Is an alcoholic drink typically made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol, carbon dioxide, and heat. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine. These variations result from the complex interactions between the biochemical development of the grape, the reactions involved in fermentation, the grape's growing environment (terroir), and the production process. Many countries enact legal appellations intended to define styles and qualities of wine. These typically restrict the geographical origin and permitted varieties of grapes, as well as other aspects of wine production.
Wine has been produced for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of wine is from Georgia (6000 BC), Iran (5000 BC), and Sicily (4000 BC). In modern times, the five countries with the largest wine-producing regions are in Italy, Spain, France, the United States, and China.
The red-wine production process involves extraction of colour and flavour components from the grape skin. Red wine is made from dark-coloured grape varieties. The actual colour of the wine can range from violet, typical of young wines, through red for mature wines, to brown for older red wines. The juice from most purple grapes is actually greenish-white, the red colour comes from anthocyan pigments (also called anthocyanins) present in the skin of the grape, exceptions are the relatively uncommon teinturier varieties, which actually have red flesh and produce red juice. Few examples: Alicante Bouschet, Saperavi, Chambourcin.
Fermentation of the non-coloured grape pulp produces white wine. The grapes from which white wine is produced are typically green or yellow. Dark-skinned grapes may be used to produce white wine if the wine-maker is careful not to let the skin stain the wort during the separation of the pulp-juice. Pinot noir, for example, is commonly used to produce champagne.
Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it, making it fizzy. While the phrase commonly refers to champagne, EU countries legally reserve that term for products exclusively produced in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine is usually either white or rosé, but there are examples of red sparkling wines such as the Italian Brachetto, Bonarda and Lambrusco, Australian sparkling Shiraz, and Azerbaijani "Pearl of Azerbaijan" made from Madrasa grapes. The sweetness of sparkling wine can range from very dry brut styles to sweeter doux varieties (French for 'raw' and 'sweet', respectively).
A rosé wine incorporates some of the colour from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. It may be the oldest known type of wine, as it is the most straightforward to make with the skin contact method. The pink colour can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the varietals used and wine-making techniques. There are three primary ways to produce rosé wine: skin contact (allowing dark grape skins to stain the wort), saignée (removing juice from the must early in fermentation and continuing fermentation of the juice separately), and blending (uncommon and discouraged in most wine growing regions). Rosé wines can be made still, semi-sparkling, or sparkling, with a wide range of sweetness levels from dry Provençal rosé to sweet White Zinfandels and blushes. Rosé wines are made from a wide variety of grapes all over the world.
Sweet wine has a high sugar content. The sugar in the wine may be what is left in the wine after the fermentation has finished, for example in Sauternes, or it may have been added in sufficient quantity to produce a sweet wine. This is called Chaptalization and named after Dr Chaptal who developed this process, which is used to increase the sugar content prior to fermentation so that the higher alcoholic level can be reached. Another method is to add grape spirit (grape brandy) to unfermented must to produce Vin de Liquer or Mistelle. In Germany unfermented grape juice known as Süssreserve may be added which also adds a fresh fruit character to the wine.
Fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added. Many different styles of fortified wine have been developed, including Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Commandaria wine, and the aromatised wine vermouth.
Wines from other fruits, such as apples and berries, are usually named after the fruit from which they are produced combined with the word "wine" (for example, apple wine and elderberry wine) and are generically called fruit wine or country wine. Other than the grape varieties traditionally used for wine-making, most fruits naturally lack either sufficient fermentable sugars, relatively low acidity, yeast nutrients needed to promote or maintain fermentation, or a combination of these three characteristics. This is probably one of the main reasons why wine derived from grapes has historically been more prevalent by far than other types, and why specific types of fruit wine have generally been confined to regions in which the fruits were native or introduced for other reasons.
Mead, also called honey wine, is created by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with various fruits, spices, grains, or hops. As long as the primary substance fermented is honey, the drink is considered mead. Mead was produced in ancient history throughout Europe, Africa and Asia, and was known in Europe before grape wine.
Starch-based "wine" and wine-based products:
Other drinks called "wine", such as barley wine and rice wine (e.g. sake), are made from starch-based materials and resemble beer more than traditional wine, while ginger wine is fortified with brandy. In these latter cases, the term "wine" refers to the similarity in alcohol content rather than to the production process. The commercial use of the English word "wine" (and its equivalent in other languages) is protected by law in many jurisdictions.
Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) or wine growing is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, ranges from Western Europe to the Persian shores of the Caspian Sea, the vine has demonstrated high levels of adaptability to new environments, hence viticulture can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
Duties of the viticulturist include monitoring and controlling pests and diseases, fertilizing, irrigation, canopy management, monitoring fruit development and characteristics, deciding when to harvest, and vine pruning during the winter months. Viticulturists are often intimately involved with winemakers, because vineyard management and the resulting grape characteristics provide the basis from which winemaking can begin.
he earliest evidence of grape vine cultivation and winemaking dates back 6000 years. The history of viticulture is closely related to the history of wine, with evidence that humans cultivated wild grapes to make wine as far back as the Neolithic period. Evidence suggests that some of the earliest domestication of Vitis vinifera occurred in the area of the modern countries Georgia and Armenia. The oldest-known winery was discovered in the "Areni-1" cave in Vayots Dzor, Armenia. Dated to c. 4100 BC, the site contained a wine press, fermentation vats, jars, and cups.
In Greek mythology, the demigod Dionysus (Bacchus in Roman mythology), son of Zeus, invented the grapevine and the winepress. When his closest satyr friend died trying to bring him a vine, Dionysus deemed it important. Dionysus forced the vine to bear fruit. His fame spread, and he finally became a god.
The vast majority of the world's wine-producing regions are found between the temperate latitudes of 30° and 50° in each hemisphere. Within these bands, the annual mean temperatures are between 10 and 20 °C (50 and 68 °F). The presence of large bodies of water and mountain ranges can have positive effects on the climate and vines. Nearby lakes and rivers can serve as protection for drastic temperature drops at night by releasing the heat that the water has stored during the day to warm the vines.
The grape is classified as a berry. On the vine, grapes are organized through systems known as clusters. Grape clusters can vary in compactness which can result in long clusters (resulting in the grapes spreading out) or short clusters (resulting in grapes packed together). In some grape species, clusters ripen collectively which allow them to be harvested together. For others, grapes may ripen individually within a cluster. Each grape berry contains a pedicel which attaches to the rachis. The main function of the rachis is to allow the grapes to receive their water and nutrients. The pollination and fertilization of grapes results in one to four seeds within each berry. When fertilization does not occur, seedless grapes are formed, which are sought after for the production of raisins. Regardless of pollination and fertilization, most plants will produce around 100 to 200 grapes. The skin of the grape accounts for 5 to 20% of the total weight of a grape depending on the variety. When grape skin ripens, it contains the majority of the aromatic substances and tannin. These factors become important in winemaking for methods including colour extraction or aroma dissolution. Although the skin contains the majority of the tannin, small percentages can be found throughout the grape and during all of its developmental stages. However, the tannin's most important role is during the grape's ripening stage as its function is to formulate colour and body shape.
Although many factors can affect the overall quality of a grape vine, the three most important are climate, slope, and soil, often collectively referred to as the terroir.
Climate is the most significant external factor in determining a grape's inherent qualities. Each grape variety has a uniquely preferred environment for ideal growing. Because climates vary from region to region, selecting the best strain is an important decision in grape cultivation. Additionally, because climatic factors such as temperature and rain can be unpredictable and uncontrollable, each year will produce unique qualities and yields of grapes.
Wine grapes are also especially susceptible to climate change and temperature variation. Grape vines need approximately 1300–1500 hours of sunshine during the growing season and around 690 millimetres (27 in) of rainfall throughout the year in order to produce grapes suitable for winemaking. In ideal circumstances, the vine will receive most of the rainfall during the winter and spring months: rain at harvest time can create many hazards, such as fungal diseases and berry splitting.
The optimum weather during the growing season is a long, warm summer that allows the grapes the opportunity to ripen fully and to develop a balance between the levels of acids and sugars in the grape. Hot and sunny climates have a frost-free growing season of 200 days or more. These climates allow grapes to ripen faster with higher sugar levels and lower acidity. Cooler climates have a frost-free growing season of around 150–160 days. Cooler seasons force the grapes to ripen earlier which produces a fresher and more acidic harvest. In general, the average yearly temperature for most crops should average around 15 °C (59 °F) in order for the highest quality to be achieved in each grape.
