If you have spent any time whatsoever learning about red wines, you’ve probably realized that there are multiple types of grapes that are used during the fermentation process. A light-bodied Bordeaux wine, for instance, isn’t made with the same grape variety as a heavy California Cabernet. Learning about the various sorts of grapes that can be used during the red wine production process can be quite fascinating. Here, you’ll discover information about a few common varieties.
Cabernet Franc grapes – Alongside Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and Merlot grapes, Cabernet Franc rounds out the trio of grapes that are typically used to craft Bordeaux and Meritage wines on American soil. Cabernet Franc grapes are primarily noted for their violet and blueberry notes. Their tannins are also famed for having an aroma akin to that of freshly roasted coffee.
Cabernet Sauvignon grapes – Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, as mentioned above, are part of the triad that comprise Bordeaux wines. It is also oft used throughout California’s Napa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can be grown in many regions all over the world, but they are not easy to grow to perfection. They flourish in Napa Valley, which is why they are so popular at vineyards there. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are known for hints of bell pepper, green olives, and savory herbs.
Gamay grapes – Used primarily in Beaujolais wine, Gamay grapes have fruity undertones of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry. Generally, these grapes are harvested when they are quite young and have a unique effervescent quality.
Merlot grapes – Merlot wine is often thought of as the “Chardonnay of red wines.” It is almost universally liked and pairs well with a variety of meals. When properly ripened, Merlot grapes taste of cherry, raspberry, and watermelon. They are most successfully grown in the Bordeaux region of France and in Washington State in the U.S.A.
Pinot Noir grapes – Pinot Noir grapes tend to be fickle. When they ripen well, they are delicious and have savory undertones of tomato leaf, blackberry, plum, and cola. Unsuccessful harvests often have undesirable “weedy” flavors, however. At their best, Pinot Noir can be used to create delicious champagnes and, of course, Pinot Noir varieties.
Zinfandel grapes – Zinfandel grapes were once thought of as a California-exclusive. Now, though, their history has been traced all the way to Croatia and they are grown throughout the American west coast, in Italy, and in Australia. Zinfandels are known for their raisin, prune, and blackberry flavors.
If you are interested in trying more red wines paired with Italian fare, visit Assaggio, Boston’s most prestigious Italian restaurant in the North End. We serve authentic dishes that have been passed down from real Italian kitchens. Our wait staff takes pride in understanding our extensive wine menu and are well-prepared to answer any questions you may have about pairings.