Grape Reference

Red Grape / White Grape

A tough skinned, deeply red fleshed grape, Alicante is often rather neutral in flavor and aroma. Widely popular because of the tough flesh which makes this grape ship well, Alicante is rarely used to make varietal table wine. Most often, it is used for blending as it lends a deep red color and, at times, a slightly coarse robustness to the wine.

Amarone (della Valpolicella)
Is an often-powerful Italian red wine made from dried grapes of the Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara varieties. In Italian, amarone literally means “big bitter.”

Made near Valpolicella, Amarone is made by harvesting ripe grapes and allowing them to dry, traditionally on straw mats. This concentrates the remaining sugars and flavors. Depending on weather conditions, the wine may be influenced by noble rot, although not necessarily in a positive way. The final result is a very ripe, raisiny, big-bodied wine with very little acid. Alcohol content easily surpasses 15%.

The same process can also be used to make a dessert wine called Recioto di Amarone.

Barbera [Bar-BEAR-ah] Not as popular as Merlot but with similar attributes.

Food pairings: Barbera wines are versatile: they match many dishes, including tomato sauces. Young, it drinks well with zesty dished like spicy, tomato based stews or dishes heavy in garlic.

Semi-classic grape commonly grown in the Piedmont region and most of northern Italy. Was probably imported into the U.S.A. late in the 19th century. A dark berried grape, Barbera tends to be a rugged, full-flavored grape high in natural acid. Wine made from Barbera grapes are generally dry, full-bodied and richly colored with a tang that is both flavorful and pleasant to the palate. High in natural acids, Barbera has been known to age well for long periods, perhaps up to ten years.

Cabernet Franc [Cah-burr-NAY Frahnk] One of the parent grape varieties that gave rise to the Cabernet Sauvignon. Mainly found in cooler, damper climatic conditions than its offspring. Widely grown in the Loire region of southwest France. Bordeaux wines commonly contain a blend of both Cabernet varietal wines, a practice increasingly being followed in California and elsewhere. Wine from these grapes has a deep purple color, when young, with a herbaceous aroma. Just like Cabernet Sauvignon. Less complex than Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc pairs well with most any meat or pasta dish.

Cabernet Sauvignon [Cah-burr-NAY Sow-vee-NYOH] Food-wine pairing: Best with simply prepared red meat.

The most austere of the red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is a small, pulpy deep red in color with distinctive flavor and aroma. It produces wines that are medium to dry, full-bodied and deep red in color. The aroma and flavor of Cabernet wines tend to be complex, often woody or reminiscent of herbs. These wines are immensely pleasing to both the nose and palate, especially when given sufficient time to mature. Complex in both aroma and flavor, Cabernet is well paired with beef, lamb, game or any classic French cuisine.

A late ripening, prolific grape, Carignane has been described as being high in everything: color, acid, tannins, and flavor. Because of these qualities, it is often used in blends. More recently, Carignane has experienced a rise in popularity as it produces a varietal table wine that is heavy-bodied and flavorful with a distinct bit. These wines are best paired with hearty ethnic dishes or spicy tomato sauces.

Carmenère [kar-men-nar] Very limited plantings of this red wine grape are now found in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France where it is used to produce deep red wines occasionally used for blending purposes. The world’s largest vineyard area under cultivation of this variety is now found in the Santiago region of Chile, South America. Some claim that, in Chile, some individual plantings of this variety has been mistakenly labeled as Merlot due to certain similarities.

Specifically designed at Cornell University for the cold-climate conditions of New York State’s Finger Lakes region, Cayuga is extensively grown there. This hybrid – a cross between the Seyval Blanc and Schuyler cultivars – has been embraced by winemakers in eastern states and other frost-susceptible parts of North America. It is hardy, disease-resistant and produces quality fruit. It is known for its very large, high-yielding clusters. Early picking is important to maintain the grape’s acidity, fruit character and floral bouquet often associated with Riesling. Cayuga has proven to be a versatile varietal, capable of producing off-dry white wines, sparklers and, on occasion, even oak-aged table wines. The Schuyler grape is a cross between the Zinfandel and Ontario Grape. As we all know, the Zinfandel grape is a “popular” red wine grape from the California Region. While, the Ontario grape is a cross between the Winchell and Moore’s Diamond grape.