Hillsides and slopes are preferred over flatter terrain: vines growing on a slope can receive a greater intensity of the sun's rays, with sunshine falling on an angle perpendicular to the hillside. In flatter terrain, the intensity of the sunlight is diluted as it spreads out across a wider surface area. Small slopes that are elevated above surrounding ground are the best and safest places for crops, because these small elevations are less prone to frost. Additionally, a slope affords better drainage, obviating the possibility that the vine might sit in overly moist soil. In cooler regions of the northern hemisphere, south-facing slopes receive more hours of sunlight and are preferred; in warmer climes, north-facing slopes are preferred. In the southern hemisphere, these orientations are reversed.
Quality soil is important to allow plants to have better root systems. The growth and health of a vine can be affected if the soil quality is poor. Different grape species prefer various soil conditions, although there are general quality factors. Favourable soil conditions include: aeration, loose texture, good drainage and moderate fertility. Drainage factors are cited as the most important soil characteristic to affect grape vine growth. When root growth is restricted due to bad soil, vine growth and fruit yields lessen and plant survival rates can dip to only a few years.
Huge parts of viticulture are hazards, diseases and pests. A viticulturist faces many hazards that can have an adverse effect on the wine produced from the grape or kill the vine itself. Here are a few examples without being exhaustive.
When the vine is flowering, it is very susceptible to strong winds and hail. Cold temperatures during this period can lead to the onset of millerandage, which produces clusters with no seeds and varying sizes. Hot conditions can produce coulure that causes grape clusters to either drop to the ground or not fully develop.
Oidium is a powdery mildew that can attack all green parts of the vine. If left untreated, oidium can be terminal for the plant. It thrives in cooler temperatures and in the shade. Some North American vine species have evolved to show resistance to the mildew.
Downy mildew (Peronospora) thrives in high temperatures and humidity and produces stains on leaves. It can be treated by spraying plants with copper sulphate. Most American vines are resistant, excluding Vitis vinifera.
Fanleaf virus is spread by nematodes that breed in the vine stem. It can lead to deformity, yellowing of leaves, and smaller crop yields. There is no cure for the plant, the best course of action is to remove infected plants and leave the remaining roots to rot.
Frost. One of the biggest enemies of a vine grower. There are few methods to tackle frost. Here are the most common ones. Fire; using bougies or large paraffin candles which give off enough heat to create air movement which prevents a frost pocket forming. Fans; Using fans and wind machines to keep the air moving also helps to prevent frost. Sprinklers; Known as an aspersion system is to spray the vines with water. The cold air will freeze the water, forming a coating of ice. The ice remains at freezing point, protecting the vines from cold air.
Phylloxera vastatrix. This is a small aphid-like bug which originated in the USA and devastated the vineyards of Europe and the rest of the world other than the USA, whose generic vines were resistant. It was first recorded in Europe in 1863. It attacks the roots of the vine and kills vitis vinifera vines. The remedy was to graft vitis vinifera cutting and buds onto American rootstocks. Phylloxera has never reached Chile. This is thought to be due to the Andes Mountains in the east of the country and the Pacific Ocean on the west side.
Vinification or Winemaking is the production of wine, starting with the selection of the fruit, its fermentation into alcohol, and the bottling of the finished liquid. The history of wine-making stretches over millennia. The science of wine and winemaking is known as oenology. A winemaker may also be called a vintner. The growing of grapes is viticulture and there are many varieties of grapes.
There are five basic stages to the wine making process which begins with harvesting or picking. After the harvest, the grapes are taken into a winery and prepared for primary ferment. At this stage red wine making diverges from white wine making. Red wine is made from the must (pulp) of red or black grapes and fermentation occurs together with the grape skins, which give the wine its colour. White wine is made by fermenting juice which is made by pressing crushed grapes to extract a juice, the skins are removed and play no further role. Occasionally white wine is made from red grapes, this is done by extracting their juice with minimal contact with the grapes' skins. Rosé wines are either made from red grapes where the juice is allowed to stay in contact with the dark skins long enough to pick up a pinkish colour (maceration or saignée), or (less commonly) by blending red wine with white wine. White and rosé wines extract little of the tannins contained in the skins.
To start primary fermentation yeast may be added to the must for red wine or may occur naturally as ambient yeast on the grapes or in the air. Yeast may be added to the juice for white wine. During this fermentation, which often takes between one and two weeks, the yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape juice into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is lost to the atmosphere.
