There are 20 different red wine grapes that are incredibly popular worldwide, despite the fact that only a few red wine grape varieties (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir) may receive the majority of attention from wine connoisseurs.
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Red Wine Grapes And Varieties (Top 20)
Here’s a closer look at each one, emphasising which wine areas use these grapes to make the best wines.
Read our full guide on each grape below the table...
|Red Grape Type||Wine Areas|
|Cabernet Sauvignon||Bordeaux (France), Napa Valley (California), Coonawarra (Australia)|
|Merlot||Bordeaux (France), Italy, Chile, California, Washington State|
|Pinot Noir||Burgundy (France), Italy, Chile, California, Oregon|
|Syrah/Shiraz||Rhone Valley (France), Chile, South Africa, Australia, California, Washington State|
|Malbec||Mendoza (Argentina), Chile (Central Valley)|
|Grenache||Rhone Valley (France), Spain|
|Montepulciano||Central and southern Italy regions|
|Tempranillo||Ribera del Duero and Rioja (Spain)|
|Carmenere||Chile (Central Valley)|
|Blaufrankisch||Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, Hungary|
|Petit Verdot||Bordeaux (Médoc region)|
|Nero d'Avola||Sicily (Italy), Malta, Turkey|
|Mourvedre||Rhône and Provence (France), Valencia and Jumilla (Spain)|
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most well-known and well-liked red wine grape varietals in the world.
While the Bordeaux wine region in France has historically produced Cabernet Sauvignon, winemakers in the Napa Valley in California and the Coonawarra wine region in Australia are also producing world-class Cabernet Sauvignon wines, some of which are on par with those produced in Bordeaux.
Wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon often have a rich red colour and a medium acidity. They frequently include spice and blackberry flavours and have a good to an excellent tannic structure.
Merlot is the third most common red grape varietal after Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.
The best Merlot wines worldwide are produced in Bordeaux, southwest France.
Bordeaux’s Saint-Emilion and Pomerol wine areas are particularly notable. Other nations where you can obtain top-notch Merlot wines besides France include Italy, Chile (particularly the Colchagua Valley), California, and Washington State.
Perhaps best known for its role in right-bank Bordeaux blends, Merlot traditionally makes bone-dry red wines.
Merlot is best served at a temperature of 15-18°C (60-65°F).
3. Pinot Noir
The Pinot grape family, which also contains Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Meunier, includes Pinot Noir.
The Burgundy wine region of France is most closely connected with this grape varietal.
Pinot Noir wines produced in two villages in Burgundy may differ significantly due to different terroirs, heightening the wine’s complexity. Winemakers in northern Italy, Germany, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, California (particularly Sonoma), and Oregon have all adopted Pinot Noir as a result of its popularity (especially the Willamette Valley).
Syrah, usually called ‘Shiraz,’ is a grape variety grown worldwide but is most commonly associated with the Rhone Valley in southeast France.
Syrah has gained enormous popularity in the New World, particularly in Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, California, and Washington State. The grape variety is referred to as Syrah in France, but Shiraz in New World wine markets, such as Australia.
The grape variety is Malbec, commonly referred to as Argentina’s national grape. Compared to those produced in the southwest of France, where Malbec is thought to have originated, Argentina’s Malbec wines are often softer and less tannic.
Mendoza, La Rioja, San Juan, and Catamarca are the main wine-producing areas for Malbec in Argentina. Taking inspiration from Malbec’s popularity in Argentina, Chilean winemakers in the Central Valley aim to produce premium Malbec wines.
One of the most well-liked red grape varietals worldwide is Grenache, or “Garnacha,” known in Spain.
The Rhône Valley in France and Spain are the most fantastic places to find Grenache wines (especially Rioja and Aragon).
Wines made from grenache grapes have berry flavours and a hint of spice and are easy to drink. They frequently include a lot of alcohol as well.
In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely grown red grape varietal.
Sangiovese is widespread throughout central Italy, although it is best known for being from Tuscany, where it is used to make blends like Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano as well as the renowned “Super Tuscans.”
Although Sangiovese can age well, it is best enjoyed when young and has vibrant, fruit-forward flavours. It can develop a more nuanced, okay character if it’s matured in oak barrels.
Sangiovese often yields a rich flavour profile that includes cherries and strawberries, despite not being as fragrant as other red grape varietals like Pinot Noir and Syrah.
The red grape variety known as Montepulciano is most frequently found in central and southern Italy, particularly in Abruzzo, Marche, Molise, Umbria, Puglia, and Latium regions.
Due to its relatively late ripening and inability to survive in a colder climate, the Montepulciano grape is not grown in northern Italy.
The Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, made from Sangiovese rather than Montepulciano, is different from Montepulciano.
