Grape Varieties

» Macabeo (White)
Workhorse white grape of N Spain, widespread in Rioja, produces mildly acidic and young white wines for early consumption or blends. Spain, France
» Malbec (Red)
(Cot) Dark, dense and tannic, if it’s made well has wonderful gamey, spicy, black fruit character. Badly made examples are very rustic. Commonly used in Bordeaux blends. France, California, Argentina, Australia, Chile, NZ
» Malvasia (White)
Used to produce dry and sweet white, and light red wines with high alcohol content and residual sugar. Is one of two white wine grapes allowed in Chianti Classico production. Italy
» Marsanne (White)
Principal grape in N Rhône blends. Full-bodied and soft wines that age well. Australia, France, USA
» Mencía (Red)
Light red wine variety widely grown in N W Spain. Early-drinking, usually high in acidity. Tastes of raspberries. Spain
» Merlot (Red)
Often used in blends with Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Varietal – blackcurrants, chocolate, black cherries and pepper, the finest have astonishing finesse, structure and depth. Canada, Chile, France, Italy, NZ, S Africa, USA, Argentina, Australia, Spain
» Montepulciano (Red)
(D’Abruzzo) Usually made into a blend with Sangiovese in order to produce a fruity, round, yet balanced red wine with attractive aroma that reportedly can improve with up to 6 years aging. Also used to produce a popular rosé named ‘Cerasuolo’. Italy
» Morellino (Red)
See Sangiovese
» Moschofilero (White)
Widely grown in the Peloponnese region of S Greece, usually vinified to give a light, aromatic, dry white or pink varietal wine. Greece
» Mourvèdre (Red)
(Mataro) Pungent, rustic and aromatic, bursting with ripe black fruits. Mainly used to introduce color and body to red wine blends. France, Spain, Australia, California
» Müller-Thurgau (White)
Produces a flowery, yet acidic white wine which, if yields are kept low, gives inviting floral, nutmeg aromas and flavours. However most are dreary owing to over-cropping. Germany
» Muscadelle (White)
(Muscadel) Grown in the Gaellac region of France, used in local white sweet wine blend. In Victoria, Australia it’s called Tokay and used for Rutherglen Muscat. France, Australia, S Africa
» Muscadet (White)
(Melon de Bourgogne) Dry, tart wines, light and fresh with distinctive fruit in good vintage. Early drinking. France, California
» Muscat (White)
Has various synonyms (Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat de Frontignan etc). Excellent for dessert and fortified wines, can be used to touch up blends. Australia, Italy, Portugal, S Africa, Spain
» Nebbiolo (Red)
(Spanna/Chiavennasca) One of Italy’s best red grapes making deep, complex, tannic wines. Can have a long life and need a few years to soften before ready to drink. Italy, Australia, Chile
» Negroamaro (Red)
Used to produce the base wine of the “Salice di Salento” and other S Italian red wine blends of good repute and aging potential. Means ‘black bitter’, intense flavours of dark chocolate, black cherry and prunes, slightly bitter aftertaste. Italy
» Nero d’Avola (Red)
A very big wine, becoming very trendy. Used as one of the wines blended into a well-regarded Sicilian red wine with complex aromas capable of aging well. Italy
» Palomino (White)
(Listán) Makes all the best sherry but poor table wine as wine-must has a tendency to oxidise quickly. Spain, S Africa, California, Australia
» Pedro Ximénez (White)
(PX) Widely grown in Spain, used in blending sweet Sherries. Also found in Australia where it is used, along with Palomino, to produce fortified wines. Spain, Australia, Argentina, the Canaries, California, S Africa
» Periquita (Red)
Produces popular, firm-flavoured reds. Portugal
» Petit Verdot (Red)
Mainly grown in Bordeaux (sometimes included in Bordeaux blends), but attracting attention for its gorgeous violet scent. France, Australia
» Petite/Gros Manseng (White)
Used for producing both dry and sweet white wines. France
» Pinot Blanc (White)
Usually makes easy-drinking, fruity, not aromatic dry wines. Similar to, but milder than Chardonnay. Used in many of the better champagne style sparkling wines of California because of its acid content and clean flavour. France, Germany, Italy, California
» Pinot Gris (White)
(Pinot Grigio/Ruländer) Can be light, crisp and spicy, or intense and pungent with a ripe peach character and a whiff of smoke. Oaked or not, sweet or dry. Canada, France, Germany, USA, Argentina, Australia, Italy, NZ
» Pinot Noir (Red)
(Pinot Nero) The premier grape of Burgundy. Difficult to cultivate but creates very elegant wines with finesse. Light in colour, strawberry, raspberry, plum and cherry flavours in youth that mellow to a gamey style with maturity. Canada, Chile, France, Germany, NZ, USA, Australia, Italy, S Africa, Spain
» Pinot Noir (White)
(See Red Grapes) White: Used in Champagne and elsewhere for making white, sparkling, or very pale pink “vin gris”. France
» Pinotage (Red)
Developed in South Africa, this is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (Hermitage). Smooth flavours of bananas and redcurrants in youth, more earthy as it matures and Pinot Noir character emerges. If not well made it can be slightly bitter and jammy. S Africa, NZ