After the primary fermentation of red grapes the free run wine is pumped off into tanks and the skins are pressed to extract the remaining juice and wine. The press wine is blended with the free run wine at the winemaker's discretion. The wine is kept warm and the remaining sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide.
The next process in the making of red wine is malo-lactic conversion. This is a bacterial process which converts "crisp, green apple" malic acid to "soft, creamy" lactic acid softening the taste of the wine. Red wine is sometimes transferred to oak barrels to mature for a period of weeks or months; this practice imparts oak aromas and some tannin to the wine. The wine must be settled or clarified and adjustments made prior to bottling.
The time from harvest to drinking can vary from a few months for Beaujolais nouveau wines to over twenty years for wine of good structure with high levels of acid, tannin or sugar. However, only about 10% of all red and 5% of white wine will taste better after five years than it will after just one year. Depending on the quality of grape and the target wine style, some of these steps may be combined or omitted to achieve the particular goals of the winemaker. Many wines of comparable quality are produced using similar but distinctly different approaches to their production, quality is dictated by the attributes of the starting material and not necessarily the steps taken during vinification.
Variations on the above procedure exist. With sparkling wines such as Champagne, an additional, "secondary" fermentation takes place inside the bottle, dissolving trapped carbon dioxide in the wine and creating the characteristic bubbles. Sweet wines or off-dry wines are made by arresting fermentation before all sugar has been converted into ethanol and allowing some residual sugar to remain. This can be done by chilling the wine and adding sulphur and other allowable additives to inhibit yeast activity or sterile filtering the wine to remove all yeast and bacteria. In the case of sweet wines, initial sugar concentrations are increased by harvesting late (late harvest wine), freezing the grapes to concentrate the sugar (ice wine), allowing or encouraging botrytis cinerea fungus to dehydrate the grapes or allowing the grapes to raisin either on the vine or on racks or straw mats. Often in these high sugar wines, the fermentation stops naturally as the high concentration of sugar and rising concentration of ethanol retard the yeast activity. Similarly in fortified wines, such as port wine, high proof neutral grape spirit (brandy) is added to arrest the ferment and adjust the alcohol content when the desired sugar level has been reached. In other cases the winemaker may choose to hold back some of the sweet grape juice and add it to the wine after the fermentation is done, a technique known in Germany as süssreserve.
The quality of the grapes determines the quality of the wine more than any other factor. Grape quality is affected by variety as well as weather during the growing season, soil minerals and acidity, time of harvest, and pruning method. The combination of these effects is often referred to as the grape's terroir.
Grapes are usually harvested from the vineyard from early September until early November in the northern hemisphere, and mid February until early March in the southern hemisphere. In some cool areas in the southern hemisphere, for example Tasmania, harvesting extends into May.
The most common species of wine grape is Vitis vinifera, which includes nearly all varieties of European origin.
Harvest is the picking of the grapes and in many ways the first step in wine production. Grapes are either harvested mechanically or by hand. The decision to harvest grapes is typically made by the winemaker and informed by the level of sugar, acid and pH of the grapes. Other considerations include phenological ripeness, berry flavour, tannin development (seed colour and taste). Overall disposition of the grapevine and weather forecasts are taken into account.
Crushing is the process when gently squeezing the berries and breaking the skins to start to liberate the contents of the berries. Destemming is the process of removing the grapes from the rachis (the stem which holds the grapes). In traditional and smaller-scale wine making, the harvested grapes are sometimes crushed by trampling them barefoot or by the use of inexpensive small scale crushers. The decision about destemming is different for red and white wine making. Generally when making white wine the fruit is only crushed, the stems are then placed in the press with the berries. The presence of stems in the mix facilitates pressing by allowing juice to flow past flattened skins. These accumulate at the edge of the press. For red winemaking, stems of the grapes are usually removed before fermentation since the stems have a relatively high tannin content, in addition to tannin they can also give the wine a vegetal aroma.
White wine: Most white wines are processed without destemming or crushing and are transferred from picking bins directly to the press. This is to avoid any extraction of tannin from either the skins or grape seeds, as well as maintaining proper juice flow through a matrix of grape clusters rather than loose berries. In some circumstances winemakers choose to crush white grapes for a short period of skin contact, usually for three to 24 hours.
