Grape Varieties in wine making

There are over 600 different varieties of grapes to be found in the world. A very small percentage of these varieties can be used, however, in producing good quality wines. While these grapes can be used to produce wines, only a few can be designated as "noble grapes" capable of producing some of the finest wines. But even these noble varieties are subject to being grown properly in a good climate and soil in order to make excellent wine.
Common white grapes include Riesling, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay. There are lesser known, more intriguing white grapes to be explored as well. Malvasia is a white grape planted in Italy and around the world. It has pear and spice flavors mixed with other fruity flavors. Malvasia makes an excellent dessert wine; in other wines, it does not age well and requires early consumption. Columbard is a widely grown grape which is used in the production of many generic white wines. Although the grape does not produce good quality wine on its own, the grape has astounding production quantities averaging 10 tons per planted acre. Melon de Bourgogne is a French planted grape. It is the only grape which produces Muscadet. Muller Thurgau is a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner and is primarily grown in Germany. It is a semi-dry grape which matures early, therefore thriving in cooler climates.
Red grapes, too, extend beyond the common Merlot, Zinfandel, and Shiraz. Touriga Nacional is a Portuguese grape which makes some of the finest port wines. The grape grows and spreads rapidly, but its yield, however, is very small. Dolcetto is primarily planted in Northern Italy, but has some growing in California. The grape’s use is diminishing, but it makes a soft fruity wine. Gamay is a French grape variety which produces fruity wines low in acidity and very light. The wines are meant to be consumed early before they become too light or acidic. Cinsault is a very old French variety of grape which is a parent of the Pinotage grape variety. It grows and spreads quickly and produces abundant sweet berries. Durif is a grape developed in France and is resistant to powdery mildew. It is mainly grown in California and Australia now because it thrives in warmer climates. The grape’s flavor is much subjected to the winemaker’s own style.
In order to be a true appreciator of fine wines, one must not only have a knowledge of where and how to purchase good wines, but also where and how these wines came to be. Even when one thinks he/she knows all that there is to know about wine, the different grape varieties are just as abundant and complex as types of wine. One cannot begin to understand all of the complexities involved in the hybrid creations of grapes, each different one having its own traits and needs. It’s not just red and white grapes anymore.

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About The Author, Ian Love
Ian Love is director of Perth Restaurants group West Valley, which runs Coco's Perth restaurant, Raffles Hotel Perth & Bellhouse Seafood restaurant