» Primitivo (Red)
Minor variety mainly confined to Apulia in southern Italy where it is used to produce a heavy, robust port like red wine made from raisined grapes. Italy
» Refosco (Red)
Made into what is often considered to be a robust, very intense red wine with moderate complexity that can match the heartiest meal course. Italy
» Riesling (White)
Sweet styles are most common and when young are floral-scented, peachy and appley. But becoming very popular through drier wine style, exhibiting good aging potential. Germany, Australia, France, NZ, S Africa, Canada, Spain, USA
» Roussanne (White)
(Bergeron) Rhône grape, incorporated into white wine blends because of its acidity and aroma. France, California, Australia
» Sagrantino (Red)
Found in Umbria, Italy it produces big, bold wines full of cherries and wood smoke. Italy
» Sangiovese (Red)
(Brunello/Morellino) Produced in Tuscany, Italy. Used to produce Chianti and other Tuscan red wines. Scents of violets, flavours of soft red fruits, plums, earth, tobacco, leather and herbs with a bitter twist and the end. Can be light-bodied and early drinking or powerful and age worthy. Italy, Argentina, Australia, Chile, USA
» Saperavi (Red)
Acidic, capable of high sugar content makes a good, sharp very long-lived wine. In cool climates it’s mostly used as a blending wine. Georgia, Ukraine
» Sauvignon Blanc (White)
Grassiness and gooseberries in temperate regions. In warmer regions, the flavours and aromas tend to be more citrus like. Often green pepper and cat’s pee (lovely!). Pungency varies from country to country. NZ, S Africa, Chile, France, Spain, Australia, Italy
» Scheurebe (White)
Spicy-flavoured, possible cross of Riesling and Silvaner. Full bodied, citrus and tropical fruit. Can be dry or sweet. Austria, Germany
» Sémillon (White)
Distinctive fig-like character. Young – lean, grassy, citrus notes, fig, pear, melon. Aged – lanolin, rich honeyed. Grapes are susceptible to botrytis so it also is used for some of the world’s finest dessert wines. Australia, France, S Africa, USA
» Sercial (White)
Makes the driest Madeira. Portugal
» Seyval Blanc (White)
Attractively fruity, popular in Eastern States and England, banned by EU from “quality” wines.
» Silvaner/Sylvaner (White)
Easy wine with lightly spicy, floral flavours and mild intensity. Once very popular in California, it seems to have fallen victim to changing fashion in recent years and been replaced by (Johannisberg) Riesling. Germany
» Spätburgunder (Red)
See Pinot Noir
» Steen (White)
See Chenin Blanc
» St-Laurent (Red)
Used in Austria to produce a rich-looking red wine with pronounced fruity, flowery aromas. Austria, Canada
» Syrah/Shiraz (Red)
The great Rhône red grape: tannic, purple, peppery wine which matures superbly. Heady aromas of spice, violets, leather, herbs and chewy flavours of wild berries, ripe plums, liquorice, black pepper and chocolate. Australia, France, S Africa, USA, Argentina, Chile, Italy, NZ, Spain
» Tannat (Red)
(Harriaque) Deeply coloured and tannic grown in the Pyrenees region of France. Blended to make the full-bodied red wine known as ‘Madiran’. Also widely grown in Uruguay, S America, where is used to produce a popular varietal wine. France, S America
» Tempranillo (Red)
Fine wine grape used in best quality red wines of Rioja, Spain. Can be light or full-bodied. Becoming very fashionable, elegant in cool climates, beefy in warm. Spain, Argentina, Portugal
» Tocai Friulano (White)
Widely grown in the Fruili region of Italy. Used to produce light bodied white wines with flowery and nut-like flavours, should be drunk when young. Italy
» Torrontés (White)
Fragrant grape widely grown in Argentina, mainly used in the production of S American fortified Brandy and as a dry table wine with good acid content. S America
» Touriga Nacional (Red)
Regarded as the premier grape for use in fortified Port wines. Great for blending, complex aromas and flavours. Portugal, California, S America, S Africa
» Trebbiano (White)
(Ugni Blanc) Widely grown in Italy and S France, produces a fruity, acidic white wine, best drunk when young and chilled. Used to bolster blends. Italy, France
» Trincadeira (Red)
Grown in the Alentejo region of Portugal and used to make a somewhat spicy varietal wine. Portugal
» Verdejo (White)
Extensive plantings in Rueda, Spain. Can make good wines capable of aging well. Spain
» Verdelho (White)
Madeira grape making excellent medium-sweet wine, and rich dry wine. Australia, Portugal, Spain
» Verdicchio (White)
(Verdeca) Grown in the Italian provinces of Apulia, for use in a local dry, fruity blend. Italy
» Vermentino (White)
Early drinking, full-bodied, dry white wines that go well with seafood. France, Italy
» Viognier (White)
Graceful and elegant, usually apricots, peach and almonds. Can vary from Riesling-like to almost Chardonnay character, depending on production method. Not noted for aging ability and is best drunk while young. France, S Africa, Argentina, Australia, Chile, USA
» Zinfandel (Red)
Noted for the fruit-laden, berry-like aroma and prickly taste characteristics in its red version and pleasant strawberry reminders when made into a ‘blush’ wine. Italy, USA, Australia, Chile, S Africa