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Home | Red Varieties

Red Grape Varieties

Most Popular Articles
August 14, 2013
Popularity and reputation shouldn't be a problem when you're the 3rd most widely planted red grape in Italy. Yet for most of its existence, Barbera has been viewed as inferior to its sibling that shares the hills on its ancestral home. . . . keep reading

Dolcetto - When a Show Bet Pays Off
August 7, 2013
The Piedmont region in the northwestern corner of Italy produces some of the most famous red wine in the world. The grapes that go into making these thoroughbreds are Nebbiolo (Barolo and Barbaresco), Barbera, and coming in third, a much less known red grape called Dolcetto [dohl-CHEHT-oh]. . . . keep reading

Tannat - Taxes and Tannins
July 24, 2013
For many wine drinkers, saying the word "Tannat" usually involves a question such as "To drink or Tannat (to not)?" Others may ask "Should I have wine Tannat (tonight) or tomorrow night?" And others just ask "What the heck is Tannat!?" The majority of those can be pardoned, as the little known grape has largely remained in obscurity outside of its ancestral home in the Basque region of France (for the record, the correct pronunciation is tan NAT). . . . keep reading

Red Grape Varieties A-Z

Cabernet Franc - The Under-appreciated Elder
When many wine drinkers order a glass of "Cabernet" they usually refer to the more popular Sauvignon varietal. Yet, before the big red took the world by storm, Cabernet Franc was propagating in vineyards across Europe. It wasn't until a cross with Sauvignon Blanc, that Cabernet Sauvignon came to being. . . . keep reading
Cabernet Sauvignon - The King of the Wine World?
Cabernet Sauvignon whether in the eyes of critics, economic contribution, reputation, or viticultural awards, has become the world's most well-known grape variety. Grown in most of the major wine prod . . . keep reading
Carmenere- The Chilean Cinderella
Carmenere- The Chilean Cinderella For much of Bordeaux's existence as a prominent wine region (starting in the 18th century), Carmenere was the lesser of its 6 original red grape varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot were the elder, vain step-sisters that constantly overshadowed Carmenere to the point of exile. . . . keep reading
Charbono - Slow Foods Star
Charbono - Slow Foods Star Charbono is a grape variety from the Savoie region of France, located in the French Alps, with Italy on its eastern border. The grape is one of the most commonly confused varieties, having potential relatives in France and Italy, and masquerading for decades using dozens of different and frequently incorrect names. . . . keep reading
Cinsaut - The Quiet Understudy
Cinsaut - The Quiet Understudy Chances are you probably have tasted Cinsaut without even knowing it. Someone may have handed you a glass of red or pink French wine and you quaffed happily, oblivious to the varietal but keenly aware of the pleasantness on the palate. If you did inquire about the type of grape used to make the contents of your glass, the presenter may have had a hard time giving a precise answer due to the lack of popularity Cinsaut receives outside of France, and the fact that it is usually one of a number of grapes blended to make one wine. Oh, and maybe because the grape has over 60 aliases, such as West's White Prolific and Black Prince. . . . keep reading
Grenache - Out of Obscurity
Grenache - Out of Obscurity For centuries Grenache languished in obscurity, hardly given a second thought outside of the Spanish and French regions it made its home. Yet, in those areas, Grenache took up substantial amounts of vineyards and held considerable local importance. Slowly the international wine world took notice of the heights the grape could achieve, especially in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Priorat in Spain. . . . keep reading
Malbec - The Happy Transplant
Malbec - The Happy Transplant Many grape varieties are known as world travelers but few have decided to leave their homeland behind to take up residency and raise a family in a new country. Malbec is an exception to the rule. . . . keep reading
Merlot - Cabernet Sauvignon's Fruitier Brother
With origins in the Bordeaux region, Merlot is the second most planted red grape in the world. The varietal is the main component of the blends emanating from the southwest area in France where it has solidified its standing as a world class grape. Merlot has spread throughout the world and has made its mark on several wine growing areas. Although it may trail Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of popularity, Merlot remains one of the wine world's most important varietals. . . . keep reading
Nebbiolo - Out of the fog
Nebbiolo - Out of the fog Like many of its fellow countrymen, this red varietal is extremely proud of its heritage, remaining quite content to showcase its excellence in the rolling hills of northwest Italy. Its origins can be traced to the Piemonte region just south of Turin with definitive mention of the grape in the late 1300s. Thought to be named after the typical fogs that envelope the area in the autumn, Nebbiolo is ardently particular about the conditions in which it will grow, requiring a southerly facing slope for maximum sunlight to fully ripen. . . . keep reading
Negroamaro - A trulli magnificent grape
Negroamaro - A trulli magnificent grape Let's begin with the pronunciation - Nay grow ah MAH row, hanging on the MAH. Negroamaro is a grape that is not only fun to say but delicious to drink. A somewhat lesser known grape variety from the Apulia region of Italy, Negroamaro has become increasingly popular in recent times as wine consumers look for big fruit filled reds without the big price tag. . . . keep reading
Pinotage - Overcoming Adversity
Pinotage - Overcoming Adversity Perhaps no other grape variety has struggled to be recognized more than Pinotage. Created in 1925 by Professor Abraham Izak Perold at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Cinsault at that time was called "Hermitage" in South Africa, hence Pinotage. . . . keep reading
Syrah/Shiraz- The grape with two names
This red grape is sometimes confused as being one of two separate varieties due to the confusion in names. Yet, the grape that made the Rhone Valley famous is the same that is planted across Australia, no matter what the locals call it. There are legends and myths about the origins of the duality, most centered on the Iranian town of Shiraz and the theories of how it may have been transplanted in France, but the only really important fact is that they are the exact same grape. And although vintners across the world have been debating which name to use, the wines are nevertheless noteworthy. . . . keep reading
Sangiovese - What's in a name?
Sangiovese - What's in a name? Best known as the grape behind Chianti, Sangiovese (san-joh-VAY-zeh) is the most widely planted red grape in Italy, and has almost as many names as there are wine regions within the country.  Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino, Sangioveto, and Sangiovese di Romagna are only some of the more common. . . . keep reading
Tempranillo - The Iberian King
Tempranillo - The Iberian King As Spanish as matadors and tapas, Tempranillo has been a staple throughout the country since the Phoenicians imported the varietal during their trans-Mediterranean voyages. For centuries the grape remained overlooked internationally while holding the appeal of the local citizenry. And even though it spread west to Portugal, Tempranillo did not earn global recognition until the last two decades. . . . keep reading
Touriga Nacional - The Tempranillo of Portugal
Touriga Nacional - The Tempranillo of Portugal Portugal has the largest population of indigenous grape varieties in the world -- 350 to 500 unique varieties depending on who is doing the counting. Rising to the top in popularity is Touriga Nacional, made famous for its use in the production of Port. Touriga Nacional is a red grape, from the Vitis Vinifera species, and is known for very intense floral flavors, acidity and tannins. This strength in the grape variety comes from its genetic makeup, and the conditions under which it is grown. . . . keep reading
Zinfandel - The Trail Blazer
Zinfandel - The Trail Blazer Even though it wasn't the first grape widely cultivated in the United States, Zinfandel has created its own legacy, different from other Vitis Vinifera. Most of the major wine grapes in the United States owe their success and popularity to regions in Europe, growing for centuries before making their way to American soil. Yet Zinfandel had a peculiar journey from its ancestral home in Croatia, where it is known as Crljenak Kastelanski. . . . keep reading
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