Wine grape varieties come in all shapes and shades and all produce different types of wine. White grape varieties like sauvignon blanc, red grape varieties like Malbec, famous French wine grapes such as pinot grigio or pinot noir as well as less well-known vines from other countries such as the Italian red grape type Montepulciano. Find below all our wine grape types.
Wine vine varieties all come from the Vitis family of plants, which contains both the table and wine making vine varieties such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. Factors including the flesh, taste, water retention and thickness of the skin of the grape as well as the impact of the climate on the vine and its ability to thrive in certain soils, or 'terroirs', heavily influence the quality and personality of the wine. Pinot noir thrives in cooler conditions whereas conversely, Malbec prefers a warmer climate.
Over time, through selective breeding and mutations, growers of wine grapes chose to use the types of vines best suited to the terroir, or those that resulted in quality wine. Some of these most famous of grapes are so successful that they have been brought all over the world to many vineyards. Chardonnay, for example, is a grape variety native to France, specifically the Burgundy region. Due to its popularity, it is now found wherever wine is being produced from New Zealand to South Africa and even England.
Wine grape varieties come in various shades. While white grape varieties like Chenin blanc or Chardonnay can only produce white wine, red grape varieties like pinot noir or shiraz / syrah can actually produce either red wine, white wine or rose wine. This is because the flesh of the grape is not red, only the skin.
The grapes once harvested and crushed are left in contact with the skin for a certain amount of time depending on the wine that is being produced. A red grape type that is destined for a white wine, such as pinot noir when it is being cultivated for champagne, has its skin separated from its flesh immediately not allowing it to take on its skins colour or qualities. A red grape type meant for rose wine is left to settle with the skin for longer and for red wine even longer still. The longer the skin is in contact with the flesh the more the skins flavour, shade and personality are reflected in the wine.
Different wine types are a result of not only the wine grape variety used but also the terroir or environment the vine is grown in as well as the vinification process. The terroir includes factors such as the soil and climate at the vineyard. Chardonnay being such an adaptable grape, and grown so widely, aptly illustrates how the differences in terroir can change the outcome of the wine making. French soils that are typically limestone heavy produce different Chardonnay wine than for example Australian Chardonnay. However even within France Chardonnay isn't all the same, as Chardonnay grown in the south is different to that which is cultivated in the north, the cooler climates produce a more zesty or acidic wine.
Different vineyards and appellations also produce different wines with the same wine grapes because of the vinification process they employ. Between the vinification process and terroir sometimes it is better to find a wine by its region or vineyard rather than simply by its wine grape type. You can find wine by region and vineyard below.