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 WINE PRIMER

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Red Wine Grapes 

Variety Origin Wine Style
Aglianico Greek Tannic, tarry wines of great breed and lasting power from southern Italy.
Alicante French Hybrid. Undistinguished grape with highly coloured juice, teinturier.
Baco Noir French Hybrid. Full-bodied, deep colour, smoky blackberry flavour.
Barbera Italian Medium colour, high acid, dry quaffing wine.
Cabernet Franc French (Bouchet) Usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. Medium-weight, herbaceous wines suggestive of violets and raspberries.
Cabernet Sauvignon French Deep ruby colour, black currant and cedar nose, full-bodied, tannic when young. Capable of long ageing. Softened with Merlot, Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux and in California and Australia.
Carignan Spain Widely planted, high yielding. Astringent table wine with good colour, used for blending.
Cinsault French Hot-weather grape, deep colour and meaty flavour, low tannins. Good for blending.
de Chaunac French Hybrid. Acid, tough red, slightly smoky in flavour.
Dolcetto Italian Deep-coloured, soft, fruity wine, not for ageing.
Freisa Italian Garnet colour, light, dry wine tasting of raspberries.
Gamay French Grape of Beaujolais. Fresh, fruity, light-bodied wines tasting of cherry and plums with peppery finish. Fast maturing.
Gamay Beaujolais California Hybrid. Pinot Noir–Valdiguié crossing. Not very distinguished. Fruity flavour, high acid.
Grenache (Garnacha/Cannonau) Fruity, high alcohol, low tannins, soft. Good for rosé. Fast maturing.
Grignolino Italian Light colour, fragrant strawberry aroma, very dry.
Kadarka Hungary (Gamza) Powerful, deep, full-bodied wines.
Lambrusco Italy Light, grapey, fruity, off-dry wines.
Malbec French (Cot) Early maturing, low acid, blackberry flavour. A lesser blending grape in Bordeaux.
Maréchal Foch French Hybrid. Deep-coloured, peppery, plummy, acidic wine.
Merlot French Purple, full-bodied wines, blackberry flavour. Less tannic and earlier maturing than Cabernet Sauvignon. Ages very well.
Mourvèdre Spanish (Mataro) Deep-coloured, powerful wines with a spicy blackberry taste.
Nebbiolo Italian (Spanna/Chiavennasca) The noble grape of Piedmont producing long-lasting wines that take time to soften. Brick red, truffles and violets on the nose with an austere dry finish.
Petite Sirah French Californian name for the French Duriff. Full-bodied, deep-coloured wines with peppery flavour.
Pinot Noir French (Pinot Nero/Spätburgunder) One of the grapes of Champagne and the grape of red Burgundy. Difficult to cultivate. Garnet colour, barnyard bouquet, raspberry flavour, medium weight. Ages very well.
Pinot Meunier French Secondary grape of Champagne. Fruity, acidic, low alcohol.
Pinotage S. Africa (Hermitage) Pinot Noir–Cinsault crossing. Robust, powerful red, inky nose. Fast maturing, ageing potential.
Primitivo Italy Massive black wines of high alcohol and intense fruit. Thought to be progenitor of the Californian Zinfandel.
Ruby Cabernet California Carignan–Cabernet Sauvignon crossing. Deep-coloured, fruity wines but lacking the finesse and breeding of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Sangiovese Italian A Chianti grape usually blended with Canaiolo. Earthy, truffle-scented wines with fine acidity and ample tannins. Capable of long ageing.
Syrah Middle East (Shiraz) Powerful black, aromatic wines tasting of blackberries and white pepper. Capable of long ageing.
Tempranillo Spanish (Ull de Llebre) Pinot Noir-like character. Pale ruby colour, coconut and sandalwood bouquet. Dry strawberry flavour. Ages elegantly.
Touriga Naçional Portugal The best port grape. Intense dark wine with high tannin and a lovely berry nose. Other port grapes include Mourisco, Tinta Francisca, Tinta Amarella, Tinta Cao and Touriga Francesa.
Xynomavro Greek Black wines of high acidity and tannin that age well.
Zinfandel California Versatile grape that can produce powerhouse to medium-weight reds, rosés and blush wines. Characterized by a blackberry flavour and intense fruit. Also late harvest with port-like sweetness.

 

 

 

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