Red Wine Grapes


  

Wine Tasting Notes Organized by Red Grape

Barbera
This red wine grape common in Northern Italy resembles the Cabernet Sauvignon, except with less tannins. Fairly acidic, which is why it is mainly used as a blending grape.

Brunello
Also known as a Sangiovese Grosso, because it is a spin-off of the Sangiovese, this Italian red wine grape makes dark red wines that taste of berries.

Cabernet Franc
Less popular than the Cabernet Sauvignon and less tannic as well, this red wine grape provides a softer and fruitier alternative to its sister. Popular in Northeast France and the Eastern U.S., the wine comes in grape-named varieties as well as French place-named varieties such as Chinon and Bourgeuil.

Cabernet Sauvignon
A red wine grape that is dominant in the French Bordeaux region, and found in about every other region because it is so easy to grow. The result of a marriage between the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes, it is high in tannins, allowing it to age well. Of course, these tannins will soften over the aging time. Commonly brings to mind black currant and cedar.

Carignane
A dying breed of the red wine grapes because it does not produce high quality wines that consumers expect today. However, its deep red color, heavy tannins and high alcohol content make it popular in table wines. Found in the Mediterranean region.

Carmenere
Originally from France, this red wine grape is now popular in Chile. Similar to a Merlot, but without any distinguishing characteristics, it is most commonly used as a blending grape.

Chambourcin
Also called a "Pennsylvania Zinfandel," this red wine grape is a French-American hybrid. It makes dark purple wines with berry characteristics that tend to be light- or medium-bodied.

Cinsault
This red wine grape from Southern France is sweet but simple, and is thus used chiefly as a blending grape.

Dolcetto
A major red wine grape of Northern Italy that is slowly losing popularity. Makes a sweet soft wine that doesn’t age well.

Durif
A synthetic offspring of the Shiraz (or Syrah) grape created by Dr. Dunif, this red wine grape grows well in California and Australia. Sometimes called a Petit Syrah because of a mistaken identity, it has high tannins and commonly tastes of pepper.

Gamay
This red wine grape is a primary grape from the French Beaujolais region. It makes a light, fruity wine low in alcohol and high in acid and doesn’t age well.

Grenache
A Spanish grape that is more popular in the French Rhone region than its homeland, this red wine grape will, in most instances, make an overly-alcoholic, dilute wine. However, if you are lucky enough to find a good bottle, you’ll be quite pleased with the fruity taste of raspberries and deep, velvety texture.

Grignolino
Grown principally in Northern Italy, this red wine grape makes a dry wine with high acidity and low tannins. Best drank young, when it will have a vibrant aroma.

Malbec
A red wine grape from the French Bordeaux region, it has recently gained popularity in Argentina. The wines it produces have fruity flavors with slightly peppery undertones.

Merlot
Possibly the most popular red wine grape. Less tannins than a typical red wine grape, thus it doesn’t age as well and is quite soft. Makes wines that are easy to drink, especially good for someone just starting to drink reds. Commonly dry, fruity and smooth.

Montepulciano
An Italian red wine grape that makes fruity, light- to medium-bodied wines on its own, and is also often blended with Sangiovese.

Mourvèdre
Common in the French Rhone region, this red wine grape is high in tannins and it thus used primarily for blending. Also known as Mataro.

Nebbiolo
This red wine grape is a big grower in the Italian Piedmont region and tends to need a bit of aging for its full potential to be reached.

Norton
This man-made grape, created by Dr. Daniel Norton of Richmond, Virginia in the 1800s, is the oldest grape native to the US. It is grown primarily in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions and is also known as Cynthiana. It makes wines that are distinctly "grapey" and taste like a grape bought in the grocery store, which as unusual as it may sound, is very rare in wines and not often sought after.

Petit Sirah
Despite its name, this red wine grape is actually one of two other grapes: the Durif or the Peloursin. Its name is the result of an inability to correctly identify the two European grapes when they were brought over to America. Common in California, wines labeled as Petit Sirah tend to be deep red or purple in color with strong tannins and a peppery taste.

Petit Verdot
A highly-tannic red wine grape that is used primarily for blending, especially with Merlots, where it helps strengthen the tannins. From the French Bordeaux region.

Pinot Meunier
From the French Champagne region comes this relative to the Pinot Noir, which, along with its relative and the Chardonnay grape, is one of three grapes that go into champagne. The Pinot Meunier softens the bubbly and adds a bit of fruitiness to it. It is known as a Schwarzriesling in Germany.

Pinot Noir
This red wine grape is very difficult to grow, but in a good year, it will make a fine bottle of wine. Unusually low in tannins and high in acidity for a red, it is usually best when it is young. Beware, though, the difficulty to grow Pinot Noirs translates into difficulty in providing a constant quality of crop - different vintages may fluctuate greatly. Common in the French Burgundy region as well as the Western U.S.

Pinotage
A cross between a Pinot Noir and a Cinsault, this red wine grape is a major player in South Africa. Makes a fruity wine.

Pourtgieser
While its name would lead you to believe it originated in Portugal, this red wine grape is actually from Austria. It makes fruity light reds and rose wines.

Primitivo
An Italian red wine grape that shares its roots with the California Zinfandel – Croatia! It used to be equated with lower-quality wines, but is making a comeback thanks to Italian wine producers.

Sangiovese
This is the red wine grape responsible for Chiantis. Besides being a major grape in Italy, it is also gaining fame in California. This grape tends to produce wine with high acidity and tannin levels, with a distinct, tart cherry taste.

Schwarzriesling
If you speak German, you would assume this red wine grape was a black Riesling, but it is not! This is actually the same as the Pinot Meunier grape, found in France. It makes a simple, dark red wine.

Syrah, or Shiraz
The most popular red wine grape in Australia, where it makes a sweet, flavorful wine, it is also common in the French Rhone Valley, where it creates a spicy wine, and California. Usually best when drank fairly young, within a year of production.

Tempranillo
A major red wine grape in Spain, Portugal and, as of recent years, Australia that is often used as a blending grape for both wines and ports. Also known as the Tinta Roriz.

Tinta Barroca
With its thin skin and early maturity, this red wine port grape makes a soft, refined wine and is often used as a blending grape to mellow out harsh wines and improve the lasting taste.

Tinta Cao
Unlike the Tinta Barroca, this red wine port grape has very thick skins, and is used commonly as a blending grape to add fruity aromas and tastes.

Tinta Roriz
This red wine port grape doesn’t make an amazing wine on its own, but will add a good spicy taste when used as a blending grape. Also called Tempranillo.

Touriga Francesa
A red wine port grape used as a blend to add a flowery aroma.

Touriga Nacional
One of the oldest red wine port grapes, with thick tannins and sweet, fruity characteristics. Known for making the highest quality (and most expensive) ports.

Zinfandel
When you think of this grape, you probably think a blush or white wine, and possibly not very highly. But the Zinfandel grape is a red grape, and like the obscurity around its color, its origin is also vague. While it is the oldest grape in California, it is not a native of America – its actual roots stem from Croatia! However, it is now almost exclusively found in California. Red Zinfandels make a deep, alcoholic wine with a range from fruity to spicy flavor. White Zinfandels are actually a blush wine, with a very sweet and fruity flavor.



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From the Wine Guide


Tempranillo: A major red wine grape in Spain, Portugal and, as of recent years, Australia that is often used as a blending grape for both wines and ports. Also known as the Tinta Roriz.