Types of Wine Grapes

by Lynette Hingle

Types of Wine Grapes

Thomas Oldcastle: Wikimedia Commons

There are over 5,000 different types of wine grapes that are used to produce many different types of wines around the world. Some of the most popular types of wine grapes are Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Merlot and Riesling. Although these grapes are used to make their own signature wines, they are also mixed with other wine grapes to produce a wide variety of blended wines.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay wine grapes are some of the most popular and easiest to grow. Chardonnay grapes are originally from Burgundy, France, but are now grown around the world in places such as California, South Africa and Australia. These grapes generally produce full-bodied dry wines with lemon, fruit and nut overtones. Chardonnay wine grapes are usually aged in oak barrels, a process that adds additional flavor, complexity and depth. Chardonnay can be blended with Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir to make champagne.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon wine grapes are considered among many to be the best red wine grapes in the world. These types of grapes are found in most wine-growing regions of the world, including Bordeaux, Australia and California. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are small and brawny red grapes that can contain a wide variety of flavors such as black cherry, currant, anise, cedar, mint, blackberry, spice and tobacco. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes yield medium to full-bodied red wines, depending on the climate in which they grow. These grapes are often mixed with Merlot grapes to make the wine Bordeaux.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc, also known as White Pinot or Pinot Blanco, grapes are originally from France's Loire Valley but are now grown in Mexico, South Africa, the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina. In France, Chenin Blanc grapes produce light, fruity wines that are generally bottle-aged for at least ten years. However, in other regions such as South Africa and the United States, Chenin Blanc grapes are primarily used as blending agents for fortified spirits and wines and generic table wines. Chenin Blanc grapes produce delicate citrus, melon, spice and peach notes, making it a natural dessert-style wine.

Merlot

Merlot wine grapes are early-ripening grapes that have a soft and usually complex texture. These wine grapes are grown mainly in southern France, California and northeast Italy. Merlot grapes produce fruity flavors of black cherry, mint and black currant. They are primarily mixed with Cabernet Sauvignon to make the wine Bordeaux and to lighten other Cabernet Sauvignon-blended wines. Merlot wine grapes can also stand alone to make their own wines, and each region produces different Merlot wines that tend to be light and delicate in nature.

Riesling

Riesling wine grapes are best known to produce dessert wines, but these native German grapes can also produce musky, honeyed flavors and dry, crisper fruity wines when they are left to ripen longer on the vine or grown in warmer climates. Riesling wine grapes are also used to make ice wines, wines that are made from leaving the grapes on the vine until the first heavy frost of the season. This process concentrates the flavors and sugars of the grape, making for a distinctive and highly prized wine.

Photo Credits

  • Thomas Oldcastle: Wikimedia Commons