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The wine grape varieties you absolutely need to know

The experience of wine tasting allows you to recognize your affinities, and to define the characteristics of your favorite wines. Among the different particularities of a wine, the grape variety is a valuable guide to choosing a good bottle. But did you know that in France more than 200 grape varieties are authorized for wine production? Let's then take a look at the 14 main grape varieties , depending on the color of the wine.

Grape varieties for the vinification of red wines

Red wines are produced from red grape varieties (or black grape varieties). It is their pigments, contained in the skin of the grapes, which make it possible to obtain this pretty red color, but also the tannins.

Pinot noir

The most widely grown red grape variety in Burgundy, Pinot Noir is also found in the wine-growing regions of the Loire and Alsace, and it is also used in the composition of Champagne. Difficult for winegrowers to master, Pinot Noir nevertheless produces superb red wines, fine, powerful and aromatic. It has notes of cherry, raspberry, prune, undergrowth and game, and its tannins are supple and fine.


Merlot is a black grape variety for which Bordeaux is famous. However, its robustness allows it to travel as far as the South-East, and particularly in Languedoc-Roussillon. Often blended with Cabernet, Merlot offers fragrant and structured red wines, with fruity aromas of strawberry, redcurrant and raspberry.


Originally from the South-West wine region, Malbec produces red wines with beautiful aromatic power, where we find flavors of plum, licorice and tobacco. These vine varieties are also renowned for producing tannic and strong red wines, with a lovely freshness on the palate and a magnificent colorful color.

Cabernet franc

Cabernet Franc is undoubtedly one of the strongest and most aging wine grape varieties. Although it contains few tannins, its great finesse and spicy notes make it a grape variety of choice for many winegrowers in the Aquitaine region, and beyond. Cabernet Franc is now grown throughout France and around the world.

Cabernet Sauvignon

A grape variety originally from the Médoc, Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of an unexpected union between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. This red grape variety gets its reputation from the excellent Grands Crus of Bordeaux to which it brings all its power. The wines made from these emblematic grape varieties are then full-bodied, tannic, and suitable for aging.

Grape varieties for the vinification of white wines

White wines are produced from white grape varieties , as a blend or as a single variety. There are 5 main grape varieties for the vinification of white wine.


This white grape variety of Burgundian origin is probably the most cultivated white grape variety in the world . Indeed, it has a great capacity to adapt to all soils and climates, and produces very varied white wines depending on its viticulture region. In France, Chardonnay is available as a dry white wine, a sweet white wine, and even a sparkling white wine. Its fruity wines reveal aromas of dried fruits, exotic fruits and toasted almonds, but we also find floral notes of acacia, and vegetal notes of linden and fern in these exceptional white wines.


One of the main white grape varieties , Sauvignon Blanc comes from the South-West of France, but it is also found in the Loire. It makes it possible to obtain very varied white wines, which have a lovely aromatic power in common. From dry white wine to sweet white wine, Sauvignon Blanc presents floral aromas of jasmine and narcissus, or even fruity citrus notes.

White Grenache

Imported to France during the Middle Ages, Grenache is a white grape variety which is distinguished by its aromas of dill, fennel, melon, and even white nectarine. One of the wine grape varieties best drunk young, Grenache Blanc nevertheless has great sugar potential. It is thus found in bottles of dry white wine and natural sweet wine, and although it is full-bodied and warm, it must be recognized that it sometimes lacks acidity.

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is one of the best white grape varieties for producing dry white wines. Native to the Loire, it offers a beautiful minerality and a lovely sweetness, supported by the delicate aromas of quince, pear and acacia honey. Rather easy to vinify, Chenin is an excellent base for sparkling white wines, dry white wines and sweet white wines.

Grape varieties for the vinification of rosé wines from Provence

Unlike red wines and white wines, rosé wines can be vinified from both red and white grape varieties. The intensity of their color will then depend on the maceration time. We then distinguish 5 main grape varieties of rosé wine .


Mourvèdre is one of the black grape varieties used to make rosé wine. Originally from Spain, it flourishes today mainly in Provence and Languedoc, where it produces rosé wines with aromas of black fruits and spices.


Another black grape variety of Provençal origin, Syrah is characterized by fine tannins and its aromas of raspberry, licorice, pepper and violet. Also cultivated in the Rhône Valley to produce red wines, Syrah is one of the black grape varieties which is experiencing great growth in French vineyards.


With its very good yield, Carignan is a black grape variety that is grown in Provence, in the South-West, in Languedoc, as well as in the Rhône Valley. Lovers of warm climates, this grape variety produces bottles of wine marked by aromas of black fruits and cocoa, but also notes of toast, prune and leather.

The cinsault

Constituting an excellent base for the vinification of rosé wines, Cinsault is a red grape variety that can be blended with a white grape variety, to enhance its aromas of red fruits, hazelnut and almond. Cinsault is one of the grape varieties that is undoubtedly inseparable from the rosé wines of Provence, but it is also found in the Rhône Valley, for the production of light red wines.

Grenache noir

Grenache noir is one of the most cultivated large grape varieties in France, and particularly in Provence, where it benefits from the Mediterranean climate to reveal all its aromatic power. We then discover rosé wines with notes of blackcurrant, black fruits, plum and cherry. It is generally blended with Mourvèdre and Cinsault.

There are so many grape varieties in France that it is difficult to identify them during a wine tasting. However, certain main grape varieties remain in the majority and are easily recognized, with experience, during the organoleptic analysis of the wine.

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