Chambourcin is a French Hybrid red wine grape variety which has only been available since the 1960s.The grape produces a deep coloured wine with a full aromatic flavour, and no unpleasant hybrid flavours.

Chambourcin wines are deeply coloured and fruity,with a full aromatic flavour, and no unpleasant hybrid flavours. The ‘foxy’ flavour common to American varieties and hybrids can be detected in some, but not all Chambourcins. Some producers use the variety for sparkling reds, and it is also used successfully for port style wines.

Chardonnay [Shar-dun-NAY] Food-wine pairing: It is a good choice for fish and chicken dishes.

This variety is the best-known white-wine producer grown in France. The Chardonnay vine is widely planted in the Burgundy and Chablis regions. Hugely successful in many regions of the world due to its mid-season ripening and versatility. Australia and New Zealand have succeeded in producing world-class wines in recent years. In its Burgundy, France it’s homeland, Chardonnay was for the sole vine responsible for all of the finest white Burgundy. In the late 20th century however, it was transplanted in most of the worlds wine regions – where varietal labeling has become the norm.

Chenin Blanc [SHEN-ihn, BLAHN] A widely grown white-wine producing variety, known as Steen in South Africa, Pineau de la Loire in the Loire region of France and under the alias name White Pinot (Pinot Blanco) elsewhere in the world. Often made in a number of styles with or without some residual sugar. It is the favored grape of the Anjou region of France and, although naturally a hard, acidic grape slow to mature, is made into fine sweet wines that age well for a least ten years in the bottle. In the U.S. the grape all too often ends up in the generic jug wines of bulk producers as acidity enhancer for otherwise flabby high sugar/alcohol blends.

Cinsault is a very old grape variety grown in the south of France. It prefers well drained soil on sunny hillsides and can withstand very hot environments. Cinsault is an aggressive grower and produces a large crop of large sweet berries. The Cinsault grape makes fairly simple wines that are used for blending with other grapes such as Grenache. Cinsault is one of the parent grapes (along with Pinot Noir) for the Pinotage variety which was developed in South Africa.

Colombard is a variety of wine grape, better known as French Colombard in North America.

Old vine grapes are crushed by some northern Californian producers and made into a fruity white wine of interesting character in both dry and sweet versions. This grape is mainly grown in California to provide backbone, due to its natural acidic character, for white “jug wine” blends. It is still grown in South West France where it is used for white wine blends in certain Bordeaux and Gascony AOC’s and is also used for distilling into brandy. It is also widely grown in South Africa.

Dolcetto is a well-known wine grape variety widely grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy.

The name means “little sweet one,” though it is nearly always a dry wine. It tends to have a dark, rich color with a fruity nose – usually blackberry and blueberry. It pairs especially well with Italian cuisine.

Dolcetto is usually made into fast maturing, fruity and robust dark red wine with faintly bitter flavor. May be identical with the Douce Noir grape of the Savoie region of France and the variety known as Charbono in California. The best known varietal wine made from it is Dolcetto d’Alba made in the Alba, Italy region and Dolcetto d’Asti.

Frontenac’s overall viticultural performance and excellent wine quality are directly responsible for its success in Minnesota, where more of its vines are growing than any other variety. This recently released red wine grape from the University of Minnesota is a cross of French-America hybrid Landot 4511 and Native American Vitis ripara. The vine’s chief advantage is its extremely vigorous and productive nature. The vine is extremely cold hardy, at least to -30°F (approx. -34°C) and has adapted well to the inhospitable winters of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Frontenac is also very resistant to disease, with good resistance to Powdery Mildew and Botrytis bunch rot, and almost complete immunity to Downy Mildew. High sugar levels, along with high acidity, are typical at harvest. Malolactic fermentation is vital to lessen the wine’s acidity. Wines have been described as being deeply colored, with a pleasing cherry aroma, and plum and berry often evident.

A somewhat generous producer, Napa Gamay is a lighter colored, fruity grape. Wines made from Napa Gamay tend to be light-bodied, fresh tasting, and fruity in aroma. Low in acids, they are wines that can be consumed early without hear of harshness or bitterness. Because of its’ fresh, fruity flavor and lack of bitterness Napa Gamay is a good wine for those who are just beginning to develop a taste for wine. These qualities also make Napa Gamay a complementary pairing with most any everyday meal.

