Knowledge - Grape Types

Grape Varieties ~ There’s so many

Grapes are the essential ingredient in wine. It is the grape that is responsible for the colour of the wine, the style of a wine, how it looks, how it smells and how it tastes.

Learning about wine is really all about noticing how one wine differs from another. One of the quickest and easiest differences to note is that many different varieties of grape are used to make wine. This allows you to ask for the same type of wine the next time you go to the shop, or if you are following The Wine School ethos, to try a different wine and compare and contrast!

Different varieties will produce different wines, with different looks, smells and tastes. Is it white? Is it red? Does it smell flowery, fruity or earthy? Does it taste soft or sharp? Does it have fruity, floral or different flavours?

Most of these differences will be due to the grape variety.

So, it helps to know a bit about grapes and as a very large proportion of the wines we buy in shops and restaurants today have the name of the grape variety, (or varieties) on the label, being able to recognise the main ones would give us a good head start.

Common (Widely Available) Grape Types

When buying wine in shops and restaurants you will see the wines such as:

Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay
Merlot Sauvignon Blanc
Shiraz ( or Syrah) Viognier
Pinot Noir Riesling
Malbec Pinot Grigio
Tempranillo Chenin Blanc
Zinfandel Semillon
Carmenere Gewurztraminer
Grenache Muscat






.......and several others.


The physical properties of individual grape varieties differ and it is these differences that contribute to making the wines different. Here are some key properties of grapes and notes on how they influence thel look, smell and taste of the wine.

Colour - A bit obvious? Perhaps. But it does help when trying to know what’s a Red Wine and what’s a White Wine.

Size – grapes which have small berries tend to have more of a compound called
tannin, which is very important in red wines.

Thickness of skins – Those grapes which have thick skins also have more tannin.

Acidity Levels – some grape types have higher levels of acid in their composition, which can have a very distinctive effect on the flavour of the wine that is made from them.

Aromatic Compounds – some wines are very flowery smelling wines, others very grassy smelling wines, some wines are very “neutral” smelling wines. These differences are due to the aromatic compounds within the grape.

Put all these together and you begin to get an understanding of how and why different grapes make different wines with very differing flavours and other important characteristics.

















The Red grapes differ from one another in the levels of tannin, as well as the smells (aromas) and flavours and the amount of alcohol they tend to produce when wine is made from them.

The main differences among wines made from white grapes tends to be in the freshness/crispness (acidity level), in their flavours and in their smells which tend to be lighter, “greener” (apples, pears, asparagus) and “honeyed” (peaches, apricots) as opposed to the red and black fruit aromas of Red Grape types.

As the site builds, there will be descriptions of the most common grapes types you will find wine made from nowadays, and more grape types will be explored in the future. Until those pages are here, remember, you can e-mail Stephen if you have any questions on grapes! (Or anything about wine).



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