|Wine and Wine Grapes
There are literally hundred of wine grape varieties grown throughout the world. Does each variety really differ so much from one another in appearance, aroma, color, and taste? In a word, YES! Each variety of grape, whether newly developed or archaic in origin, is distinctly different and produces wine which reflects the uniquely individual character of that grape
How, then, does one go about choosing a particular variety given the vast array of choices? One way is to begin to understand a bit about the qualities of each individual variety. With this basic understanding, it is more likely that you will choose wine, wine grapes, or fresh pressed juices that suit you particular taste.
The most prestigious of the white varietals. This timeless grape could easily be the most favored white grape on the market today. Generally dry and tart with a pleasant acidity, the juice of this grape appears anywhere from straw yellow to pale gold in color. Complex and varying in bouquet and color, some aging is important in achieving the full potential of Chardonnay. It is, in fact, one of the few whites which can age well for up to 6 or 8 years.
Chenin Blanc is a very underestimated white grape. The characteristics are generally light and fruity with an agreeable sweetness and a distinct herbal honey flavor. Like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc benefits form some aging to release more distinct flavors, but does not have the staying power of Chardonnay. Because of its pleasantness, Chenin Blanc is ideal for sipping alone as well as serving with food.
This is an aromatic white grape which has historically been used for blending to add acidity and aroma to other white wines. Full bodied, crisp, with a highly aromatic, perfumy character, French Colombard is sometimes used alone to create a distinct and aromatic wine that complements spicy dishes.
A light grape variety which produces medium to sweet wines that are very aromatic and full bodied. The aroma of Malvoise wine will vary from a flowery, perfumed character to a distinct orange blossom aroma. This is a good wine for those who enjoy sweet wines or those who are just beginning to drink wine. It is best served well chilled and makes a great sipping wine for a warm afternoon.
A very old grape with a great history, Muscat grapes range in color from pale gold to golden brown. Named for the particularly musky scent, this grape will produce wines that are distinctly delicate and aromatic. Wines made form Muscat grapes tend to be refreshingly sweet and pale to deep golden color. They are often best when well chilled and make a good dessert wine or one which can be served alone for sipping.
Most often used for blending because of high yields and moderate pricing, Palomino grapes tend to be a non-distinct variety which produces wines with low acidity and fermentable sugars. It is, therefore, ideal for blending in order to mellow a highly acidic wine or to lower the sugar, or brix, in order to control the alcohol levels in wine. It is also often used in the production of sherry or sherry-style fortified wines.
A premium quality grape, Sauvignon Blanc is distinctively medium-bodied, and aromatic. It produces crisp wines which range form dry to sweet, with complex character ranging from grassy or herbaceous to musky. It is served both as a dinner wine to complement the flavor of poultry or seafood and with dessert, though this is more common with the sweeter varieties or blends. Wines made from this grape are often found under names like Fume Blanc or Blanc de Sauvignon. The reason is unclear and sometimes confusing, however, the tendency is to name attach the Fume name to wines which are more dry and the Sauvignon name to wines which tedt to be sweeter.
Planted widely in California, Thompson Seedless has it's roots in the production of table grapes and raisins. It has become more widely used in the wine industry for it's indistinct, neutral quality which makes it perfect for blending because it is able to fortify wines without compromising the character of varietal grapes.
Somewhat scarce in supply, this grape has a deep yellow color and a fruity aroma, often reminiscent of peaches or apricots. It produces a high quality, highly colored wine rich in aroma and low in acid. It is one of the few wines which can be consumed young and is often best that way as the low acid levels make this a wine which may fade quickly.
back to top
A tough skinned, deeply red fleshed grape, Alicante is often rather neutral in flavor and aroma. Widely popular because of the tough flesh which makes this grape ship well, Alicante is rarely used to make varietal table wine. Most often, it is used for blending as it lends a deep red color and, at times, a slightly coarse robustness to the wine.
A dark berried grape, Barbera tends to be a rugged, full-flavored grape high in natural acid. Wine made from Barbera grapes are generally dry, full-bodied and richly colored with a tang that is both flavorful and pleasant to the palate. High in natural acids, Barbera has been known to age well for long periods, perhaps up to ten years. Young, it drinks well with zesty dished like spicy,, tomato based stews or dishes heavy in garlic.
Closely related to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, Cabernet Franc is an early maturing grape lighter in color and considerable lower in tannins. It produces a wine which is light to medium bodied with woody or herbaceous aromas that are distinct while the wine is young, unlike it's relative, Cabernet Sauvignon. Though it was once most widely used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon because of it's ability to strengthen without compromising character of flavor, Cabernet Franc is experiencing a recent surge in popularity as a varietal table wine. Less complex than Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc pairs well with most any meat or pasta dish.
The most austere of the red grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon is a small, pulpy deep red in color with distinctive flavor and aroma. It produces wines which are medium to dry, full-bodied and deep red in color. The aroma and flavor of Cabernet wines tend to be complex, often woody or reminiscent of herbs. These wines are immensely pleasing to both the nose and palate, especially when given sufficient time to mature. Complex in both aroma and flavor, Cabernet is well paired with beef, lamb, game or any classic French cuisine.
A late ripening, prolific grape, Carignane has been described as being high in everything: color, acid, tannins, and flavor. Because of these qualities, it is often used in blends. More recently, Carignane has experienced a rise in popularity as it produces a varietal table wine that is heavy-bodied and flavorful with a distinct bit. These wines are best paired with hearty ethnic dishes or spicy tomato sauces.