Grenache [gren-aash or gren-ash] Garnatxa negre, Grenache Noir, or Garnacha is a sweet red grape variety grown primarily for the making of wine. It grows well in hot, dry regions and is grown in southern France, Spain, South America, Australia, and California’s Central Valley.

It is usually blended with other varieties, rather than made into a varietal wine. In France it is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône blends, especially Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is also frequently used to make lighter, rosé wines in France and Spain.

Gewurztraminer [Gah-vurtz-tra-meener] A very aromatic variety.

Food-wine pairing: Ideal for sipping and with Asian food, pork and grilled sausages.

Districts: Best-known in Alsace, Germany, the USA West Coast, and New York.

Typical taste in varietal wine: Fruity flavours with aromas of rose petal, peach, lychee, and allspice. A Gewürztraminer often appears not as refreshing.

(Johannisberg) Riesling [yoh-HAHN-ihss-berk, REES-ling] aka White Riesling in New York state (USA), Ontario and British Columbia (Canada), Riesling in Germany, Rheinriesling in Austria, Riesling Renano in Italy and Rhine Riesling in Australia). A white-wine producer variety widely grown along the Rhine river and tributaries – (e.g: Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Mosel, Nahe regions etc.) – in Germany and also in other cool temperate regions of Europe. It is also grown in N. America, where it can produce a flowery, fruity dry wine with high acid and low alcohol not unlike the german “Kabinett” version or a semi-dry style with some residual sugar similar to the German “Spätlese” version. If infected with appropriate amounts of “botrytis”, it can make outstanding late-harvest wines – (e.g: comparable to the German “Auslese” series). The Finger Lakes region of New York state in the U.S. and the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada produce excellent dry versions in the Mosel and Alsation styles in addition to consistent freezing temperature extracted juice made into “ice-wine,” “eiswein.”

Lambrusco is the name of both a red grape and an Italian varietal wine made principally from the grape.

The grapes and the wine originate from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, principally around the central provinces of Modena, Parma, and Reggio nell’Emilia. The most highly-rated of its wines are the frothy red wines that are designed to be drunk young from one of the four Lambrusco DOCs: Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, and Lambrusco Reggiano, each of which corresponds roughly to its use of sub-varieties of the Lambrusco grape of the same name.

Although traditional Lambrusco is almost entirely cork-stopped, dry red wine, the Lambrusco Reggiano DOC is also used to make amabile (slightly sweet) wine through use of up to 15 percent of the Ancellotta grape. This Lambrusco wine became hugely popular in the United States in the late 1970s when over 3 million cases were exported there each year. This valuable export market has led the vineyards to create cheap, flavourless white, rosé and low-alcohol versions that has led to the name Lambrusco being almost universally shunned by the new generation of wine drinkers.

Malbec [mahl-BEHK] Food pairings: All types of meat-based meals.

Semi-classic grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France and in other areas under the names Médoc Noir, Côt or Pressac, while in the Alsace it has the local name Auxerrois. Also grown in the cooler regions of California. The vine is widely planted in Chile where it is being used to produce very popular varietal wines. As a varietal it creates a rather intense, inky, red wine so it is also commonly used in blends, such as with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, to create the renowned red French Bordeaux “claret” blend. In California and other areas it is increasingly being used for the same blending purpose.

