Key Wine Grape Varieties

Find out more about the key grape varieties used to make fine wine around the world. In each grape guide, we have suggested a few wines that we think you should try if you’re exploring different varieties.

White Varieties

Chardonnay

South African wines have become some of the world’s best valued fine wines and of the highest quality.

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Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc originates from the Loire Valley. Extremely versatile, it produces dry, medium-dry, sweet and even sparkling wines.

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Riesling

Wine lovers are devoted to this noble grape, which is considered by many to be one of the world’s greatest white varieties.

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Sauvignon Blanc

An early-ripening variety that thrives in the Loire Valley, Bordeaux and the Cape, where it is often blended with Sémillon.

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Sémillon

The dominant variety in Sauternes’ sweet wines but it’s commonly used in many wine regions as a blending component.

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Pinot Gris/Grigio

Pinot Gris, or Grigio in Italy, is a white grape with greyish pink skin and is thought to be a mutant clone of Pinot Noir.

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Viognier

A classical Rhône Valley variety, Viognier produces full-bodied, golden whites that tend to be aromatic and textured.

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Red Varieties

Cabernet Franc

A classical Rhône Valley variety, Viognier produces full-bodied, golden whites that tend to be aromatic and textured.

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Cabernet Sauvignon

A natural crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, it originated in Bordeaux and is known as the ‘King of Grapes’.

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Cinsault

Cinsaut is a workhorse grape and thrives in hot, dry climates. It has been dubbed the 'Pinot Noir of the Swartland'.

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Grenache

Grenache is a versatile grape variety and is widely planted in the Rhône Valley, Spain, Australia and the US.

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Merlot

Merlot is one of the most widely planted red varieties in the world and is an important component of classic Bordeaux blends.

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Mourvèdre

Mourvèdre is a thick-skinned variety that prefers very warm climates and produces powerful, earthy and savoury reds.

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Pinot Noir

Growing this fickle, low-cropping variety is extremely challenging but, made well, it produces captivating, complex wines.

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Sangiovese

Sangiovese is the principal black grape of Tuscany. Top-end Sangiovese wines are some of the world’s most sought-after reds.

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Shiraz/Syrah

A titan of the Northern Rhône, world-class Syrah is also produced in New World regions, including South Africa and Australia.

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Tempranillo

Tempranillo is Spain's noble grape. Outside Spain, the variety is grown in Argentina, Australia, Turkey and South Africa.

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