The Iberian Peninsula is where most Tempranillo grape, also known as “Spain’s noble grape,” is cultivated, particularly in the Ribera del Duero and Rioja wine districts.
Full-bodied, ruby red wines from the Tempranillo grape can have unique aromas and flavours like plum, cherries, tobacco, and vanilla. These flavours intensify even more after being matured in wood barrels.
Next to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, Barbera is one of Italy’s most widely grown red grapes. Barbera’s historic birthplace is northwest Italy, particularly the Piedmont wine region.
The Piedmontese wine known as Barbera d’Asti is arguably the most well-known Barbera wine. Barbera can produce some robust, long-ageing wines with powerful flavour and complexity. Barbera wines frequently contain red cherries and berries flavours when they are young.
Black cherries and blackberries become the predominant flavours as they ripen.
11. Petite Sirah
Red grape varietal Petite Sirah, commonly referred to as “Durif,” was created in France in the 1880s due to a genetic cross between Syrah and Peloursin Noir.
The word “petite” in the name relates to the berries’ diminutive size rather than the vine. Wines from Petite Sirah have a richer, rounder flavour and a deeper purple colour than those from Syrah.
For the delicate, fruit-forward red wines of Beaujolais, Gamay is best known. Gamay is utilised in this French wine area to produce both the delicate Beaujolais Nouveau wines released in November and the more sophisticated Cru Beaujolais wines.
Gamay is typically blended with Pinot Noir or Cabernet Franc in other French wine regions, such as the Loire Valley.
Red grape variety Nebbiolo is a speciality of northwest Italy’s Piedmont wine region.
The Nebbiolo wines Barolo and Barbaresco are the most well-known. Nebbiolo wines are pale in colour and very tannic when they are young.
But as they get older, they develop more exciting and alluring smells like those of violets, wild herbs, cherries, berries, and tobacco.
Red grape variety Carménère was first cultivated in France’s renowned Bordeaux wine region.
Along with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère is one of the six original grape varietals of Bordeaux.
Today, though, it is uncommon to find Carménère in France; instead, Chile has emerged as the world’s top producer of Carménère wines, with Central Valley winemakers at the forefront of producing premium wines.
Winemakers commonly use dark-skinned Blaufrankisch grapes in Central and Eastern Europe. Blaufrankisch is Austria's second-most popular red grape varietal, only after Zweigelt.
Additionally, it exists in Slovenia, Croatia, Romania, and Hungary.
Blaufrankisch is sometimes called “the Pinot Noir of the East” among wine connoisseurs.
16. Touriga Nacional
The red grape variety Touriga Nacional is almost entirely in Portugal to produce some of that country’s finest red wines. In many ways, the Touriga Nacional vine is comparable to the Cabernet Sauvignon grape from France.
Both have wines with medium to high tannin levels, excellent ageing potential, and dark, deep fruit flavours.
17. Petit Verdot
French winemakers generally employ the red grape varietal Petit Verdot to offer more structure to the traditional Bordeaux blends.
Petit Verdot is unequalled as a mixing grape. It can provide red blend colour, tannins, and flavour.
Due to this, it’s favoured by many of the most well-known winemakers globally, notably those from Bordeaux’s Médoc region.
18. Nero d’Avola
In Sicily, Nero d’Avola is the most widely grown red grape variety. The grape’s name, “the black of Avola,” which alludes to the fruit’s dark skin, is translated from Italian.
This grape is additionally known as Calabrese in some regions of Italy. Warm, dry weather is ideal for Nero d’Avola.
The upshot is that the grape grows in places with scorching Mediterranean conditions, including Malta and Turkey.
The Rhône and Provence regions of France and the Valencia and Jumilla districts of Spain are home to the red grape variety Mourvèdre, also known as Mataro and Monastrell.
Mourvèdre can be found outside of Europe in places like California, Washington State, South Africa, and Australia (particularly South Australia and New South Wales).
Cinsault is a grape variety with dark skin typically blended into red wines rather than used to make a single varietal wine.
The Southern Rhône Blend, which also contains Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, adds Cinsault as a significant ingredient.
Despite being native to the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region in southern France, the Cinsault grape is perhaps best known for being one of the parents of the renowned Pinotage grape from South Africa.
Other popular types include:
What Grapes Do Winemakers Use to Produce Red Wine?
Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other red grapes make red wines, whereas white grapes are used for white wines (Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, etc.).
How Many Types of Red Grapes Are There?
There are 350 varieties of grape that can be used to make red wine.
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- Types of Red Wine
- Can I Store My White Wines with Red Wines?
- Wine Storage Temperature Guide
- Chilean Red Wines
Before You Go...
We hope you enjoyed our article on the types of red wine grapes.
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