Malvasia [mal-vah-SEE-ah; mal-VAH-zha] A grape that has existed for about 2,000 years. It’s believed to have come from the area around the Aegean Sea, possibly from what is now the southwestern area of Turkey and the islands between Turkey and Greece. Malvasia is primarily a white-wine grape, but it has many known subvarieties, including a red version called Malvasia Nera. The red grape is chiefly grown in Italy-around Piedmont in the north and Puglia in the south. It produces very perfumy wines and lends a delightful fragrance to some Italian red wines. The white variations are better known, the most recognized strains being Malvasia Bianca del Chianti, Malvasia del Lazio, Malvasia delle Lipari, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia di Sardegna, and Malvasia Istiana (or Malvasia Friulana). These white varieties are grown all around the Mediterranean in one form or another. They produce golden, perfumy, flavorful wines with hints of apricots, musk, and almonds. Unfortunately, Malvasia is not an extremely high-yielding vine and is being replaced by better-producing but less-flavorful grapes such as trebbiano in Italy and Viura (macabeo) in Spain. Malvasia is made into a variety of finished wines-dry, sweet, fortified and sparkling-but probably is best known for its sweet fortified products. On the island of madeira, the Malvasia variety is called Malmsey and is combined with tinta negra mole and verdelho. The sweetest and richest style of Madeira wine is also often referred to as malmsey. In Portugal, some port makers use Malvasia grapes in their white port. The vermentino grape, grown on corsica and sardinia, is thought to be related to Malvasia as well. Malvasia Bianca is also grown in California, mostly in the central valley, and is used primarily in sweet fortified wines. Malvasia is also called Blanca-Roja, Früher Roter Malvasier, and Malvoisie (although most French Malvoisie is not Malvasia), as well as a host of other names beginning with “Malvasia.”

Malvoisie (Black)
A little planted variety, Black Malvoisie tends to be a sweet, delicate flavored grape. Wine made with Black Malvoisie grapes is often sweet and subtle, but high in alcohol. This variety is also commonly used in the making of dessert wines because of the subtle character and high sugar content.

Merlot [Mehr-LOW] A classic grape widely grown in the Bordeaux region of France and elsewhere. The red wine bears a resemblance to Cabernet Sauvignon wine, with which it is sometimes blended, but is usually not so intense, with softer tannins. Matures earlier than Cabernet Sauvignon, with mid-late ripening. Moderate cold-hardiness. In California it is a popular varietal on its own and also as a percentage constituent of the red wine blend resembling Bordeaux claret called “Meritage.” It does extremely well in the state of Washington and shows great promise on Long Island, N.Y. Results in the Finger Lakes region of N.Y., where it ripens in early October, have been mixed due its relative lack of cold-hardiness and the fruit subject to bunch rots. Recently some have claimed that many of the labeled Chilean varietal wines are actually of the Carmenère variety. Other countries such as Argentina and New Zealand also seem to have a suitable climate for this variety.

Mixed Black
This is our own specialty house pack of the finest, most flavorful black wine grapes. Wine is made from mixed black boxes will generally be medium to deep in color and medium to full-bodied. The aroma and flavor of this wine will vary with each year, but one can always expect a unique bouquet and flavor of this wine will vary with each year, but one can always expect a unique bouquet and flavor ranging form flowery and fruity to musky or woody. Wines made with the mixed black pack are generally fun sipping wines because sipping allows time to savor and explore the unique blend of flavors and aroma.

Muscat [Mus-CAT] Italy (Moscato)
Food-wine pairing: Muscat shows best on its own: without food.

Another family of clone varieties, making both red and white wines. Most are of the muscat type, having the unique aromatic character commonly associated with muscat wines. These include the Muscat Blanc, Muscadel, Moscato di Canelli. These clones are mostly used for making medium-sweet and dessert style table or fortified wines. Small acreages of Orange Muscat in the Central Valley of California allow a local variation of this wine to be made by at least one producer, a situation that also occurs in Australia. Hot climate producers of sparkling wines often use the various Muscat grape clones to create wines in the style of Italian Spumante.

Italy Muscat (Moscato) grows throughout Italy in various forms. In dessert form it is either passito or fortified.

Muscat Orange
Orange Muscat is a white grape variety. There is some disagreement about whether it really is closely related to the other muscat varieties.

As the name suggests orange muscat wines have a strong aroma of oranges. In some wines this is quite overpowering, and it gives the impresion that the wine will be sweet. This is not always the case. Some orange muscats are dry, just as some aromatic Gewurztraminers are quite dry.

An Italian grape that makes wines of medium body, rich color and nice tannin structure. It is the primary grape used to make Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Nebbiolo [nehb-bee-OH-loh] A late ripening variety, which probably lends to the deeply complex aroma, Nebbiolo grapes are deeply colored and high in natural acids. They tend to produce wines rich in color, aroma, and tannins with a character that has been described anywhere form earthly to floral. Like the Cabernets, Nebbiola is best left to mature for longer periods which allows the flavor and aroma to deepen. It pairs well with beef, lamb, wild game, or any heavily seasoned meat.