A cross between Carignane and Cabernet Sauvignon, Carnelian is a hearty producer, yielding grapes which are often neutral in flavor and aroma. It is popular in blends as it lends some of the stronger features of its parentage without compromising the flavor and aroma of the varietal with which it is being blended.
A little planted variety, Black Malvoisie tends to be a sweet, delicate flavored grape. Wine made with Black Malvoisie grapes is often sweet and subtle, but high in alcohol. This variety is also commonly used in the making of dessert wines because of the subtle character and high sugar content.
A rather widely planted variety, Grenache is used both in blending and in the making of distinctive varietal table wines. It is lightly colored sweet grape which tends to produce somewhat pale red wines that are slightly to moderately sweet with distinctly strong flavor. Much of the Grenache finds its way into blends, enhancing the quality with its’ sweetness and strong flavor. It is popularly used in making Rose wines.
This is our own specialty house pack of the finest, most flavorful black wine grapes. Wine is made from mixed black boxes will generally be medium to deep in color and medium to full-bodied. The aroma and flavor of this wine will vary with each year, but one can always expect a unique bouquet and flavor of this wine will vary with each year, but one can always expect a unique bouquet and flavor ranging form flowery and fruity to musky or woody. Wines made with the mixed black pack are generally fun sipping wines because sipping allows time to savor and explore the unique blend of flavors and aroma.
A somewhat generous producer, Napa Gamay is a lighter colored, fruity grape. Wines made form Napa Gamay tend to be light-bodied, fresh tasting, and fruity in aroma. Low in acids, they are wines that can be consumed early without hear of harshness or bitterness. Because of its’ fresh, fruity flavor and lack of bitterness Napa Gamay is a good wine for those who are just beginning to develop a taste for wine. These qualities also make Napa Gamay a complementary pairing with most any everyday meal.
A late ripening variety, which probably lends to the deeply complex aroma, Nebbiolo grapes are deeply colored and high in natural acids. They tend to produce wines rich in color, aroma, and tannins with a character that has been described anywhere form earthly to floral. Like the Cabernets, Nebbiola is best left to mature for longer periods which allows the flavor and aroma to deepen. It pairs well with beef, lamb, wild game, or any heavily seasoned meat.
Petite Sirah produces a highly colored, vinous grape often used for blending to increase color or tannins. Wines made from Petite Sirah tend to be dry, deeply colored, puckery wines best suited to heavy, ethnic dishes or highly seasoned meats. Wines made with Petit Sirah grapes are long-lived and will probably mellow some over time.
This grape is an under appreciated, versatile delight. With medium colored berries that are both tart and fruity as well as spicy and earthy, Pinot Noir produces sensual wines redolent of berries, flowers, or autumnal spice. Lower in tannins, these wines are best consumed young, making them a popular alternative to the Cabernets. Soft, slightly sweet and fruity or spicy, Pinot is a perfect complement to a good steak or other hearty beef dishes.
Developed at the University of California, Davis, Ruby Cabernet has its parentage in Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignane grapes. It is a vigorous producer, yielding grapes which are redolent of the Cabernets. Wine made from Ruby Cabernet tends to be dry, somewhat richly flavored, with aromas that very from earthy to herbaceous. It is best paired with red meats or game.
Increasingly popular, Sangiovese is a variable red grape with medium color and a character that ranges anywhere from leathery to fruity. It tends to ripen a bit later, often creating higher tannin levels. This lends to longer life in wines make with this varietal grape. Wines made with this grape are light to medium in color, variable in flavor and aroma, and though longer lived than the Pino Noir, are often best consumed relatively young.
The Syrah grape is characterized by moderate berries of a deep, dense nature. Intense in aroma and high in natural acids, the Syrah grape makes wines which age well for long periods of time. Wine made with Syrah will be medium to dark in color with a rich, heady aroma and flavor. It takes time, however, for Syrah to mature to these qualities, making it a wine that should not be consumed young lest you favor a highly astringent wine. Well matured Syrah is a noble wine making it a complement for many complex meat or game dishes.
The Valdepena has always had a faithful following, prized for the smooth, ripe wines it produces and for the mellowing effect it has when used in blends. Somewhat thick skinned and deep red in color with generous amounts of natural acid, these grapes produce wines which tend to be medium to deep red in color, earthy in aroma (varying form vanilla to tobacco or leather), and early maturing. Because of it’s smooth, pleasant quality and varying aroma, Valdepena serves well with pasta or meat dishes and as a wine to sip alone.
This widely planted, black-skinned grape exhibits a variety of qualities reminiscent of the individual growing region. Prized originally for its ability to produce, Zinfandel is becoming more appreciated as a producer of good varietal wines. Wines made from Zinfandel grapes are often dry, vigorous reds with flavor and aroma that vary form somewhat fresh and delicate to heavier and more robust. It is not uncommon for Zinfandels to have just a hint of sweet. The lifespan of Zinfandel is somewhat shorter than that of other reds, averaging from four to six years. The variability of Zinfandels make them a good pairing for any number of meat, pasta, or poultry dishes.
back to top
Everyone's passion. Who can resist a good Rose' Light bodied, pink in color, this light semi-sweet wine is an easy drinking favorite with food or all by itself. It has added delight of being a quick maturing wine in need of little aging.
*Serves well with hor d'oeuvres, finger foods or sipped alone.
back to top