Aglianico (Ah-lee-YAHN-ee-koh)

A black grape grown in the Campania and Basilicata regions of Italy. It is the grape that is used in Taurasi, which is considered the Barolo of southern Italy. Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full bodied with firm tannins and high acidity, making this a wine that has aging potential but is often not easy to drink when young. In well made examples of the wine, it can have chocolate and plum aromas.

Barbera (Bar-bear-a)
A red Italian wine grape variety that, as of 2000, was the third most-planted red grape variety in Italy (after Sangiovese and Montepulciano). It has deep color, low tannins and high levels of acid (unusual for a warm climate red grape). It makes a perfect BBQ wine.

When young, the wines offer a very intense aroma of fresh red and blackberries. In the lightest versions notes of cherries, raspberries and blueberries and with notes of blackberry and black cherries in wines made of more ripe grapes.

Cabernet Franc (Cah-burr-NAY Frahnk)

Cabernet Franc is one of the major red grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone, as in the Loire’s Chinon or in the United States. From France, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Napa Valley, Australia’s Coonawarra region and Chile’s Maipo Valley.

Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon it makes a bright pale red wine and contributes finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, and cassis, and sometimes even wet leaves and tea.

Cabernet Sauvignon (Cah-burr-NAY Sow-vee-NYOH)

One of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is one of the 4 most tannic wines. Trademark flavors are green bell pepper, mint and even eucalyptus (Australia, California). In oak treated Cabernet (most of them) aggressive tannin will be noticeable when the wine is young.

Carménère (Carmen-air-ay)

A wine grape variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used to produce deep red wines and occasionally used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. It is becoming more widely known now through the wines of Chile. The South Americans originally believed it to be Merlot.

Carménère wine has a deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries. The tannins are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon and it is a medium body wine.

Corvina Veronese (Core-vee-nah Ver-oh-NAYZ-ee)

An Italian wine grape variety that is sometimes also referred to as Corvina Veronese or Corvinone. It is mainly grown in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. Corvina is used with several other grapes to create the light red regional wines Bardolino and Valpolicella that have a mild fruity flavor with hints of almond. These blends include Rondinella, Molinara (and Rossignola for the latter wine). It is also used for the production of Amarone (high alcohol dry red wine) and Recioto (sweet red wine).

Corvina produces light to medium body wines with a light crimson coloring. The grapes naturally high acidity can make the wine somewhat tart. The finish is sometimes marked with sour cherry notes. In some regions of Valpolicella, producers are using barrel aging to add more structure and complexity to the wine.

Dolcetto (Dole-CHET-toh)

A black wine grape variety widely grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The Italian word dolcetto means “little sweet one”, but they are nearly always dry wines.

They can be tannic and fruity with moderate, or decidedly low, levels of acidity and are typically meant to be consumed one to two years after release. Another great BBQ wine.

Durif (Doo-reef) = Petite Sirah (Puh-TEET suh-RAH), NOT Petite Syrah

It is the main grape known in the U.S. and Israel as Petite Sirah, with over 90% of the California plantings labeled “Petite Sirah” being Durif grapes.

It produces tannic wines with a spicy, plummy flavor.

Gaglioppo (Gag-lee-oh-poe)

A red wine grape that is grown in southern Italy, primarily around Calabria. The grape produces wine that is full-bodied, high in alcohol and tannins with a need for considerable time in the bottle for it to soften in character. It is sometimes blended with up to 10% white wine.

Gamay (Ga-MAY)

A purple-colored grape variety used to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley around Tours.

Gamay-based wines are typically light bodied and fruity. Wines meant to be drunk after some modest aging tend to have more body and are produced mostly in the designated Crus areas of northern Beaujolais where the wines typically have the flavor of sour cherries, black pepper, dried berry and raisined blackcurrant.

Graciano (Gra-see-ah-no)

A Spanish red wine grape that is grown primarily in Rioja. It’s a key component of Gran Reservas in Rioja and Navarra. The wine it produces is characterized by its deep red color, strong aroma and ability to age well.

Grolleau (Groll-yo)

A red French wine grape variety grown primarily in the Loire Valley of France. The name is derived from the French word grolle, meaning “crow” and is said to reflect the deep black berries of the Grolleau vine. The grape is most commonly made into rosé wine, particularly when it is grown in the Anjou region where is the primarily grape of the Rosé d’Anjou wine. Grolleau wines tend to be low in alcohol and have high acidity.

Grolleau produces light bodied, fairly neutral wines with noticeably high acidity. It is often produced in off-dry to medium sweet style, leaving some sugars in the wine to balance with the acidity.

Lagrein (La-grine)

A red wine grape variety native to the valleys of northern Italy in the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region, near the border with Austria.

