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Chardonnay (Shar-do-nay)
Chardonnay was the most popular white grape through the 1990’s.
It is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine.
It can be made sparkling or still. In cool climates, Chardonnay wine tends
to be medium to light body with noticeably acidity and flavors of green
plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations, the flavors become more
citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations, more fig and
tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Chardonnay is
an important component of many sparkling wines around the world,
including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy.

Sauvignon Blanc (So-veen-yawn Blah)

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety. Depending on
the climate, the flavor can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly
tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines
with noticeable acidity and “green flavors” that shows herbal character
suggesting grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit
and floral notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit
notes but risk losing a lot of aromatics from over-ripeness, leaving only
slight grapefruit and tree fruit notes.

Sémillon (Say-mee-yaw)
Semillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet
white wines, mostly in France and Australia. Its thin skin and
susceptibility to botrytis make it dominate the sweet wine region. The wine
varietal features distinct fig-like character. Sémillon is often blended with
sauvignon blanc to delimit its strong berry-like flavors.
The moscato variety belongs to the muscat family of grapes.
Moscato wines are easily recognizable to anyone who has tasted a Muscat
table grape. The wine is sweet, always fruity, and low in alcohol with a
characteristic of grapefruit and musky aroma. It is often considered as a
dessert wine.

Pinot Grigio (Pee-no Gree-zo)

Pinot gris or Pinot grigio is a white wine grape variety thought to be
a mutant clone of the pinot noir variety. It normally has a grayish-blue
fruit, accounting for its name but the grapes can have a brownish pink to
black and even white appearance. The wines produced from this grape
also vary in color from deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade
of pink, and it is one of the more popular grapes for skin-contact wine.
Pinot Grigio is a crisp, dry wine with good acid “bite” and is typically made
in Italy and Germany. Oregon or Alsace Pinot Gris shows aromatic, fruity

Gewürztraminer (Gah-vurtz-tra-meener)
Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety used in white
wines and performs best in cooler climates. May have aromas of rose
petals, passion fruit and floral notes. A Gewürztraminer seems generally
not as refreshing as other types of dry white wines.

Riesling (Rees-ling)
Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine
region. It’s an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed,
fresh apple aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-
sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are much lighter
than Chardonnay wines. They might also prove tastier as they age.

Syrah or Shiraz (Sah-ra or Shi-raz)

Syrah and Shiraz are two names for the same variety. It has aromas
and flavors of wild black fruit such as blackcurrant, with overtones of
black pepper spice and roasting meat. The abundance of fruit sensations
is often complemented by warm alcohol and gripping tannins.

The shiraz variety gives hearty, spicy reds. While shiraz is used to
produce many average wines, it can produce some of the world’s finest,
deepest, and darkest reds with intense flavors and excellent longevity.

Merlot (Mare-lo)
Easy to drink. The softness of Merlot has made it an “introducing”
wine for new red-wine drinkers. Typical scents include blackcherry, plums
and herbal flavors. The texture is round but a middle palate gap is
common. The Merlot type of wine is less tannic (rough) than Cabernet

Cabernet Sauvignon (Ca-burr-nay So-veen-yaw)

Widely accepted as one of the world’s best varieties. Cabernet
sauvignon is often blended with cabernet franc and merlot. It usually
undergoes oak treatment. Full-bodied taste, but firm and gripping when
young. With age, the grip fades away. The rich currant qualities of the
Cabernet Sauvignon wine change to that of pencil box. Bell pepper notes
remain. Vanilla notes, if present, come not from the fruit but from the oak
treatment. They increase review ratings but may overwhelm the varietal
Malbec (Mal-bek)
Malbec is a purple-grape variety used in making red wine. The
grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins, and are known
as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine.
Malbec’s characteristics vary greatly depending on where it is grown and
how it is transformed. Generally, it produces an easy-drinking style, well-
colored wine that tastes of plums, berries, and spice.
Malbec is often blended with other varieties such as Cabernet Franc,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot to make Bordeaux style
wines. Malbec and some such blends may present some health benefits.

Pinot Noir (Pee-know na-wahr)

One of the noblest red wine grapes. Pinot Noir is difficult to grow,
rarely blended, and with no roughness. It is grown mostly in the cooler
climates. Pinot Noir is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into
wine. When young, wines made from pinot noir tend to have red fruit
aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wine ages, pinot
noir has the potential to develop more vegetal and “barnyard” aromas that
can contribute to the complexity of the wine.

Unlike Cabernet Sauvignon, the structure is delicate and fresh

Zinfandel (Zin-fan-dell)
Perhaps the world’s most versatile wine grape, making everything
from blush wine (White Zinfandel), to rich, heavy reds. Zinfandel is a
variety of black-skinned wine grape. The taste of the red wine depends on
the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Often a zesty flavor with
berry and pepper. Red berry fruit flavors like raspberry predominate in
wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are
more common in wines in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier
Primitivo ripening.
Sangiovese (San-gee-oh-ve-zee)
Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name
from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jupiter”.

Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavors of strawberry and little

spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry flavors when aged in
barrels. While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot
Noir, Cabernet Saugvinon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavor profile
of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes. Wines made
from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity.

Barbera (Bar-bear-a)
Barbera is a red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the
third most-planted red grape variety in Italy. It produces good yields and
is known for deep color, full body, low tannins and high levels of acid.

Not as popular as Merlot but with similar attributes. When young,

the wine offers a very intense aroma of fresh red cherries and blackberries.
In the lightest versions, notes of cherries, raspberries and blueberries and
with notes of blackberry and black cherries in wines made of more ripe
grapes. The lightest versions are generally known for flavors and aromas
of fresh fruit and dried fruits and are not recommended for cellaring.
Wines with better balance between acid and fruit, often with the addition
of oak and having a high alcohol content are more capable of cellaring.