Wines by Grape Type...
Aglianico - Almost exclusive to Italy, this full-bodied wine has high tannin and acidity while producing flavors of black cherry, plum, black berry, fig and pomegranate.
Barbarossa - Found primarily in Italy and France, this is a medium-bodied, fruity red wine.
Barbera - More than three-quarters of the world's Barbera is grown in Italy, with the U.S. being the second largest producer. This medium-bodied wine can have big fruit flavors of black cherry, black berry, and plum. Unoaked Barbara highlights the cherry and berry flavors while oaked Barbara can take on richer fruit flavors with hints of chocolate.
Cabernet Franc - Nearly two-thirds of the Cabernet Franc is grown in France where it is commonly blended in Bordeaux wines. But on its own, Cabernet Franc is medium-bodied with moderate fruit flavors of plum, raspberry, strawberry and roasted red pepper. The Cabernet Franc grape is the parent Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cabernet Sauvignon - This full-bodied wine has high tannin and big fruit flavors that include black currant, black cherry, blackberry and red currant. This is used in Bordeaux blends.
Carignan - A medium-bodied wine with big fruit flavors of black currant, black berry, raspberry, cranberry and plum (prune). Two-thirds of Carignan is grown in France where is used in blended wines.
Carménère - Three-quarters of Carménère is grown in Chile. This medium-bodied wine has fruit flavors of plum, raspberry, blackberry and green bell pepper. When unbaked, this wine highlights the red fruit flavors while oaked version tend to accentuate flavors of blueberry, black pepper, with hints of chocolate and caramel.
Gamay - Predominantly grown in the Beaujolais region of France, this light-bodied wine tends to be higher in acidity with moderate fruit flavors of raspberry, red currant, and sour cherry. Beaujolais Nouveau (made from the Gamay grape) is sold in its vintage year within a couple of months of harvest. It has flavors of bubble gum and banana!
Grenache: This medium to full-bodied wine is lighter in color and can exhibit flavors of candied fruit, orange rind, and ruby red grapefruit. Depending on where it is grown, it can also take on flavors of raspberry, cherry, licorice, oregano, lavender and tobacco. This is also included in the Rhône blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourv`dre (GSM).
Malbec - Nearly two-thirds of Malbec is grown in Argentina while France also is a large producer. This is a full-bodied wine with big fruit flavors of plum, blue berry, and black cherry. Oak aging adds chocolate and tobacco flavors.
Mencía - Three-quarters of the Mencía is produced in Spain with the remaining being grown in Portugal. This medium to full-bodied wine has moderate fruit flavors of blackberry, blue berry, raspberry and pomegranate. This high acidity wine is often compared to Merlot.
Merlot: This dark red full-bodied wine can have big flavors of black cherry, raspberry and plum with essences of tobacco, vanilla, mocha and clove. Often found to be smooth, rounded and easy drinking compared to a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Montepuliano - Almost exclusively grown in Italy, this medium to full-bodied wine has moderate fruit flavors of boysenberry, cherry and plum (prune). While this wine is produced in several regions of Italy, the majority comes from Abruzzo and will be identified as Montepluciano d'Abruzzo on the label.
Mourvèdre - Spain produces more than two-thirds of the world Mourvèdre with France being the second largest producer. This full-bodied wine has high tannin and big fruit flavors of blackberry, boysenberry, and plum. Oak aging adds chocolate and tobacco flavors. This is also included in the Rhône blends of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre (GSM).
Nebbiolo - Ninety percent of Nebbiolo is grown in Italy's Piedmont and Lombardy regions. This full-bodied wine has big tannins and high acidity. Fruit flavors include cherry, fig and cranberry with leather coming from oak aging. Look for these wines having 'Barolo' or 'Barbaresco' on their labels indicating the sub-regions where they are grown in Piedmont.
Negroamaro - Translating as "black bitter" this grape is nearly exclusively grown in Italy. This is a big fruit flavored wine with black berry, plum (prune), and black cherry dominating the taste.
Nero d'Avila - Another wine nearly exclusively grown in Italy. This full-bodied wine has high tannin and big fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry, raspberry, and plum.
Petit Verdot - Grown in France, Spain, Australia, South Africa and Chile, this full-bodied wine has big tannin and fruit flavors of blueberry, black cherry, and plum. While produced as a single varietal wine, this is commonly used in blending wines, including France's Left Bank Bordeaux.
Petite Sirah - There is nothing petite about this wine, other than the small grapes used to make it. This full-bodied wine has high tannin and big fruit flavors of blackberry, plum, black cherry and plum (prune). Oak aging can bring out flavors of chocolate and pepper.
Pinot Noir - A light to medium-bodied wine with flavors of fresh red cherries, black cherries, strawberries, raspberries, cola and vanilla. The red wine produced in Burgundy is made from the Pinot Noir grape.
Pinotage - Most all Pinotage is grown in South Africa. This is a full-bodied wine with moderately high tannin and fruit flavors that include black berry, fig, black cherry and red cherry. This grape is a cross between Cinsaut and Pinot Noir.
