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Understanding Wines By The Characteristics of Their Varietals

July 03, 2018 2 min read

Understanding what a grape should be as a wine is fundamental, and knowing what a grape can achieve at its greatest is the essence of fine-wine appreciation.

This cross chart gives you a summary of various wines based on 4 different characteristics - fruitiness, earthiness and how light or bold the wines are. We will also be explaining the use and characteristics of the grape varieties below.


Varietals refer to the specific variety or type of grape used to produce a wine. For example, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are two different types of red wine grape varietals.


- Primarily used for blending in Bordeaux

- Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, creates a bright light red wine that adds finesse

- Gives a peppery scent & additional aromas can include raspberry, pepper & tobacco


CABERNET SAUVIGNON (Red) [cab-er-NAY SO-vin-yon]

- One of the world's most recognised red wine grape varietal

- Classic characteristics tend to be full-bodied wines with high tannins and acids

- Has the potential to produces rich and bold wines


CHARDONNAY (White) [shar-dun-NAY]

- One of the finest grapes for producing white wines

- Green-skinned grape variety that makes consistently excellent, rich and complex whites

- Originates from the Burgundy wine region of eastern France


MALBEC (Red) [MAHL-beck]

- A purple grape variety used in making red wine

- Inky dark colour and robust tannins 

- Creates an inky red and intense wine

- Brings very deep colour, ample tannin and a particular plum-like flavour component


MERLOT (Red) [mur-LO]

- A dark blue-coloured wine grape variety for blending and varietal wines

- Produces wines with blackberry, black plum and black cherry notes



- A classic grape of Burgundy and Champagne


- Thin-skins and low levels of phenolic compounds result in the production of mostly light coloured, medium bodied with low tannins wines. 


- When young, wines made from Pinot noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries




- A green-skinned grape variety, originating from the Bordeaux region of France

- Found mainly in the Loire, at Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. 

- Commonly associated with descriptions such as "Crisp, elegant and fresh"

- Pairs well with fish, cheese and even sushi


SYRAH or SHIRAZ (Red) [sih-RAH or shih-RAHZ]

- A dark-skinned grape variety grown worldwide, primarily used to produce red wine

- Capable of rendering rich, complex and distinctive wines with pronounced pepper, spice, black cherry, tar, leather and roasted nut flavors, a smooth, supple texture and smooth tannins

Wines made from Syrah are often powerfully flavoured and full-bodied