wine grapes, wine varieties, wine grape varieties, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, syrah, shiraz, grenache, riesling…
Once upon a time, adding ingredients and flavorings into wine wasn’t considered to be the faux pas that it is today. In fact, in the past, additives and flavorings were absolutely essential to wine because the acted as preservatives and extended a wine’s drinkability. Take Greece for instance, where they make a wine that’s infused with sap from an Aleppo pine tree.
Prosecco wines are Italy’s most popular sparklers. While it’s often compared to Champagne, it’s made with a different set of grapes and a different winemaking method. As you’ll soon discover, there’s more to Prosecco than affordable bubbles. Learn more about this fascinating sparkler, including how to choose Prosecco, the different styles, the main winemaking region, Valdobbiadene, and what foods to pair with it. “There’s more to Prosecco than affordable bubbles.”
Pinot Noir is often hailed for being utterly delicious, but it also happens to be one of the most versatile wine grapes in the world. This single red grape variety can be transformed to create not just red wine, but white, rosé, and sparkling wine as well. How on earth is this possible? It all comes down to the winemaking methods and the production processes that determine this little grape’s fate.
I’m here to show you that Chardonnay is way less obvious (and more nuanced) that you might have thought. If you’re part of the ABC crowd (Anything But Chardonnay), I know exactly where you’re coming from. You’ve had a few too many Chardonnays that tasted like licking an oak tree slathered in butter. However, once you meet Chablis, your Chardonnay world will flip upside-down and faith will be restored!
This month we’re taking a closer look at the red grape, Carménère. Those of us who love savory things and yearn for wines outside of the “fruit-bomb” spectrum will love what Carménère has to offer. Carménère is found mostly in Chile, is related to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and has a higher prevalence of a special aromatic compound (Pyrazine), which adds a unique herbaceous quality to the taste.
If you’re a fan of crisp, fresh, aromatic, fruity white wines with clean herbaceous notes, you’ll want to reach for a Verdejo. The grape is predominantly grown in Rueda, Spain, where careful harvesting and vinification techniques are instrumental to maintaining its crisp, lively style, as the grape is prone to easy oxidation. Very similar in style and flavor to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, Verdejo makes both a refreshing aperitif and good food pairing wine.
Verdejo (“Vurr-day-ho”) is an uncommon, light-bodied white wine that grows almost exclusively in Spain. The wine is an outstanding alternative to wines like Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, with surprising changes in flavors coming with age. Find out more about Verdejo, where it grows, what it tastes like, and excellent food pairings.
The most popular Nebbiolo-based wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, are quite expensive. Luckily, you can get your cherry, tar, and rose-fix from a few other regions where there are more pocketbook-friendly options. The neighboring regions such as Roero, Gattinara, Ghemme, Nebbiolo d’Alba and Langhe in Piedmont, as well as Valtellina in Lombardy, are made with 70-100% Nebbiolo and offer similar (if not strikingly similar – Roero) flavor profiles to Barolo, with a little lighter tannin and price.
Riesling is a grape you either love to love or love to hate. Those who love Riesling appreciate it for its pronounced aromatics and food-friendliness. Sweeter style Rieslings make a perfect accompaniment to spicy dishes, such as Asian foods. The often overlooked drier styles of Riesling pair well with light meats and fish.
Petit Verdot is a red grape that was traditionally reserved as a minor blending grape in the world famous Bordeaux wine blend. However, as the grape has spread to warmer climates, winemakers have realized that Petit Verdot can make intensely bold, fruity-yet-floral, red wines that can and do easily stand on their own.
If white wines are going to have a heyday once again, it’s beginning now. While critics have been preoccupied with red wines lately, white wines have been staging a quiet revolution, introducing new drinkers to drier styles with the same quenching freshness of an ice cold beer… but without the carbs.
Upon the boisterous expression of the beauty of Lambrusco, you may be remonstrated with something like, “You mean that cheap, sweet red wine that tastes like soda?” Well not exactly, but yes, that one. Apparently, Lambrusco still has a long way to go since it tarnished its reputation nearly 40 years ago (blame the wine boom of the 1970s). Fortunately, this means you can find great wines for obscenely good prices. Lambrusco is awesome and its story is more fascinating than probably imagined.
A vine dating back to the 1830s has been determined to be the once thought-to-be-extinct Tardif. What is interesting about Tardif is that it contains high levels of rotundone, making it similar to Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Mourvèdre. Rotundone is a compound responsible for Syrah’s rich black peppery aromas. Tardif is intriguing because it’s slow to ripen – a classic sign of a high-quality grape variety.
If you like your wines big, bold, and red, Nebbiolo needs to be on your radar. Hailing from Northern Italy’s Piedmont region, this grape is known for producing powerful, full-bodied, and mercilessly tannic wines—all while looking as pale as Pinot Noir! Most famously, it’s the grape that goes into Barolo and Barbaresco, two of the world’s most revered (and more expensive) wines.
For those of us who are perpetually hunting for the unusual, the wine world is a mecca of delight. There are thousands of wine varieties, most of which exist in only in specific microclimates. Despite how rare these varietal wines are, they are within reach. Sound like an opportunity for some delicious discoveries? Absolutely!
If you’ve ever driven through a landscape covered with vineyards, you probably noticed that not all vineyards look the same. That’s because not all grape vines are grown in the same way, given that each vine training system offers different benefits. Let’s go over the basics and discuss several common vine training systems that you’re likely to see on your next journey through wine country.