Wine Guide

A cheat sheet for a neat treat

Can’t tell a Pinot Blanc from a Chardonnay? Well, that takes palate and practice.
But in the meantime, here’s a quick-and-dirty list of wine varietals with tasting notes and profiles.

 

White Wines

Chardonnay
Aroma Characteristics: Green Apple, melon, pear, pineapple, butterscotch (if oaked), chamomile tea Flavour Characteristics: Green Apple, butterscotch, citrus fruit, melon, pineapple Preferred Regions: France – Burgundy California – Russian River Valley Interesting Because: Most versatile white varietal, because it can be dressed up to showcase an entire portfolio of flavours
Chenin Blanc
Aroma Characteristics: Depending on dry or off dry style, melon, floral Flavour Characteristics: Honeydew, fig Preferred Regions: South Africa France – Vouvray Interesting Because: Not about Chenin per se, but rather South Africa – historically south African wines were aged in second-hand cured meat barrels
Gewurtztraminer
Aroma Characteristics: Lavender, citrus fruit, spice Flavour Characteristics: Citrus fruit, honey, lychee Preferred Regions: France – Alsace Germany Interesting Because: Literally means “Spicy grape”
Muscat
Aroma Characteristics: Oranges and orange blossoms, perfume Flavour Characteristics: Oranges, tangerines, lychee Preferred Regions: Italy – sweet, slightly sparkling wines Australia – Fortified style Interesting Because: Most widely planted white varietal
Pinot Blanc
Aroma Characteristics: Pear, honey, floral Flavour Characteristics: Spicy, tree fruit, fig, melon Preferred Regions: Blending varietal – grown everywhere, but not yet specialized Interesting Because: Poor Man’s Chardonnay
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
Aroma Characteristics: Fresh lemon Pear Flavour Characteristics: Lemon, lime, tart apple Preferred Regions: Italy – Alto Adige & Veneto Canada – Okanagan Valley Interesting Because: Gray Monk Winery in Kelowna is so named due to “Grauar Mönc, which is German for Pinot Gris
Riesling
Aroma Characteristics: Honeysuckle, citrus, mineral, petrol is favoured by many, hated by some Flavour Characteristics: Apple, slate, peach Preferred Regions: Germany – Mosel USA – Washington Canada – Niagara Interesting Because: It has 5 levels of sweet: - Kabinett - Auslese - Spatlese - Beerenauslese - Trockenberenauslese
Sauvignon Blanc
Aroma Characteristics: Grassy, herbaceous, chalkiness Flavour Characteristics: Grapefruit, lime, passionfruit, stoniness Preferred Regions: New Zealand – Marlborough & Hawkes Bay France - Loire Chile - Casablanca Interesting Because: Fume Blanc is a term coined by the late Robert Mondavi in the 1970’s – to distinguish American Sauvs as seeing some time in barrels
Semillion
Aroma Characteristics: Honeycomb or beeswax, light floral Flavour Characteristics: Slightly oily texture, roasted nuts Preferred Regions: France – Bordeaux Rest of the world – blends with Sauv Blanc or Chardonnay Interesting Because: Even though most of the world uses it to blend, it’s the grape in the most prized wine in the world – Chateau d’Yquem
Torrontes
Aroma Characteristics: Perfume, floral, lilac Flavour Characteristics: Peach, lychee, sweet table grapes Preferred Regions: Argentina Interesting Because: It pairs well with friends and a warm day on the patio!
Viognier
Aroma Characteristics: Flowers, spicy, stone fruit Flavour Characteristics: Apricot, nectarine, Peach, almond milk Preferred Regions: Rhone Interesting Because: Often co-fermented with Syrah. One of the 13 allowed grapes in Chateauneuf du Pape

Red Wines

Cabernet Franc
Aroma Characteristics: Vegetal & Floral notes Flavour Characteristics: Herbaceous, plum, cassis Preferred Regions: Primarily blending varietal France – Chinon/Bordeaux Canada – Niagara Interesting Because: Most people don’t realize that cab franc is integral in Bordeaux style blends
Cabernet Sauvignon
Aroma Characteristics: Cassis, mint, tobacco, vanilla (from oak ageing), cedar Flavour Characteristics: Currant, black cherry, olive Preferred Regions: France – Bordeaux (Left Bank) USA – California (Napa) Almost anywhere Interesting Because: Originally a cross between Cabernet Franc & Sauvignon Blanc
Gamay
Aroma Characteristics: Strawberry, banana (if villages or nouveaus) Flavour Characteristics: Strawberry, raspberry, cherry if unoaked. If oaked, big rich earthy notes Preferred Regions: France – Beaujolais Interesting Because: Beaujolais Nouveau is always released the 3rd Thursday of November
Grenache
Aroma Characteristics: Baking spice red fruit, cherry Flavour Characteristics: Extremely fruity, Strawberry Preferred Regions: France – Cotes du Rhone Spain – Rioja Australia - Barossa Interesting Because: The 2nd most planted red varietal, it's often used for Rose wines as well
Malbec
Aroma Characteristics: Plum, blueberry Flavour Characteristics: Sour cherry, plum, baking spices Preferred Regions: Argentina – Mendoza France – Cahors Interesting Because: Argetine Malbec didn’t take to root grafting to protect it against phylloxera (nasty destructive louse) making this malbec pretty pure and clean.
Merlot
Aroma Characteristics: Violets, blueberry, herbal, cocoa Flavour Characteristics: Baking spice, red fruit, cherry, plum Preferred Regions: France – Bordeaux (Right Bank) Canada – Okanagan Valley Nearly anywhere! Interesting Because: Chateau Petrus is one of the most expensive wines in the world, and is 85% merlot.
Pinot Noir
Aroma Characteristics: Tea leaves, mushrooms Flavour Characteristics: Red fruit – cranberry, raspberry, tomato leaves Preferred Regions: France – Burgundy USA – Oregon New Zealand - Otago Interesting Because: One of the most difficult grapes to grow – yet winemaker strive to make their mark with Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Aroma Characteristics: Tart pie cherries, earth Flavour Characteristics: Anise, tobacco, leather, cherry Preferred Regions: Italy - Chianti Interesting Because: Translates to "Blood of Jove"
Syrah/Shiraz
Aroma Characteristics: Pepper is classic – be it white or black, baking spices, ripe red fruit Flavour Characteristics: Black cherry, pepper, clove, red fruit, roasted nuts Preferred Regions: France – Rhone Australia – Barossa is the easy one, but McLaren Vale has my heart Interesting Because: There is a city in Persia called Shiraz, where the grape is thought to originate from
Zinfandel
Aroma Characteristics: Cooked fruit – hence ‘jammy’ Floral, cherry cola Flavour Characteristics: Raspberry, raisins, spice, blackberry Preferred Regions: Italy – Puglia (Primitivo) USA – California Interesting Because: Richly contested history between several countries – probably originated in Croatia
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