Cultivation of Lagrein in Alto Adige usually results in the tannic red wines Lagrein Scuro, or Lagrein Dunkel, or the fragrant rosé wines Lagrein Rosato, or Lagrein Kretzer. In recent years, winemaking techniques have changed, with shortened skin contact and used oak to achieve less aggressive flavors.

Lagrein produces wine which has high acidity and low pH, and is also highly tannic. The variety typically shows a rich berry-fruit mid palate, savory tobacco/leather/mushroom notes and some sour cherry astringency on the finish.

Lambrusco (Lamb-brew-sko)

The name of both a red wine grape and an Italian wine made principally from the grape. The grapes and the wine originate from four zones in Emilia-Romagna and one in Lombardy.

The most highly rated of its wines are the frothy, frizzante (slightly sparkling) red wines that are designed to be drunk young.

Malbec (Mal-BEK)

A variety of purple grape used in making red wine. The grapes tend to have an inky dark color and robust tannins. Long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine, the French plantations of Malbec are now found primarily in the “black wines” of Cahors in the South West France region. Malbec has now found a new resurgence as a single varietal wine in Argentina.

The wines are rich, dark and juicy.

Merlot (Mare-low)

A red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. The name Merlot is thought to derive from the Old French word for young blackbird.

Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Montepulciano (Mon-ti-pull-chi-ano)

A red wine grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy often synonomous with the wine that it makes Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is typically a fruity, dry wine with soft tannins, and as such is often consumed young. This wine should not be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a Tuscan wine made from Sangiovese and other grapes, but not the Montepulciano variety.

Montepulciano is also the main grape varietal, sometimes by itself, in the Rosso Conero wines of Le Marche on the eastern coast of Italy.

Mourvèdre (More-VAY-dreh or More-VEH-dreh)

Mourvèdre-France, Mataró-Portugal, or Monastrell-Spain is variety of wine grape used to make both strong, dark red wines and rosés.

Mourvèdre produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends. It has a particular affinity for Grenache, softening it and giving it structure. Its taste varies greatly according to area, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavor, with soft red fruit flavors.

Nebbiolo (Neb-bee-o-low)

A red Italian wine grape variety predominately associated with the Piedmont region where it makes the (DOCG) wines of Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and Ghemme. It is very acidic and another of the four most tannic wines. As such, Nebbiolo requires patience. It produces lightly colored red wines that can be highly tannic in youth with scents of tar and roses. As they age, the wines take on a characteristic brick-orange hue at the rim of the glass and mature to reveal other aromas and flavors such as violets, tar, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles, tobacco, and prunes. Nebbiolo wines can require years of aging to balance the tannins with other characteristics. It is very rarely grown outside of the northwest region of Italy (Piedmont and Lombardy).

Negroamaro, (Neg-row-am-oar-a) 

A red wine grape variety native to southern Italy. It is grown almost exclusively in Puglia and particularly in Salento. Wines made from Negroamaro tend to be very rustic in character, combining perfume with an earthy bitterness. The grape produces some of the best red wines of Puglia, particularly when blended with the highly scented Malvasia Nera, as in the case of Salice Salentino.

Nero d’Avola (Nair-oh-DAV-ola) 

“The most important red wine grape in Sicily” and is one of Italy’s most important indigenous varieties. It is named after Avola in the far south of Sicily and its wines are compared to New World Shirazes, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavors.

Petit Verdot (Puh-TEET Ver-doe)

A variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. When young its aromas have been likened to banana and pencil shavings. Strong tones of violet and leather develop as it matures.

Pinot Meunier (Pee-know-mun-yeah)

A variety of black wine grape most noted for being the least known of the three main grapes used in the production of champagne (the other two are the black Pinot noir and the white Chardonnay).

Pinot noir (Pee-know-n’war)

Is a red grape grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

It is also used in the production of Champagne (usually along with Chardonnay and Pinot meunier) and is planted in most of the world’s wine growing regions for use in both still and sparkling wines.

The tremendously broad range of bouquets, flavors, textures and impressions that Pinot noir can produce sometimes confuses tasters. In the broadest terms, the wine tends to be of light to medium body with an aroma reminiscent of black cherry, raspberry or currant. Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its fleshy, ‘farmyard’ aromas, but changing fashions and new easier-to-grow clones have favored a lighter, fruitier style.

Pinotage (Pee-know-taj)

A red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety. It is a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut (Cinsaut is known as Hermitage in South Africa, hence the portmanteau name of Pinotage). It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavors, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone.

Plavac Mali (Pla-vac mal-ee)

A cross between ancestral Zinfandel and Dobričić grapes, is the primary red wine grape grown along the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Plavac Mali is known for producing wines that are rich in flavor and high in both alcohol and tannins. Common flavors and aromas include blackberries, dark cherries, pepper, and spices.