Red wine: Most red wines derive their colour from grape skins (the exception teinturier varieties or hybrids of non-vinifera vines) and therefore contact between the juice and skins is essential for colour extraction. Red wines are produced by destemming and crushing the grapes into a tank and leaving the skins in contact with the juice throughout the fermentation (maceration). It is possible to produce white (colourless) wines from red grapes by the fastidious pressing of uncrushed fruit. This minimises contact between grape juice and skins (as in the making of Blanc de noirs sparkling wine, which is derived from Pinot noir, a red vinifera grape.)
Rose wine: In the case of rosé wines, the fruit is crushed and the dark skins are left in contact with the juice just long enough to extract the colour that the winemaker desires. The must is then pressed, and fermentation continues as if the winemaker was making a white wine.
Fermentation: During the primary fermentation, the yeast cells feed on the sugars in the must and multiply, producing carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The temperature during the fermentation affects both the taste of the end product, as well as the speed of the fermentation. For red wines, the temperature is typically 22 to 25 °C, and for white wines 15 to 18 °C. For every gram of sugar that is converted, about half a gram of alcohol is produced, so to achieve a 12% alcohol concentration, the must should contain about 24% sugars. Alcohol of more than 12% can be achieved by using yeast that can withstand high alcohol. Some yeasts can produce 18% alcohol in the wine however extra sugar is added to produce a high alcohol content. During or after the alcoholic fermentation, a secondary, or malolactic fermentation can also take place, during which specific strains of bacteria (lactobacter) convert malic acid into the milder lactic acid.
Pressing: Pressing is the act of applying pressure to grapes or pomace in order to separate juice or wine from grapes and grape skins. Pressing is not always a necessary act in winemaking; if grapes are crushed there is a considerable amount of juice immediately liberated (called free-run juice) that can be used for vinification. Typically this free-run juice is of a higher quality than the press juice.
Cold stabilisation: Cold stabilisation is a process used in winemaking to reduce tartrate crystals (generally potassium bitartrate) in wine. These tartrate crystals look like grains of clear sand, and are also known as "wine crystals" or "wine diamonds". They are formed by the union of tartaric acid and potassium, and may appear to be (sediment) in the wine, though they are not. During the cold stabilising process after fermentation, the temperature of the wine is dropped to close to freezing for 1–2 weeks. This will cause the crystals to separate from the wine and stick to the sides of the holding vessel. When the wine is drained from the vessels, the tartrates are left behind. They may also form in wine bottles that have been stored under very cold conditions.
Secondary (malolactic) fermentation: During the secondary fermentation and ageing process, which takes three to six months, the fermentation continues very slowly. The wine is kept under an airlock to protect the wine from oxidation. Proteins from the grape are broken down and the remaining yeast cells and other fine particles from the grapes are allowed to settle. The secondary fermentation usually takes place in large stainless steel vessels with a volume of several cubic meters, oak barrels or glass demijohns (also referred to as carboys), depending on the goals of the winemakers. Unoaked wine is fermented in a barrel made of stainless steel or other material having no influence in the final taste of the wine. Depending on the desired taste, it could be fermented mainly in stainless steel to be briefly put in oak, or have the complete fermentation done in stainless steel. Oak could be added as chips used with a non-wooden barrel instead of a fully wooden barrel. This process is mainly used in cheaper wine.
Preservatives: The most common preservative used in winemaking is sulphur dioxide (SO2). It has two primary actions, firstly it is an anti microbial agent and secondly an anti oxidant. In the making of white wine it can be added prior to fermentation and immediately after alcoholic fermentation is complete. If added after alcoholic fermentation it will have the effect of preventing or stopping malolactic fermentation, bacterial spoilage and help protect against the damaging effects of oxygen. In the making of red wine, sulphur dioxide may be used at high levels prior to ferment to assist in colour stabilisation. Otherwise, it is used at the end of malolactic ferment and performs the same functions as in white wine. Without the use of sulphur dioxide, wines can readily suffer bacterial spoilage no matter how hygienic the winemaking practice!
Filtration in winemaking is used to accomplish two objectives, clarification and microbial stabilisation. In clarification, large particles that affect the visual appearance of the wine are removed. In microbial stabilisation, organisms that affect the stability of the wine are removed therefore reducing the likelihood of re-fermentation or spoilage.
