Everybody knows that grapes are the plants that are used to make wine, with white grapes producing white wine and red grapes making red wine plants.
However, not many people realize that there are actually over 10,000 different varieties of grapes grown all over the world!
Obviously, it’s pretty difficult to tell the differences between most of these varieties by just looking at them but many have been developed over hundreds of years to produce the finest possible wine.
In this list, we’re taking a look at some of the best wine-making grapes and examining what it is that makes them so delicious in a rich, alcoholic beverage.
What Makes A Wine Grape Different From A Table Grape?
Interestingly, not all grapes that are for making wine will taste that good when eaten on their own.
One of the main differences between the two is the parent species that varieties can derive from. For example, the majority of wine grapes are part of the Vitis Vinifera species, whereas table grapes tend to belong to the Vitis Labrusca and Vitis Torundifolia species.
In terms of the grapes themselves, wine grapes tend to have a smaller size which concentrates the flavors more intensely.
This results in wine grapes having a higher sugar content, on average, which results in a higher alcohol content during fermentation.
Most Common Red Wine Grapes
A type of win that most people will be familiar with, the merlot grape is also one of the most commonly in use wine grapes in the world.
It originated in France, and they say that the name comes from the French name for a blackbird.
Whilst it is most widely planted in the Bordeaux region of France, the grapes can also be seen growing in areas like California, Australia, Chile, and South Africa.
The grape itself grows with a fairly soft texture and ripens particularly early in the season which gives the wine a distinctly fruity, soft flavor.
Another grape that is French in origin, the pinot noir commonly grows in cooler climates than other grape varieties.
It is mainly akin to the Burgundy region of Eastern France, where the grape predominantly grows.
Interestingly, it is a fairly versatile grape when it comes to making wine and is in use to produce champagne, Italian Franciacorta, and English sparkling wines, among others.
Of course, like most of the world’s most popular wine grapes, pinot noir has nowadays been in plenty of other countries around the world and grows prosperously in North America, Australia, South Africa, and plenty of other well-known wine-making regions.
This is another grape from the Bordeaux region and commonly a mixture of the aforementioned Merlot grape to produce an exquisite red wine.
One can now find this growing in every major wine-producing region of the world, due to its immense popularity.
Interestingly though, it is one of the more recently developed hybrid grape varieties in the wine world.
The creation was in the 17th century only by crossing Cabernet Franc grapes with Sauvignon blanc grapes.
The produced result was a plant that could withstand some very harsh growing conditions, budding late in the season to avoid the frostiest temperatures.
They also grow with fairly thick skin which makes them ideal for transporting across countries without much risk of them being overly run-down. Talk about a farmer’s best friend!
Both of these names actually refer to the same red grape variety. It’s a very dark red grape that is in use for a range of win-making purposes, either as a single varietal grape or as a blend with others.
Nobody knows exactly where the grape originated but many believe it was first found growing in the Rhone region of Southern France, whilst others argue it was Montpellier.
Regardless of where it came from, one cannot see it growing in every wine-making region in the world and produces a very powerful flavor as a drink.
It has a particularly fruity and spicy flavor that some inexperienced wine drinkers may find unpleasant.
Those of you who are less familiar with wines may have never heard of the grenache grape before but it’s actually one of the most widely planted varieties in the world.
However, it ripens fairly late on in the season and requires hot climates to grow healthily.
That’s why you’ll most commonly see these grapes growing in Spain, Sardinia, Australia, and California.
The wine that these grapes are able to make is generally quite spicy but still has powerful tones of fruitiness throughout.
Grenache wine also has a fairly high alcohol content compared to most other varieties, mainly due to the high level of sugar found in the grapes themselves.
The final red wine grape we’re looking at is the zinfandel; a very dark, almost black-colored grape.
This variety grows in over 10% of all Californian vineyards but scientific analysis of the grape shows it to be closely related to some Croatian-native varieties.
Like most grapes, it made its way around European countries like Italy and France before being introduced to the United States in the 19th century.
It has a similarly high sugar content to the previous variety we looked at and thus produces a very strong alcoholic wine.
Most Common White Wine Grapes
This particular wine is famous all over the world and features prominently in international art and literature.
Like many other popular grape varieties, it is native to the Burgundy region of France. And is now commonly farmed in every wine-making area in the world.
It produce a wine with a fairly neutral flavor, perhaps something that contributes to its universal popularity.
It is also a key component in making a great range of sparkling wines, including champagne. And can be made into a single varietal wine or blend with other grapes.
Another very well-known white wine variety, the sauvignon blanc grape gets its name from the French words for ‘wild’ and ‘white’.
However, there’s nothing too wild about the flavor of the white wine that this grape produces. Which is incredibly refreshing and crisp.
Because this grape grows all over the world. It can interestingly produce wines with varying flavors, depending on the climate.
For example, cooler climates give sauvignon blanc a floral, more acidic flavor. On the other hand, sauvignon blanc grapes grown in warmer conditions supposedly have a much fruitier taste.
This particular white wine grape variety originated in the Rhine region in Germany and Switzerland.
This is a fairly cool climate in comparison to the majority of other popular wine grape origin locations. Which supposedly gives the Riesling wine a distinctly apple-like flavor.
Interestingly, some of the most expensive Riesling wines are made by allowing the grapes to hang on their vines well beyond the normal harvesting time.
This allows a fungus known as ‘noble rot’ to evaporate much of the water in the grapes. Leaving them with an altogether more complex flavor, boasting great acidity, sweetness, and richness.
You’re probably familiar with pinot grigio wine that is produced using this variety of grape.
It doesn’t appear much like a typical white wine grape at first, sporting a distinctively grayish-blue color. In fact, the grapes can even grow in shades of light pink and golden yellow under certain conditions.
This bizarre growing pattern makes this a very versatile grape for wine-making. And the pinot gris have a particularly spicy and full-bodied flavor.
Hailing from the Loire Valley in France, the Chenin blanc grape is famous to have a fairly acidic flavor. Which suits it well to being made into sparkling and dessert wines rather than regular white wines.
Interestingly, it is nowadays the most widely planted grape variety in South Africa. And is thought to have been one of the first-ever grape varieties grown in the country.
This is another grape that has its flavor affected by the climate in which it grows. And in cooler regions, the Chenin blanc have even higher levels of acidity and a fruitier taste.
The final grape for our wine plants list is the Semillon. Which is famous to be a very high-yielding crop and produces plenty of fruit per plant.
It mostly makes dry, fairly sweet wines and grows primarily only in France and Australia. Though it is still farmed less frequently in other countries.
It is another Bordeaux native and records of its cultivation date back to the early 18th century.
This grape is a particular friend to farmers who grow them as it is resistant to a number of diseases. It also produces a good yield, and even ripens earlier than most other varieties.
As we said at the start, there are tens of thousands of different grape varieties. Many of which is in use to make delicious wine.
If you can think of any other wine-making grapes that we didn’t have space to include. You can consider yourself something of a connoisseur yourself!
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