Sangiovese: This wine, when grown and produced in the Italian Chianti region, is called Chianti. Everywhere else, Sangiovese is a varietal with flavors of strawberry, cherry, leather and tobacco with lingering fruit flavors.
Syrah/Shiraz - Referred to as Shiraz in Australia, this full-bodied wine is grown throughout the world with France, Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa and the U.S. being the largest producers. This wine has big fruit flavors of plum, blackberry and blueberry while oak aging adds chocolate and tobacco hints.
Tempranillo - This is Spain's top wine where nearly 80% of all Tempranillo is grown. This full-bodied wine has big tannin. Fruit flavors include cherry, strawberry, blackberry, fig and raisin.
Touriga Nacional - This wine nearly exclusively grown in Portugal. It is a full-bodied wine with high tannin and big fruit flavors of plum, blueberry, and raspberry. While commonly used in the production of Port, Touriga Nacional is also used to make varietal wine.
Zinfandel - While this grape originated in Italy where it is called Primitivo, now nearly two-thirds of Zinfandel is grown in the U.S. This full-bodied wine has big fruit flavors of blackberry and boysenberry. These are often referred to as "jammy" Zinfandels. Others can take on a peppery flavors similar to bell pepper, white pepper or black pepper. When heavily oaked, this wine can also have flavors of caramel, chocolate and tobacco.
Wines by Region...
Barbaresco (Italy) - Produced from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.
Beaujolais (France) - The only grape permitted to be used is the Gamay grape. Light bodied, fresh and fruity reds are labeled Beaujolias. Beaujolais-Villages is slightly fuller bodied with greater fruit intensity. The Crus Beaujolias wines are more perfumed, luscious, concentrated and more complex.
Bolgheri (Italy) - The whites are made from Verminetino, Sauvignon Blanc, Trebbiano and other grapes. The reds are at most 50% Sangiovese, along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and others.
Bordeaux (France) - Bordeaux wines can be produced from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
Borolo - Produced from 100% Nebbiolo grapes.
Brunello de Montalcino - Produced from 10% Sangiovese in Tuscany's Montalcino district.
Burgundy (France) - Burgundy wines are generally produced from Pinot Noir and Gamay.
Beaujolais (France) - Producing wines from the Gamay grape that are generally light and fresh. Legally, most producers may use up to 15 percent of white varieties in the blend, but almost all the region's red wine is 100% Gamay. The top ten "Crus" or vineyard areas, having their own appellation title. Generally speaking, the wines of Chiroubles, Regnie and St.-Amour are the lighter-bodied wines, while those from Julienas, Fleurie, Morgon, and Moulin-a-Vent are fuller-bodied.
Beaujolais Nouveau (France) - The 'Beaujolais Nouveau' wines are made with shorter fermentation periods and the wine is bottled within weeks of harvest. Released on the third Thursday of November, these wines are very bright, fresh, red-fruit flavored (cherry, strawberry, raspberry) that are very soft and easy to drink.
Chianti (Italy) - Sangiovese must comprise at least 75% of a Chianti with Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon or the white Trebbiano or Malvasia making up the rest. Chianti Classico is considered of better quality and is often identified by the black rooster on the label.Chianti Riserva is the best quality and must be aged 2 years. After 2006, no white grapes are permitted in the blend of Chianti Classico.
Haut- Medoc (France) - Wines of Haut-Medoc (oh-may-dahk) Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Hermitage (France) - The wines of Hermitage (air-mee-taj) are full-bodied, complex, big, lush and tannic reds made from the Syrah grape. Flavors of raspberry, cassis, black currant, pepper and spice are prominant.
Medoc (France) - Medoc (pronounced may-dahk) is primarily produced with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Montepluciano (Italy) - Primarily Prugnolo Gentile (a clone of Sangiovese) with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Rhone (France) - Northern Rhone wines only account for approximately 5% of wine production and are predominately Syrah. Southern Rhone wines are generally Grenache based with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. Often they may be referred to as GSM since they are produced from Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
Rioja (Spain) - Tempranillo is the primary grape used in Rioja wines, while Grenache, Carsignan adn Graciano are also used. The wines from La Rioja Alavesa adn La Rioja Alta (sub-zones of the Rioja DOC) are more delicate than those made in La Rioja Baja which are bigger, higher alcohol wines.
Super Tuscan (Italy) - While there are no rules for Super Tuscan's (that's why they were created), they can use Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot or Syrah. The common themes in Super Tuscans are intensely fruity, rich, thick texture that are aged in French oak.
St. Emilion (France) - Generally produced with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.
Valpolicella (Italy) - Primarily made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes.
Red Wine Blends...
Meritage: (Rhymes with heritage) An invented term, used by California wineries, for Bordeaux-style red and white blended wines. Combines "merit" with "heritage." The term arose out of the need to name wines that didn't meet minimal labeling requirements for varietals (i.e., 75 percent of the named grape variety). For reds, the grapes typically used include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.