Bottling: A final dose of sulphite is added to help preserve the wine and prevent unwanted fermentation in the bottle. The wine bottles then are traditionally sealed with a cork, although alternative wine closures such as synthetic corks and screw caps, which are less subject to cork taint, are becoming increasingly popular.
Grapes and sensory evaluation
Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, Central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran. There are currently between 5,000 and 10,000 varieties of Vitis vinifera grapes though only a few are of commercial significance for wine and table grape production.
It should be noted that in EU countries all wines sold under a single varietal must contain a minimum of 85% of this grape. In the USA and many other New World countries, the minimum is 75%.
The following is intended to be an introductory guide to the general characteristics of the most important grapes in the world of wine:
Albarino: Albariño is a variety of white wine grapes grown in Galicia. In Portugal it is known as Alvarinho. The grape is noted for its distinctive botanical aroma, suggesting apricot and peach. The wine produced is unusually light, and generally high in acidity.
Chardonnay is probably the most popular varietal white wine and is grown extensively throughout wine-growing countries of the world in cool, warm and hot climates. It thrives particularly well on soils rich in calcium. The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavours. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Carneros AVA of California), Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand), the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations (such as the Central Coast AVA of California), more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavours with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes. Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy.
Chenin Blanc: It grows extensively in the middle Loire regions of Anjou and Touraine where it is renowned for producing Vouvray, Saumur and Savennieres. The varietal can be still and sparkling, dry to sweet. These Loire wines have medium-high to high acidity, with lemon citrus, baked apple and honey fruit, plus a mineral wet wool character. The South African and US wines show more tropical and ripe fruit characters with less wool character.
Folle Blanche: is used in the production of Cognac and Armagnac. The wine produced is a thin, dry, highly acidic white wine which is ideal for Cognac and Armagnac.
Gruner Veltliner: is the most widely grown grape in Austria. The wines are dry, with lemon, sometimes exotic fruit, green bean, white pepper and radish flavours as well as a strong mineral character.
Gewürztraminer: The wines are usually dry to medium sweet, low to medium acidity, spicy, floral, soapy, highly aromatic, full of fruit with a decidedly perfumed bouquet. It is grown in Alsace, Australia, Austria, Chile, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and USA.
Grenache Blanc: originated in Spain but is more widely grown in Southern Rhone and southern France. It has a crisp acidity which makes it an excellent grape for blending in these warm to hot wine-producing areas.
Marsanne: is a major white variety in Rhone and southern Franc, California and Australia. It produces deep-coloured, low acid, full bodied dry white wines often showing a light marzipan character, and is usually blended with other varietals.
Muller-Thurgau: is grown extensively in Germany, Austria, England. It has medium acidity, a floral blossom bouquet and a light raisin flavour.
OR MELON DE MOURGOGNE
Muscadet or Melon de Bourgogne: is the sole varietal used in the production of Muscadet in the Loire Valley. It produces dry wines with lemon, grapefruit and strong mineral characters that have high acid and medium alcohol.
Muscat: The Muscat family of grapes includes over 200 grape varieties belonging to the Vitis vinifera species that have been used in wine production and as raisin and table grapes around the globe for many centuries. The breadth and number of varieties of Muscat suggest that it is perhaps the oldest domesticated grape variety, and there are theories that most families within the Vitis vinifera grape variety are descended from the Muscat variety. It has a characteristic floral, "grapey" aroma along with musky notes.
Pinot Blanc: is probably best known as an Alsace varietal, but is grown widely in Austria, Italy (Pinot Bianco), Germany (known as Weissburgunder), Eastern Europe, California and Canada. The wine is generally dry with a good level of alcohol, and lighter but with similar characteristics to unoaked Chardonnay.
Pinot Gris: is closely related to Pinot Noir and has a pinkish, light purple skin. As with Pinot Blanc, it is best known as an Alsace grape and is classified there as a noble variety. It is grown in Eastern Europe, Austria and Germany (known as Rulander and Grauerburgunder), as well as Italy and USA, where it is known as Pinot Grigio. The wines are normally dry with floral notes, white peach and light apricot flavours, coupled with strong spicy character, particularly in Alsace.
Rhine Riesling: is the classic white grape of Germany. It produces very high quality Rhine and Mosel wines and top-quality wines in Alsace, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Chile and South Africa. Rieslings grown in Germany and Alsace usually display a mineral quality with pear, yellow/green apple, white peach, some citrus, floral and honey notes and good acidity. Old Rieslings often show a petrol character.
