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White Wine Varietals>>

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Red Wine Varietals

There are over 2500 different wine grape varieties. Here are a few that are the most important red wine varietals:

Cabernet Sauvignon (CAB-err-nay SO-veen-yawn)
Considered the most successful red grape in California, Cabernet Sauvignon is responsible in large part for the great Châteaux wines of the Bordeaux region of France, as well as outstanding wines from all around the globe. The best examples are well structured, medium – to full bodied with rich, complex FLAVORS AND INTENSE BOUQUET. Flavors of berries, especially currants and blackberries, even cherries combine often with hints of cedar, tobacco, and chocolate to make this varietal appealing. Assertive tannins contribute often to tremendous aging ability. Most California versions of this wine have been made 100% of the grape variety, but in recent years many producers have blended in percentages of Merlot and Cabernet Franc to add complexity.

Gamay (Ga- MAY)
This is the red wine grape of the Beaujolais district in the southern Burgundy region as well as the Loire Valley of France. Gamay is a generally light-bodied, fresh, soft, fruity wine (no tannins) noted for charm and easy-to-drink-ability. It is extremely versatile with food.

Sangiovese (SAN-gee-o-vay-zay)
Sangiovese is the leading red wine grape in the Italian region of Tuscany. Chianti is its principal wine. It is also being grown to a small degree in California. Sangiovese produces a wine with medium body that is rarely very dark in color, slightly spicy, and very fragrant with aromas and flavors of bitter cherries, herbs and licorice.

Merlot (Mair-LOW)
Merlot is a distinguished red wine grape, as important as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in the Bordeaux region, where it contributes softness, fruit and suppleness to many famous wines that would otherwise be less approachable. Merlots are wines that are medium or full-bodied, often velvety smooth, less tannic and astringent, allowing earlier maturity than Cabernet. Flavors of black cherry, raspberry and cocoa as well as toasty oak make this wine a big hit among customers. Merlot is very successfully grown in California, Australia, Washington, and South America, although because of its recent surge in popularity, you can buy Merlot from nearly anywhere in the world.

Pinot Noir (PEE-no nwar)
The great grape of the Burgundy region of France where it is responsible for some of the most famous wines in the world. It is also one of the principal grapes in Champagne and most sparkling wines. Pinot Noir produces a very different red wine than which Americans are generally accustomed. The nature of the grape produces a wine with less color and tannin. Its supple texture and elegant flavors usually emphasize berry and floral characteristics, though some styles lean toward earthy and spicy. The wines are typically dry and medium to medium–full bodied and are neither as powerful, deeply colored nor as tannic as Cabernet Sauvignons. However, well-made Pinot Noirs have been known to age well. California, Oregon and Australia have emerged recently as excellent producers of Pinot Noir.

Syrah (Sir- RAH)
Syrah grows in France’s Rhone region where it is one of the blending grapes uses in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. It has been grown to great success in California and Australia (where it is known as Shiraz). Syrah makes a deep-colored wine, rough, highly tannic and peppery in its youth, but which can mature to a big generous, velvety wine. It is generally long live.

Zinfandel (ZIN-fan-del)
The most widely planted red grape in California, Zinfandel is European in origin, but there is much debate as to where the grape originates- the latest wisdom tells us it comes from the Dalmatian slopes of the Adriatic Sea in what is now Croatia. California has provided the ideal soil and climate for it to grow. Zinfandel leads to a number of wine styles, from light and fruity Beaujolais style, to medium-bodied wines with more character and structure, to ripe , rich, muscular, tannic, intensely-flavored and long –lived wines.

White Zinfandel is not a red wine and not a white wine. It is a blush-colored wine make from the RED Zinfandel grape. The slight pink color results from fermenting the just-pressed juice in contact with the skins for a short time to lightly color the wine. For the most part, a White Zinfandel is semi-sweet and very east to drink, although, many have no complexity and little excitement. It can be great “training wheels” wine – a good starting point for new wine drinker and a fine out-on the patio wine.

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