‘Noiret’ (“nwahr-ay”)
A mid-season red wine grape, is a complex interspecific hybrid resulting from a cross made in 1973 between NY65.0467.08 and ‘Steuben.’

‘Noiret’ represents a distinct improvement in the red wine varietal options available to cold-climate grape growers,” said Reisch. “Wines are free of the hybrid aromas typical of many other red hybrid grapes. The distinctive red wine is richly colored and has notes of green and black pepper, with raspberry and mint aromas, and a fine tannin structure.” Care should be taken to grow ‘Noiret’ on sites less susceptible to extreme winter temperatures and downy mildew, noted Reisch.

Petite Sirah [peh-TEET sih-RAH] Historically has been something of a “mystery” vine. As a side note, there is a grape variety (group is probably a better definition) in California called Petite Syrah. This name probably originally applied to Syrah vines that were brought from the Rhone valley (possibly from the Hermitage) around 1870. In the years since that time, the name has been applied to a great many old red grape vines in California. It has included what we now know to be Durif, Peloursin and many others. In short, Petite Syrah has nearly become a generic name rather than a true indication of a grape variety. Petite Sirah tend to be dry, deeply colored, puckery wines best suited to heavy, ethnic dishes or highly seasoned meats. Wines made with Petit Sirah grapes are long-lived and will probably mellow some over time.

When first imported into California this variety somehow acquired the subject name possibly as a result of a labeling error confusing it with Petite Syrah. Traditional Californian wine blends under the name of Petite Sirah produce dark red, tannic wines in the warmer regions of California, used mainly as backbone for Central Valley “jug” wines. In the cooler northern regions, where many very old vines still exist, it is often made into a robust, balanced red wine of considerable popularity.

Pinot Blanc
The Pinot Blanc grape is used to produce light, dry, pleasant white wines. It is grown in Alsace (France), California (USA), Italy, Germany and Austria. It has been grown in Burgundy and was sometimes mistaken for Chardonnay. The two varieties look very similar and there are some similarities in the wines they make. Pinot Blanc is often referred to as “poor man’s Chardonnay”. These wines should be consumed young before the fruit flavors diminish.

In Austria, the Pinot Blanc grape is known locally as Weissburgunder.

A red grape that was developed and is grown in South Africa. It makes smooth textured wines with lots of fruit flavors. Pinotage is a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

Pinot Noir [pee-noh NWAHR] Food-wine pairing: Excellent with grilled salmon, chicken, and lamb.

The premier grape of the Burgundy region of France, producing a red wine that is lighter in color than the Bordeaux reds such as the Cabernet’s or Merlot. It has proved to be a capriciously acting and difficult grape for N. American wineries, best results being obtained in cool, fog-liable regions such as the Carneros region of northern California. This grape is an under appreciated, versatile delight. With medium colored berries that are both tart and fruity as well as spicy and earthy, Pinot Noir produces sensual wines redolent of berries, flowers, or autumnal spice. Lower in tannins, these wines are best consumed young, making them a popular alternative to the Cabernets. Soft, slightly sweet and fruity or spicy, Pinot is a perfect complement to a good steak or other hearty beef dishes.

Pinot Grigio [pee-noh GREE-zOH”] Synonym name of the Pinot Gris where grown in Italy. Planted extensively in the Venezia and Alto-Adige regions where it can produce crisp, dry wines with good acid “bite.”

Pinot Gris [pee-noh GREE] Mutant clone of Pinot Noir. Has several synonym names in France, eg. Fromentau in the Languedoc, Malvoisie in the Loire or Pinot Beurot in the Burgundy region where it is selectively used in blends because it produces high sugars. In Germany and Austria it is known as the Ruländer or Grauer Burgunder where it is used to make pleasant, young, white wines in the southern regions. Similar aliases are used in the german settled regions of Australia. In northeastern Italy it is known as Pinot Grigio. Versions named Auxerrois Gris and Tokay d’Alsace are also grown in the Alsace where the latter variety is used to make a golden-yellow wine with aromatic, fruity flavors that improves with a couple of years in the bottle – (not to be confused with the Hungarian Furmint grape used to make the famous “Tokaji” sweet wines). Also grown in western coastal regions of the U.S.A. where it ripens earlier than Chardonnay.