Roussanne: produces a light wine, high in acidity, herby and aromatic. It is frequently blended with Marsanne for such wines as Hermitage Blanc and Chateauneuf du Pape Blanc, both of which are grown in the Rhone Valley. Small amounts have been planted in Australia and the USA.
Sauvignon Blanc: is of French origin and produces excellent wines in Loire and Bordeaux. Although not native to New Zealand, it is possibly at its best there. It produces dry, fresh wines which are usually at their peak within five years. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are two of the best examples from Loire, where the style is light and complex. They have a bouquet of blackcurrant leaves or elderberry, slightly grassy with a citrus gooseberry flavour. Blended with Semillon, it produces dry white Graves and sweet Sauternes and Barsac. Marlborough produces the best Sauvignon Blanc wines in New Zealand, where the style is more defined. They often show a cut green grass or asparagus character, while in Australia and Chile this is less apparent. The Californian wines, also called Fume Blanc, lack intensity, have less of the above characteristics and are softer with a more scented aroma.
Semillon: In Sauternes and Barsac, this grape attracts the fungus botrytis cinerea (noble rot) in favourable condition. Blended with Sauvignon Blanc (also can be affected by noble rot) and Muscadelle grapes, it produces some of the greatest sweet wines in the world. In Graves, it is blended with Sauvignon Blanc for dry wines. It is extremely successful in the Hunter Valley of Australia and New Zealand as well. It has a fat waxy character and light aromas of citrus, melon and fig.
Trebbiano: is the major white grape grown in Italy, where it produces fresh light dry white wines. It is grown in France as Ugni Blanc.
Viognier: is the grape responsible for Condrieu and Chateau Grillet (Chateau-Grillet is a wine-growing AOC in the northern Rhône wine region of France, near Vienne, which produces white wine from Viognier grapes. The whole appellation, which is only 3.8 hectares in size, is owned by a single winery, Chateau-Grillet. The appellation was officially created in 1936.) in northern Rhone. Up to 20% is permitted in Cote Rotie (where Syrah is the leading grape), a great red wine from the same area. It is now being grown in the Languedoc and Roussillon regions of France, USA and Australia. Viognier wines are deep yellow in colour, and highly aromatic with strong peach and apricot aromas and flavours.
Barbera: grows particularly well in Piedmont, northern Italy, where it makes light high-acid wines with dark fruit flavours, medium alcohol and medium tannins. It is grown in the USA and other countries, where it is often used in a blend.
Cabernet Franc: blended with other Bordeaux varietals, is used to produce claret (red Bordeaux). It is the predominant variety in the Loire Valley reds Chinon, Bourgueil and Saumur Champigny and is grown around the world. It has blackcurrant, blackberry and black plum fruit flavours with bell (green) pepper, stalky and earthy characters and is less firmness than Cabernet Sauvignon. Acid content is good with high tannins.
Cabernet Sauvignon: is the classic grape for the top Medoc wines. For these, it is blended with one or more of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Carmenere. It provides the backbone for all the great Medoc wines and usually produces wines that are high in acid and tannin; the tannin will reduce as the wine matures. It is also a major grape variety throughout the temperate and warm wine-producing regions particularly in Eastern Europe and the new world countries. It has aromas and flavours of blackcurrant / cassis, blackberries, cedar box, mint (usually in Australia), eucalyptus (usually California), Christmas pudding or dried fruit (South Australia) and bell pepper character when less ripe.
Carmenere: is one of the original Bordeaux varietals, although is not important anymore in the area. It got the fame in Chile where it produces deep-coloured high tannin wines, medium to low acidity, with herby and juicy black fruit characters.
Dolcetto: is grown in the north of Italy. The wines, which are dry and have low acid, medium alcohol, low tannin with bitter almond and cherry flavours, are best drunk young.
Gamay: This is the single varietal for Beaujolais. The wines are light-coloured, light-bodied and soft, with aromas and flavours of strawberries and cherries. Those produced by maceration carbonique are low in tannin and have a bubble gum/boiled sweet character.
Grenache Noir: is the second most widely planted grape variety. It is a major variety in Spain, southern France and, in particular, southern Cotes-du-Rhone. It is the most important grape used in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas blends, very important in the Rioja blends and in Tavel. The wines have black fruit, violet perfume and peppery characters, with good alcohol content and often a slightly sweet flavour. You also find it in California and Australia.