Sagrantino (Sag-rin-TEEN-o)

An Italian grape variety that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy. It is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco and its surrounding areas. Sagrantino di Montefalco is not widely known outside of Italy, even though it was granted DOCG status in 1991.

The grape is one of the most tannic varieties in the world, and creates wines that are inky purple with an almost-black center. The bouquet is one of dark, brooding red fruits with hints of plum, cinnamon, and earth.

Sangiovese (San-gee-o-VAY-zee)

The most widely planted red Italian wine grape variety whose name derives from the Latin sanguis Jovis, “the blood of Jove” (the Roman Jupiter).

Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavors of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavors when aged in barrels. The tannins are usually described as “gravelly”.

Sangiovese is actually several varieties of different clones. To simplify, these are some of Sangiovese’s other names (Brunello, Morellino, Prugnolo). It is a main component and often the only grape of Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Carmignano, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano. It often plays a role in the production of “Super Tuscan” wines.

Shiraz (Sher-AHZ)/Syrah (See-RAH)

Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world, used primarily to produce powerful red wines and is one of the four most tannic wines.

It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguay and most of the United States. The name Shiraz (Sher-AS to the aussies) became popular for this grape variety in Australia, where it has long been established as the most grown dark-skinned variety.

Syrah is widely used to make a dry red table wine, which can be both varietal or blended. Four main uses can be distinguished:

• Varietal Syrah or Shiraz. Of the better-known wines, this is the style of Hermitage in northern Rhône or Australian Shiraz.

• Syrah blended with a small amount of Viognier. This is the traditional style of Côte-Rôtie in northern Rhône.

• Syrah as a roughly equal blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon. In modern times, this blend originated in Australia, so it is often known as Shiraz-Cabernet.

• Syrah as a minor blending component for Grenache and Mourvèdre. This is the traditional style of Châteauneuf-du-Pape of southern Rhône, and this blend is often referred to as GSM in Australia.

Wines made from Syrah are often powerfully flavored and full-bodied. The variety produces wines with a wide range of flavor notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown, as well as other viticultural practices chosen. Aroma characters can range from violets to berries (usually dark as opposed to red), chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called “typical” though blackberry and pepper are often noticed. With time in the bottle these “primary” notes are moderated and then supplemented with earthy or savory “tertiary” notes such as leather and truffle. “Secondary” flavor and aroma notes are those associated with several things, generally winemakers’ practices (such as oak barrel and yeast regimes).

St. Laurent (Sant-law-rahnt)

A highly aromatic dark-skinned wine grape variety of the same family as Pinot Noir, originating in France. In Austria, it is primarily found in the regions Niederösterreich and Burgenland.

Tannat (Ta-NOT)

A red wine grape, historically grown in South West France in the Madiran AOC and is now one of the most prominent grapes in Uruguay, where it is considered the “national grape”.

A French Tannat is characterized by its firm, tannic structure with raspberry aromas and the ability to age well. They often have a deep dark color with high level of alcohol. The Tannat wines produced in Uruguay are characterized by more elegant and softer tannins and blackberry fruit notes. It is also one of the 4 most tannic wines.

Tempranillo (Temp-rah-knee-o)

A variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape”. This grape goes by MANY other names (too many to list) but some of the more commonly seen names are Cencibel, Tinto De Toro, Tinto Fino (Spain), Tinta Roriz (Portugal), and Valdepeñas (Spain, California).

Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones are aged for several years in oak barrels. The wines are ruby red in color, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.

Teroldego (tear-awl-day-go)

A red Italian grape variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Italy. Mostly known for the DOC wine it produces, Teroldego Rotaliano. Some California authorities compare Teroldego to Zinfandel, with its spicy red fruits, and hints of tar, pine, and almond, but few tasters would confuse the two varieties in a blind tasting. Its snappy acidity makes it a versatile food wine.

Xinomavro (Greek: Ξινόμαυρο)

The principal red wine grape of the uplands of the Naoussa and Amyntaion areas, in Northern Greece. Various writers have compared Xinomavro to Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Barolo.

Zinfandel  (Zin-fan-dell)

A variety of red grape planted widely in California.  It is generally acknowledge as distinctly American (Californian). DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grape Crljenak Kaštelanski, and also the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Apulia in Southern Italy.

The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States.The grape’s high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent.

The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruits like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.

Zweigelt (Ts-vie-gelt)

A red wine grape variety developed in 1922, at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology at Klosterneuburg, Austria, by Fritz Zweigelt. It was a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent. It is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria, as well as having some presence in Canada’s vineyards.


* the most up-to-date and complete varietal listing I could find to compile this list was Wikipedia. If you would like more information and/or the original references please find them there.

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