Wines may be made from a single grape variety- varietal wine –or from more than one variety of grape species- bi-varietal, for instance. There are some varieties of wine that are international, which means that they are planted in vineyards of every major wine region where they may ripen. Two of the foremost international wine varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon- a red grape wine variety -and Chardonnay- a white grape wine variety.
Some White Grapes
Originally from the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France, today Chardonnay grape variety is a classic grape grown all around the world. Chardonnay is differentiated from other white varieties by its special fermentation and aging process. This variety of grape normally ages in wood, what gives it a round, buttery flavor. It is left to develop in special oak barrels that give Chardonnay wines their unique nutty, toasty, buttery, smokey, and creamy aromas.
Oak barrels also provide this type of wine its flavor, a mixture of pineapple, pears, green apple and vanilla. Its aging process deepens the color of this variety of wine, and gives it beautiful golden and vanilla tones. Wines made from the Chardonnay grape are usually served chilled. Chardonnay is a perfect match for chicken and dishes that are served with a lot of butter or cream sauce.
Sauvignon Blanc- also known as Fume Blanc -is a classic grape variety generally used to produce dry wines with marked acidity. This grape produces wine that is high in acid and that tend to have a distinctive herbaceous, green, vegetal taste. It is largely produced in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux, in France.
Sauvignon Blanc has a delicious grassy and citrus bouquet. It has a spicy flavor that makes it the white counterpart to the red Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Due to its acidity levels, Sauvignon Blanc is a very good match for seafood and salads.
Gewurztraminer grows up better in cool climates. It is produced mainly the United States, Germany, New Zealand and in France- especially in Alsace. Today, this grape variety is also widely grown in Australia and Eastern Europe.
This grape variety is noted for it floral fragrance and its spicy flavors. It is very sweet and has a slightly flavor of vanilla and tropical fruit such as lychee and mango. It goes very well with spicy foods. Although Gewurztraminer is commonly used to produce dry wine, it can also produce delicious varieties of semi-dry and dessert wines.
Semillon is widely grown in the Bordeaux region of France, together with other varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle. It is frequently used to produce white sweet wines with strong flavor and very aromatic, although it can also produce very good dry wines. Both sweet and dry Semillon wines can be left to develop in aging barrels for a very long time.
Semillon is best blended with Sauvignon Blanc in order to produce a delicious bi-varietal wine. Wines made from this variety of grape go very well with slightly spicy foods.
Riesling produces the classic wines of Germany. Wines made from Riesling are high in acidity and have a peachy and honeysuckle bouquet. It can produce dry or semi-dry wines as well as sweet ones.
Other white grapes: Aligoté, Chenin Blanc, Columbard, Folle Blanche, Grüner, Veltliner, Malvasia, Marsanne, Melon de Bourgogne, Muller-Thurgau, Muscadelle, Muscat, Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, Pinot Gris, Rousanne, Scheurebe, Sylvaner, Trebbiano, Ugni Blanc, Verdicchio and Viognier.
Some Red Grapes
Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety of red grape mainly used for red wine production. It is one of the most widely-planted of the world's noble grape varieties, and probably one of the best-known grapevines. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted worldwide, including countries such as Chile, Australia, California and Bulgaria.
This variety of grape improves into a truly great wine when left to develop in aging barrels. With age, its distinctive black currant aroma can develop a rich bouquet of cedar, violets, leather, or tobacco and its typically tannic edge may soften and smooth considerably. Cabernets are often blended with other grapes to make the wine drinkable at a younger age. For example, the French red Bordeaux wines are made with a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot and sometimes Cabernet Franc.
Typically, Cabernet Sauvignon wines are full-bodied and smell like black currants with a degree of bell pepper. It has a very particular bouquet, with a mixture of aromas from fruit, herbs and spices. Typical Cabernet smell is that of black currant, black berry and black cherry, bell pepper and green olive, and ginger and green peppercorn. It has a light flavor of vanilla, coconut and wood.
Merlot is the second black grape variety of Bordeaux and one of the most important grapes in Pomerol, the United States and New Zealand. This grape variety produces wine with a slightly fruity flavor and low in tannins, which causes its wines to mature faster and be softer in texture. Merlot should be served slightly refrigerated, almost at ambient temperature, and goes well with grilled meat. Merlot has a dry, smooth taste and a delicious smell of ripe berry.
Pinot Noir grows particularly well in cooler climates such as Santa Barbara, Napa and Oregon. It has a thin skin and light color, and its skin has softer tannins than Cabernet. This grape is one of the most difficult grapes to grow, since it needs warm days and cool nights. But when it is properly grown it is one of the very best varieties.
Pinots have a delicious cherry and strawberry bouquet with a hint of clove and cinnamon. Pinot Noire produces delicate and delicious wine that goes well with food that is not very hot or spicy, mainly with seafood. This variety of grape is a major component in the production of most fine quality Champagne and California sparkling wines.
Syrah grows very well in the Rhone region in France. It produces wine of a delicious intense flavor and raspberry and white pepper aroma. Most times this variety of grapes produces full, heavy, fruity wines, with a hint of blackberry. In warmer climates, Syrah produces sweet wines with a ripe taste, while in cooler climates it produces wines with spice and pepper aromas.
Other red grape varieties: Barbera, Brunello, Cabernet Franc, Carignane, Carmenère, Cinsault, Dolcetto, Durif, Gamay, Grenache, Grignolino, Malbec, Montepulciano, Mourvèdre, Nebbiolo, Petit Sirah, Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Pinot Meunier, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cao, Touriga Francesa, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Zinfandel.
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