Want to experience the entire range of wine? Try the noble grapes.
It’s time to ditch the same ol’ wine you’ve been drinking and expand your palate.
Why? Well, by doing so you’ll be on the fast track to becoming a wine expert. Make a list of the grapes below and challenge yourself to try every one of them.
A Spectrum of Wine in Just 18 Noble Grapes
What Are The Noble Grapes? There are 18 red and white noble grapes (listed below) that define the complete range of wine flavors –from clear, zesty white to deep dark red wine.
Here is the list of the 18 major grapes that are readily available and define a unique flavor of wine. Once you master this list, you will intuitively understand the major flavor profiles of most red and white wines in the world. This list is missing a few sections such as Dessert wine, Rosé Wine and Sparkling wine.
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Red Noble Grapes
The wines below are organized from lightest to darkest.
1. Pinot Noir
The lightest red grape, trying Pinot Noir will help you to understand acidity and aromatics in red wine. Pinot Noir Guide
Gamay, Schiava, Nerello Mascalese, St. Laurent
The candied red wine grape, Grenache shows how red wines can be light and fruit forward at the same time. Grenache Wine Guide
Zinfandel, Primitivo, Carignan
Merlot is can be lighter or bolder depending on how it’s made. Usually it’s fruit forward with smooth tannins. Guide to Merlot
Corvina, Negroamaro, Cinsault
Sangiovese is aromatic like Pinot Noir, but has bigger tannins and is cherry fruit driven. Sangiovese Wine Guide
Touriga Franca, Counoise, Nebbiolo
A savory high tannin/acid wine that is also very light in color –very few wines are like Nebbiolo.
Tempranillo is earthy with rustic tobacco notes and high tannin. Tempranillo Guide
7. Cabernet Sauvignon
One of the most balanced full-bodied wines of the world. Cabernet is savory with a very long finish. More About Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc, Lagrein, Montepulciano
Syrah offers big, bold, dark fruit flavors up front with a subtle finish and lighter tannin. Flavors from olive to blackberry and tobacco. Guide to Syrah
Barbera, Dolcetto, Mencía
Candied similar to Grenache but instead of strawberry and cherry flavors it’s more in the blueberry/blackberry realm.
Monastrell, Nero d’Avola, Touriga Nacional
Noble White Grapes
The wines below are organized from lightest to richest.
1. Pinot Grigio
Light and zesty high acid white wines.
Garganega, Assyrtiko, Albariño, Pinot Blanc, Grenache Blanc
Dry to sweet white wines that smell like lime, honey and apricots with high acidity. Taster’s Guide to Riesling
Furmint, Silvaner, Loureiro
3. Sauvignon Blanc
Green and herbacious. Sauvignon Blanc
Vermentino, Friulano, Grüner Veltliner, Verdicchio, Colombard
4. Chenin Blanc
Zesty white wines that smell like flowers and lemon.
Albariño, white Vinho Verde (a regional blend)
Sweet wines that taste like peaches and orange blossom. Guide to Muscat
Müller Thurgau, Torrontés
Off-dry to sweet white wines that taste of ginger and honey.
Dry medium bodied wines with lemon notes.
Fiano, Grillo, Encruzado, Trebbiano (aka Ugni Blanc), Falanghina
Medium bodied white wines that smell like flowers.
Full bodied dry white wines. Chardonnay Wine Guide
Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Trebbiano Toscano (aka Ugni Blanc)
Why are some wines noble and others aren’t?
Noble grapes are also known as International Varieties which are grape varieties that are widely planted in most of the major wine producing regions and have widespread appeal. History has a lot to do with the prevalence of French wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.