Malbec: Besides being one of the lesser Bordeaux varietals, this grape is grown extensively in Loire (known here as Cot), Cahors and many other areas of France. It is a major variety in South America and in particular Argentina. Blackberries, plum, violet and herby characters dominate.
Merlot: is the most widely planted black grape in Bordeaux. It is very important in Medoc blends and is the major varietal used in St. Emilion and Pomerol wine production. It is an ever-increasing variety in California, Chile and Australia, and is widely grown in New Zealand, Italy, South Africa and Switzerland. But virtually everywhere in the world. Merlot is known for it’s boisterous black cherry flavours, supple tannins, and chocolatey finish. The character varies from country to country but one of the most loved wines in the world. The most expensive Chateau’s are using this noble grape primarily, like Petrus in Pomerol, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia in Tuscany, Duckhorn Vineyards in California
Montepulciano: grapes are grown particularly in Abruzzo in the Adriatic eastern Italy. Don’t be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano domination in the south of Tuscany and the grape is Sangiovese. The wines are deep-coloured, flashy black fruity wines, peppery and spicy with medium acid and usually low tannins, although some do have high tannin content.
Mourvedre: is grown right across the south of France and is a major varietal in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. The wine is deep-coloured, spicy, herbal and tannic, and is used extensively in blends to provide structure. In Australia and California, it is known as Mataro.
Nebbiolo: is the most important red varietal in Piemonte of Italy. It produces Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara. The characteristics include rose petal, violet, red cherry, prune, chocolate, truffle, hot tar and asphalt. The wines are high in acid and alcohol, very high in tannin and tend to brown quickly giving beautiful garnet colour.
Petit Verdot: originates from France and in particular Bordeaux where it is used as a small percentage of many high quality wines. It provides good acid, colour and tannins. Argentina and South Africa got great reputations. When young its aromas have been likened to banana and pencil shavings. Strong tones of violet and leather develop as it matures.
Pinotage: was developed in South Africa. It is one of the most famous cross in the world. It is the marriage of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It provides black fruit and herby characters. It sometimes has a burnt rubber character which is not appreciated by everyone.
Pinot Noir: is grown worldwide and is the classic single black varietal of the Cote d’Or wines and one of the three permitted grapes of champagne. The wines are light in colour and has low tannin. They have aromas and flavours of raspberries, strawberries, red and black cherries, a herbal character and when mature take on an old cabbage / barnyard character. Pinot Noir wines respond well to oak maturation.
Sangiovese: is the most planted varietal in Italy, but is also found in California. It is the main ingredient in Chianti blends. It is bone dry and herby, has tart cherry character and tends to brown early. Under the name Brunello, It produces wine as Brunello di Montalcino.
Syrah or Shiraz: is the main varietal in the northern Cotes-du-Rhone, producing Cote Rotie, Hermitage, St, Joseph, and Cornas. It is an important grape in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend and the most planted red varietal in Australia. The wines are powerful and full-bodied with concentrated flavours. Black pepper, raspberry, black fruits, mulberry, liquorice, chocolate and leather are common characteristics and when mature wet leather and game characters are often present.
Tannat: Originally found in France as the major varietal in Cahors and Madiran. It got bigger success in South America, especially in Uruguay where this grape is the most planted.
Tempranillo: is the principal grape varietal used for Rioja and Navarra wines, and is grown in many other areas in Spain. Also known as Ull de Liebre, Cencibel, Tinto Fino and Tinta del Pais in Spain, Aragonez or Tinta Roriz in Portugal. The wines are full-bodied, with cherry, strawberry and raspberry flavours.
Touriga Nacional: is the most important and best varietal in the port wine blends, and also produces excellent powerful red table wines. These wines have a deep almost black colour at the core and are full of black fruit flavours with high tannin and acid.
Zinfandel: is synonymous with California, although it came from the Primitivo grape in Italy and its older origins are reputed to be in Croatia (Crljenak Kaštelanski). It is the most planted red grape in California, and much of it is made into a sweet rose wine known as blush wine or white Zinfandel. The more serious Zinfandels are deep-coloured, with jammy red and black plummy fruit characters, medium-high tannins, high acid high alcohol. These red Zinfandels lend themselves to oak maturation.