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Grape varieties

bunch of red grapes

Aromas and flavours vary considerably according to region of origin, wine-making techniques and the age of the wine. They are particularly affected by the climate and by the use of oak. However, these are some of the most typical characteristics for you to look out for. Structure and texture influence the way the wine feels in your mouth. As with aromas and flavours, these are affected by origin and wine-making but tannin and acidity levels are mostly determined by the grape variety itself.

Black grape varieties

Variety

Typical aromas and flavours Structure and texture
Cabernet Sauvignon Blackcurrant, black cherry, green pepper, mint, eucalyptus, cedar and cigarbox (from oak) Firm tannins
Merlot Plums, damsons, black cherry, chocolate, spice, leather Supple, soft and velvety
Syrah/Shiraz Pepper, black cherry, black olives, baked rubber, leather Firm tannins
Pinot Noir Strawberries, cherries, earthy, farmyard, gamey Smooth, silky tannins, fresh acidity
Grenache/ Garnacha Open and fruity, black fruits, spices, black olives, leather, often high alcohol Juicy, low in tannin
Tempranillo Scented, strawberries, leather, spice, vanilla (from US oak), tobacco Soft and luscious, low acidity
Nebbiolo Perfumed, tar and roses, woodsmoke, undergrowth Very firm tannins, high acidity
Sangiovese Cherry, plum, savoury tomato, leather, farmyard Firm tannins, high acidity
Zinfandel Rich, raisiny black fruit, spice, high alcohol Full-bodied

White grape varieties

Variety Typical aromas and flavours Structure and texture
Chardonnay Variable, ranging from citrus and minerals to ripe tropical fruit, buttery, toasty (from oak) Soft, rounded, full
Sauvignon Blanc Minerals, nettles, asparagus, green pea, grassy, gooseberry, passionfruit Crisp acidity
Riesling Scented, lemon, lime, peach, minerals, petrol (with age) High acidity, mouthwatering
Sémillon Grapefruit, grassy, citrus, honey and nuts (with age), can be quite neutral Oily, low acidity, fat
Muscat Grapey, scented, orange blossom, elderflower Light and fresh
Chenin Blanc Green apples, pears, quince, minerals, wet wool, lanolin, honey (with age) High acidity
Gewürztraminer Highly aromatic, rose petals, lychees, floral, exotic, often high in alcohol Full bodied, low acidity
Viognier Aromatic, apricots, peaches, honeysuckle, bitter almond, often high in alcohol Full and luscious