Most often used for blending because of high yields and moderate pricing, Palomino grapes tend to be a non-distinct variety which produces wines with low acidity and fermentable sugars. It is, therefore, ideal for blending in order to mellow a highly acidic wine or to lower the sugar, or brix, in order to control the alcohol levels in wine. It is also often used in the production of sherry or sherry-style fortified wines.

Riesling [REES-ling] Riesling should taste fresh. If they do, then they might also prove tastier and tastier as they age.

Food-wine pairing: Dry versions go well with fish, chicken and pork dishes.

Also known as the Weisser Riesling. Premier white wine grape of Germany and Alsace, known as Rheinriesling in Austria and Riesling Renano in Northern Italy. (See (Johannisberg) Riesling above).

Ruby Cabernet [ROO-bee ka-behr-NAY] Developed at the University of California, Davis, Ruby Cabernet has its parentage in Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane grapes. It is a vigorous producer, yielding grapes which are redolent of the Cabernets. Wine made from Ruby Cabernet tends to be dry, somewhat richly flavored, with aromas that very from earthy to herbaceous. It is best paired with red meats or game.

Sangiovese [San-jo-VAY-zay] Food-wine pairing: A good choice for Italian and other Mediterranean-style cuisines.

Increasingly popular, Sangiovese is a variable red grape with medium color and a character that ranges anywhere from leathery to fruity. It tends to ripen a bit later, often creating higher tannin levels. This lends to longer life in wines make with this varietal grape. Wines made with this grape are light to medium in color, variable in flavor and aroma, and though longer lived than the Pino Noir, are often best consumed relatively young.

Sauvignon Blanc [SOH-veen-yown, blahnk] Food-wine pairing: A versatile food wine for seafood, poultry, and salads.

Classic white-wine producer variety commonly planted in the Bordeaux and eastern Loire regions of France. A premium quality grape, Sauvignon Blanc is distinctively medium-bodied, and aromatic. It produces crisp wines which range form dry to sweet, with complex character ranging from grassy or herbaceous to musky. It is served both as a dinner wine to complement the flavor of poultry or seafood and with dessert, though this is more common with the sweeter varieties or blends. Wines made from this grape are often found under names like Fume Blanc or Blanc de Sauvignon. The reason is unclear and sometimes confusing, however, the tendency is to name attach the Fume name to wines which are more dry and the Sauvignon name to wines which tedt to be sweeter.

Seyval Blanc (a.k.a. Seyval)
Well suited to cool climates, this popular French-American hybrid is the second most planted vine in England, behind Müller-Thurgau. The variety is also popular in Canada and the eastern U.S., particularly New York State. Reliably productive and an early ripening (usually mid to late September) Seyval Blanc is made into crisp white wines, with no foxy flavor, or sometimes into off-dry versions where the tart nature of the variety is balanced with residual sugar. Some producers have employed such enhancing techniques as barrel fermentation and/or aging, and malolactic fermentation to improve the quality of its sometimes neutral character and lack of intensity. The fruit is highly susceptible to botrytis bunch rot.

Shiraz [SHEAR-oz] Alternate name for the french Syrah clone grape grown in Australia and responsible for very big red wines that are not quite as intense in flavor as the french Rhone versions. In the past it was also known under the alias name Hermitage.

Syrah [See-RAH] Food-wine pairing: Meat (steak, beef, wild game, stews, etc.)

A grape variety associated with the Rhone Valley region of France, famous for creating “Hermitage” red wine. In southern France some regard the grape as taking two forms, the Grosse Syrah and Petite Syrah, distinguished only by berry size. Experts reject this distinction but it has in the past led some wine producers in North and South America to mistake California vineyard plantings of Petite Sirah, which produces a very dark red and tannic wine judged simple in comparison to the true Rhone Syrah, as the latter grape. DNA analysis has now shown (Meredith C.P., et al., “Am. J. Enol. Vitic.” 50(3): 236-42 1999) there is in fact a probable cross-variety relationship. In the cooler regions of Australia a (presumed) clone of the Rhone variety, once known as the Scyras, is grown very successfully and now known as Shiraz. In the state of California, depending on location, vintage or fermentation technique, the grape is used to either produce a spicy, complex wine or a simple wine. Considerable acreage is grown in South Africa, and also in Argentina where it has historically been called the Balsamina grape until the late 1960’s.

