Familiarize with the
WINE GRAPE VARIETIES
Have you heard of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Chenin Blanc? Or seen them mentioned on wine labels and wondered what it means? They’re not brand names or places. Instead, they're grape varieties used to make wine. A basic understanding of these varieties will help you predict what the wine in your glass will taste like.
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of grapes – one that is used to make wine (belongs to Vitis Vinifera species) and the other that is commonly available in supermarkets (a.k.a table grapes) and is consumed regularly. Table grapes are largely related to Vitis Labrusca and Vitis Rotundifolia species but some belong to Vitis Vinifera species as well. While table grapes are delicious to eat, they don’t make great wines.
There are numerous wine grape varieties cultivated in the world, each different in flavor, aroma, color, sugar, acidity, and tannin, which reflects in the wines they produce.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are two such popular wine grape varieties that are used to make red wines. Though these varieties may look similar to the untrained eye, the resulting wines have distinct taste profiles, aromas, and structures. You’ll often hear people talking about blackberries when referring to a Cabernet Sauvignon and spice when tasting a Shiraz.
It gets more interesting, even overwhelming when we see infinite wines produced from one grape variety such as a Shiraz, by different regions or countries.
Grapes are like any other agricultural crop. It grows well in certain places under certain conditions, and not so well in other places. Geography and climate of the region where the wine grapes are grown add to the wine’s diverse taste. So, don’t be surprised if a wine made from the Shiraz grape variety grown in India tastes different from the wine made with Shiraz grapes grown in France or Australia.