wines of good character – full-bodied and velvety, reds have sour black cherries, unripe plums and dark chocolate. Italy
» Lambrusco (Red)
Produces a number of wine styles – dry or off-dry wines or cheerful sweet and fizzy red. Italy
» Lemberger (Red)
See Blaufränkisch