Tempranillo is usually blended with other grape varieties, being low in both acid level and sugar content. It is the major component of the well-known Rioja wines. Its wines can be consumed when young, but are considered at their best when aged, especially when aged in oak. It is lightly coloured and ages well in American and sometimes French oak.

Tempranillo is known by numerous other names in the regions it is grown. In California, it is also known as Valdepeñas, which in other parts of the world is a Denominación de Origen for (Tempranillo-also called Cencibel) wines from the Valdepeñas region in Spain.

Until recently, some suspected that Tempranillo was related to the Pinot Noir grape, but recent genetic studies tend to discount this possibility.Tempranillo is a variety of vitis vinifera, the red grape used commonly in winemaking. It is native to northern Spain, and widely cultivated in both northern and central Spain It is also fairly common in Argentina, and plays a minor role in the wines of two regions of Portugal, the central Alentejo, where it is known as Aragonez and used in red table wine blends of variable quality, and Douro, where it is known as Tinta Roriz and mainly used in blends to make port wine.

Thompson Seedless
Planted widely in California, Thompson Seedless has it’s roots in the production of table grapes and raisins. It has become more widely used in the wine industry for it’s indistinct, neutral quality which makes it perfect for blending because it is able to fortify wines without compromising the character of varietal grapes.

Traminette [Tra-Min-Ette] ‘Traminette’ ripens between 1 Oct. and 15 Oct. in New York. Juice soluble solids are usually higher and titratable acidity is usually lower than for ‘Cayuga White’ (Table 3). The balance between sugar, acidity and pH is excellent. These data indicate that ‘Traminette’ can accumulate satisfactory amounts of sugar while maintaining sufficient acidity and a low pH. It does not lose acidity as quickly during ripening as does ‘Cayuga White’. Wines, which were first made in 1972, have been described as distinctively spicy and fragrant, much like the ‘Gewürztraminer’ parent. The wine has good body and no noticeable flavors characteristic of interspecific hybrid grapes. Skin contact for 12 to 48 hours (40 o to 50 °F) helps to enhance the desirable spicy, floral aromas. Excessive bitterness due to prolonged skin contact has not been observed. Wines may be finished dry or semi-dry depending on preferred style. When the grape is fully ripe and when processed with some skin contact, the aromas of ‘Traminette’ are very similar to those of ‘Gewürztraminer.’ ‘Traminette’ wine differs from ‘Gewürztraminer’ in structure and mouthfeel; it does not have the strong fresh ground spice flavors with phenolic bitterness as is characteristic of very ripe ‘Gewürztraminer.’ On the other hand, it does not get the bitter taste that ‘Gewürztraminer’ may develop. ‘Traminette’ also maintains a lower, more favorable, wine pH.

Trebbiano [Treb-bee-AH-no] The Trebbiano grape is also known as Ugni Blanc. It is planted in France, Italy and Australia and is used for making wines as well as brandy. Its wines are usually dry and high in acid.

As Ugni Blanc, it is the primary grape used in producing Cognac.

The Valdepena has always had a faithful following, prized for the smooth, ripe wines it produces and for the mellowing effect it has when used in blends. Somewhat thick skinned and deep red in color with generous amounts of natural acid, these grapes produce wines which tend to be medium to deep red in color, earthy in aroma (varying form vanilla to tobacco or leather), and early maturing. Because of it’s smooth, pleasant quality and varying aroma, Valdepena serves well with pasta or meat dishes and as a wine to sip alone.

Verdicchio is a grape variety from Italy that produces a wine of the same name. Verdicchio (the grape) is a rapid growing, high acid grape grown almost exclusively in Central Italy where it is thought that the grape developed. This grape has a yellowish green color. Verdicchio grows best in well drained soils of sand and limestone.

