Understanding the types of grapes used in wine and their characteristics is vital for any relevant knowledge of wine. Apart from white and Black grapes come from two main families.
Vitis Vinifera, which is prevalent in Europe, and
Vitis Labrusca, which is native to Canada and the eastern United States.
There are over 5,000 varieties of wine grapes. Below are some of the main types, if you click on the two links above you will get a much more in depth description of the links between grape varieties
Cinsaut: Also known (incorrectly) as Hermitage, this grape is mostly used for blending with other, stronger varieties. Cinsaut is the "parent" of pinotage. It is grown in Southern France, Lebanon, Australia and South Africa.
Colombard: These grapes end up making a wine with "tropical fruit" overtones, a light wine to go with seafood. It is used in South Africa and other countries. South Africa also uses Colombard to make brandy.
Cortese: The primary grape for Gavi wine, this grape ripens early and makes a neutral white wine. It is grown primarily in Piedmont, Italy.
Ehrenfelser: Created by crossing the Johannisberg Riesling grape and a Sylvaner grape clone, Ehrenfelser is extremely frost resistant. The wine it creates tastes a great deal like Riesling wine. Ehrenfelser is grown primarily in Canada.
Gamay: This is the grape famous used in Beaujolais Nouveau wine, from France. It is often drunk young in as in these light fruity reds. various types of gamay are used in the US often in Blands.
Gewurztraminer: The first part of the name literally means "spicey" in German. It has a floral taste with nutty tones. Gewurztraminer is also grown in Italy, California, Canada and Australia.
Grande Vidure: Also known as the Carmenére grape, this grape was best known for its use in Medoc wines. While some thought this grape had been destroyed by phylloxera, cuttings were taken to Chile in the mid-nineteenth century, where phylloxera has not arrived yet. The grape is known for problems with coloure and oidium, and produces low yields.
Grenache: Grenache is most often used for rose wine, and is widely planted in France, Spain and California. It is the second most planted grape in the world. Wines made with grenache tend to be sweet and fruity, with little tannin. "Grenache" refers to Grenache Noir, the red variety, but there is also a Grenache Blanc.
Kerner: A German cross of the Riesling grape and Black Hamburg (Trollinger), Kerner is resistant to frost and does well in cooler climates. It has a sweet taste, much like a Riesling wine. The grape does well in cooler areas like Michigan, US.
Lemberger: Also known as Blaufrankish and Limberger. Lemberger is a popular Austrian wine that is also planted heavily in Washington, US.
Maréchal Foch: Early ripening, this grape has very small berries in small clusters. The vines are hardy, though, and make a good range of red wines.