A good wine is not made without good grapes. However, the grapes you are used to eating may seem ideal for making wine. However, this is not the case! The edible grape has a very fine skin and small berries, as well as a light taste. For wine making, seeds and skin are not a concern as they are eliminated. However, the winegrowers prefer a grape with a stronger, more expressive character, which has nothing to do with the table grapes that we are used to eating.
The most widespread vine species in wine estates around the world is called Vitis Vinifera. This is the species that produces the most famous and appreciated grape varieties such as Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon and Pinot. Like many other fruits, there are hundreds of different varieties belonging to the species Vitis Vinifera. These varieties (or grape varieties) have different characteristics, such as colour, size, taste... Thus, when we talk about grape variety, we are talking about the variety of the grape.
Although there are hundreds of grape varieties, only 50 of them represent 99% of the world's viticulture because they are widely recognized and offer constant quality. Like Granny Smith or Golden for apples, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, for example, are considered superior varieties (grape varieties) because their taste is appreciable. Each grape variety differs morphologically (size of the bunch, shape of the leaves, colour and size of the grape and its flesh...) but also from a gustatory point of view: the grape can be more or less acidic, more or less sweet and can especially present many different aromas. Location, type of soil and climate also play a key role in the expression of aromas.
To obtain identical grape varieties, winegrowers use plants created by vegetative propagation mainly by grafting, so that each plant retains similar characteristics. Nowadays, vine plants are composed of two parts: the graft, the upper part of the vine stock that carries the variety, it is the upper branch portion, used to produce the leaves and grapes. The rootstock, of American origin, the lower part of the plant, serves only as a support and protects the plants from attacks of phylloxera, a small insect of American origin that ravaged the vines in Europe in the 19th century by attacking the roots.
One of the most important characteristics of a grape variety is the body it gives to the wine, the sensation that the wine will leave in the mouth. Its strength will give the wine a light or full-bodied appearance. This is partly due to the alcohol content of the wine.
White Wine Grape Varieties
Red Wine Grape Varieties
|Lightweight||Riesling, white chenin||Alsace Riesling, White Anjou||pinot noir, gamay||Red Burgundy, Beaujolais|
|Medium||sauvignon blanc, pinot gris||Sancerre, Alsace Pinot Gris||merlot, cabernet franc||Saint-Emillion, Bourgueil|
|Full-bodied||chardonnay, viognier||White Burgundy, Condrieu||cabernet sauvignon, syrah||Médoc, Saint-Joseph|
For the novice as well as for the wine expert, being interested in the different grape varieties is important. New World wines are labelled according to the grape variety and not the appellations and even in Europe today the varieties are listed on the labels. Although there may be a very large difference in taste on wines using the same grape variety, depending on the soil where they were produced, the grape variety will always remain an important criterion to better understand the huge wine market and understand it. It should also be remembered that many wines are in fact a blend of several grape varieties to match tastes.
To really understand the role of the grape variety in the wine but also (and above all) the impact of the terroir on the grape varieties, nothing beats a tasting with a passionate winemaker. Find an estate where you can taste and live a Wine Experience in Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Loire Valley right now on Lesgrappes.com, we have selected for you passionate winegrowers who will open their doors to you.