Here is a glossary of a few of the better known wine varieties.
Hopefully We'll add more as time permits.

White Wine Grapes

Chardonnay- Chardonnay wines are made from the European Vinifera grape, a highly complex and aromatic white grape that does not require blending, is easy to grow and produces a high yield. Chardonnays' are dry, fruity wines with a pleasant mix of delicate flavours and aromas. It is used extensively in California and is the only grape grown in the Chablis region of Burgundy.

Chenin Blanc- Grown primarily in the Loire Valley region of France and portions of California, Chenin Blanc is used to make Vouvray. Chenin blanc is a dry, crisp wine with a well balanced fruity taste that ages well.

Gewurztraminer- (ga-VERTZ-trah-Mee-ner) Although there are dry Gewurztrainers, it is primarily known as a sweet wine with a spicy floral bouquet. German in origin, Gewurztraminers are also known to the Alsace region of France.

Pinot Gris- A mutation of the red Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio in some parts of the world, typically makes a dry and very crisp, acidic white wine.

Riesling- A late ripening grape with only a moderate yield, Riesling has been cultivated in Germany since the 14th century. Generally thought of as a sweet wine, however Rieslings grown in Germany tend to be slightly tart when compared to those grown in California.

Sauvignon Blanc- Often sold in the USA under the name Fumé Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc is very aromatic and flavourful wine that is available in numerous varieties, from light and dry to full and sweet. Compliments food well.

Semillon- At one time a popular grape, Semillon no longer receives the attention it once enjoyed. Today, Semillon is primarily used as a blending grape in Bordeaux wines like Sauternes and Sauvignon Blanc.

Viognier- (vee-YOH-nyay) A highly perfumed wine of medium to full body and spicy fruit flavour that is growing in popularity. However Viognier is difficult to grow and is best served young for its fruity, floral bouquet tend to fade with time. An excellent compliment to spicy foods.

White Zinfandel- A popular, pale-rose wine with quite a sweet taste that is made from the Red Zinfandel grape (The red skins are removed before the wines colour can be affected). Serve chilled.

Red Wines Grapes

Cabernet Franc- Lighter and fruitier than Cabernet Sauvignon, it is often blended with Sauvignon in making Red Bordeaux. Cabernet Franc may be shelved for 10 to 15 years or consumed young.

Cabernet Sauvignon- A medium to full bodied wine of deep colour that blends well with other wines. The French Red Bordeaux wines use Cabernet Sauvignon grapes along with Cabernet Franc or Merlot grapes, as do American wines using the Meritage name. Traditionally, Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in oak barrels to enhance the flavour. They are slow developing wines so the aging process is critical. The grapes themselves are quite durable and can and are grown in many parts of the world.

Gamay- The primary grape of the Beaujolais region of France. Beaujolais wines are generally created with the Gamay grape and have sugar added during the fermentation process to increase the alcohol content. The Gamay produces a fast maturing wine with a fresh, fruity, light-bodied taste.

Merlot- Until recently, Merlot's were primarily used as a blending wine because its complex but mellow taste takes the edge off of harsher wines. Today, Merlot's are popular wines on their own.

Petit Sirah- The American name for the French Duriff grape, the Petit Sirah is actually quite large and purple. Used primarily as a blending wine, Petit Sirahs possess a strong tannic taste that benefits from aging.

Pinot Noir- The main grape of the Burgundy region, Pinot Noir is the grape used in making the Red Sancerre Wine. Pinot Noir grapes are difficult to grow and cultivate, tending to prefer cooler climates. Pinot Nior is usually medium to deep ruby red in colour, full-bodied, quite aromatic and possesses a wide variety of flavours.

Syrah- A heavy red wine with a spicy fruit flavour. Syrah is originally a Persian varietal grape, best known for its use in the Rhone area of France where Hermitage is made. Syrah is grown in Australia under the name Shiraz.

Zinfandel- A full-bodied, dry wine with a deep red hue, Zinfandels' are known for their intense fruit flavour. Primarily grown in California, Zinfandels have proven to be popular with growers because of their great versitility and their ease of cultivation. Typically drunk as young wines, but most age well.


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