Verdicchio (the wine), is slightly green-yellow in color and has a delicate bouquet. It is medium bodied with surprisingly strong flavors, a crisp acid balance and a slightly bitter finish. It is best consumed within the first two years from the vintage date. Most bottlings of Verdicchio allow up to 15 percent of other grapes to be blended in. Trebbiano and Malvasia are the two other grapes that are permitted.

Vermentino is a late-ripening white grape originating in Spain or Madeira, or perhaps Portugal, and now widely planted in Corsica, Sardinia, and the coastal arc running from Tuscany through Liguria and into southern France, around Nice (where it is known as Rolle). It is thought to be related to the Malvasia variety and to have been have been brought to Italy in the fifteenth century during the period of Spanish domination.

The leaves are dark green and pentagonal. The grapes are amber-yellow and hang in pyramidal bunches.

The vines are often grown on slopes facing the sea where they can benefit from the additional reflected light.

Vidal Blanc [vee-dahl BLAHN (BLAHNGK)] A French-American hybrid grape developed by crossing Ugni Blanc and Seibel 4986 (another hybrid). Vidal Blanc (officially known as Vidal 256) is grown in the eastern United States. The grapes have high sugar and good acid levels, with nice but rather neutral flavors. The wines are vinified in a variety of styles from dry to sweet. Ice wines with good flavor and richness have been made from frozen Vidal Blanc grapes in a style similar to German Eiswein.

Viognier [vee-own-YAY] Has been planted much more extensively around the world since the early 1990s. Both California and Australia now have significant amounts of land devoted to the Viognier grape. There are also notable increases in planting in other states in Australia, the United States and in other countries.The best quality Viognier wines are well-known for their floral aromas, due to terpenes, which are also found in Muscat and Riesling wines. There are also many other powerful flower and fruit aromas which can be perceived in these wines, depending on where they were grown, the weather conditions and how old the vines were, with vines greater than twenty years old thought to be superior to younger vines. Although some of these wines, especially those from old vines and the late-harvest wines, are suitable for aging, most are intended to be consumed young. Viogniers more than three years old tend to lose much of the floral aromas that make this wine unique. Aging these wines will often yield a very crisp drinking wine which is almost completely flat in the nose.

Zinfandel [Zin-fan-DELL] Food-wine pairing: very much depends on the freshness/heaviness of the wine; tomato-sauce pastas, pizza, and grilled and barbecued meats.

An important grape variety, also thought to be the variety once known as Black St. Peter in early 19th century California lore, currently grown in California and used to produce robust red wine as well as very popular “blush wines” called “white Zinfandel”. The oldest vines found in the Dry Creek and Amador regions are notable for their ability to produce superior juice; eg. the “Bevill-Mazzoni” clone from the Dry Creek appellation was recently reported (7/2000) as yielding excellent results even as a young vine. Zinfandel is noted for the fruit-laden, berry-like aroma and prickly taste characteristics in its red version and pleasant strawberry reminders when made into a “blush” wine. While its origins are not clear it has been positively identified, via DNA analysis at UC Davis (California), as the Primitivo (di Gioia), a variety grown in Apulia, southern Italy. According to an Italian report of 1996 the latter variety may have a relationship to members of the Vranac variety cépage grown in Montenegro, the state that, combined with Serbia, constitutes what remains of the former Yugoslavia. Other contenders were certain mutated members of the Mali Plavac, (a.k.a Plavac Mali), cépage varieties which are mainly grown in the coastal area known as Dalmatia, a province of Croatia recently a part of the former Yugoslavia and located just across the Adriatic sea from the shores of Italian Apulia. Research is presently (7/98) underway to explore possible relationships. The origin of the grapename “Zinfandel” in California is currently not known but is thought by some to be a corruption of Zierfandler, a completely unrelated white variety still grown in the Balkan region of Europe. It has been noted that mid-19th century catalogs mention a red (ie. “roter”) mutation of that variety. A plausible hypothesis is that a naming error arose due to attribution and shipping mistakes made during unreliable early-19th century transport and handling to New World destinations. The lifespan of Zinfandel is somewhat shorter than that of other reds, averaging from four to six years. The variability of Zinfandels make them a good pairing for any number of meat, pasta, or poultry dishes.