Glossary

Red

  • Amarone

    Amarone is created in the Veneto region of Italy. Amarones are typically very big, rich wines with flavours of raisin, liquorice, tobacco and fig and go well with rich dishes like game and aged hard cheeses. Amarone can be drunk young, while still a ruby purple, but they also age magnificently to a dark garnet for thirty years or more. A typical drinking age is 10 years.

    Amarone wines are made with the Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. They are produced using the appassimento method, meaning that the grapes have been partially dried on racks, bringing out their intense flavours.

  • Baco Noir

    Baco Noir produces a medium body, deeply tinted, acidic red wine which is fruit forward and often carries aromas of black fruits and caramel. Ageing potential is 5-8 years on average for good examples of this wine.

  • Barbaresco

    Barbaresco wine is made from the Nebbiolo grape, a red grape originally found in Piedmont Italy, but is now also grown in limited quantities in many other regions of the world. This grape is used to make both Barbaresco and Barolo wines.

    Barbaresco wines are generally more supple and delicate than barolo wines. The appellation has several crus that show specific character. The wines benefit from a pleasant acidity and fine but substantial tannins. They can be complex and worthy of long aging.

  • Barbera

    Barbera is a red wine grape variety that is the second most-planted variety in Italy (the first is Sangiovese). It gives good yields and can impart deep colour, low tannins and (unusually for a warm-climate red grape) high levels of acid.

    Barbera d'Asti is one of the most renowned of the Barbera based wines, found in two main variants: Barbera d'Asti Superiore which must be aged in big oak barrels or small French oak barrels for at least six months, and plain Barbera d'Asti which is not required to be aged in oak. The wine has a strong aging potential; the "Superiore" kind can often be aged from three to eight years or even more. The best producers see its potential as being almost as great as that of nebbiolo.

  • Barolo

    Barolo wines are made from the Nebbiolo grape, a red grape originally found in Piedmont Italy, but is now also grown in limited amounts in many other regions of the world. This grape is used to make both Barbaresco and Barolo wines. The appellation produces the deepest, the most serious and the most complex expression of this variety, includes several renowned crus, including Cannubi, Brunate, Rocche, Monprivato, Bussia and Ginestra. The wines can take years to fully reveal themselves, and to round out their acidity and tannins. They often show aromas described as roses, tar, tobacco and spice, with lots of length and finesse.

  • Beaujolais

    Beaujolais, in part because of the popularity of Beaujolais Nouveau, is almost a synonym for light, fruity, easy-drinking wines.

    Beaujolais is a historical province and wine-producing region in France. It is located north of Lyon, and covers parts of the north of the Rhône and parts of the south of Burgundy. Its main production is red wines made from gamay, which has relatively light tannins and an expansive fruity character. Small amounts of Beaujolais Blanc, from chardonnay, are also produced. The region also offers more serious, ageworthy wines, from the Beaujolais Crus (Brouilly, Côtes-de-Brouilly, Chénas, Juliénas, Régnié, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Moulin-à-Vent, Saint-Amour, Morgon) which have become more popular in recent years.

  • Bordeaux Left Bank

    Bordeaux red wines from the western or 'left bank' of the Gironde River are blends that are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, generally more powerful and longer ageing. (Haut-Médoc, Pauillac, Margaux, Saint Julien, Saint-Estèphe and Chateau Haut-Brion and Graves.)

  • Bordeaux Right Bank

    Bordeaux red wines from the eastern or 'right bank' of the Gironde River are blends that are predominantly Merlot, with smaller amounts of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon. Because of the greater presence of merlot, they are generally 'softer' and more approachable than Médocs, when young, but they can also show remarkable ageability in the appellations Pomerol (where Petrus is made) and St.-Emilion (Cheval-Blanc, Pavie, Angélus, Ausone, etc.).

  • Brunello

    Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most prestigious appellations in Italy, born in the 19th Century in its present form thanks to the efforts of the Biondi-Santi family, who defined its rules and have largely guided it to the present day. The wines are made from 100% Sangiovese grape, in particular from a clone called Sangiovese Grosso, or also as Brunello - hence the appellation's name.

    Traditionally, the wine goes through an extended maceration period where color, tannins and flavour are extracted from the skins. Following fermentation the wine is then aged in oak. Traditionally, the wines are aged 3 years or more in "botti" - large Slovenian oak casks that impart little oak flavour and generally produce more austere wines. Some winemakers will use small French barrels which impart a more pronounced vanilla oak flavour and add a certain fruitiness to the wine. Whatever the approach, wines must be aged for for years (with a minimum of two years in barrel) before being released, according to appellation rules.

  • Burgundy

    Burgundy wine is wine is a light to medium bodied red wine made in the Burgundy region in France. The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as Burgundies - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grape and whites produced from Chardonnay. The region also produces wines made from aligoté, gamay and very small amounts of pinot blanc and pinot gris, as well as sparkling wines called Crémant de Bourgogne.

    The main production zones within Burgundy are the Côte de Beaune, Côte de Nuits, Côte Chalonnaise, Mâconnais and Chablis. Each of these zones is subdivided into numerous appellations, "lieux-dits" (place names), premier crus and grands crus, in a complex hierarchical system based on topography, climate and history.

  • Cabernet Franc

    Cabernet Franc is one of the major varieties of red wine grape in Bordeaux, where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is also the main red variety in the Loire Valley, where it is vinified alone in appellations such as Chinon, Saumur and Bourgueil. It is even made into ice wine in Canada, where it is one of the main red varieties.

    Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon (of which it is a parent), contributing finesse and a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on growing region and the style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, and cassis, sometimes even violets, as well as bell pepper. That particular aroma is loved by some and seen almost as a fault by many.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

    Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It is the most planted of fine wine grapes, just ahead of merlot, and it is grown in nearly every major wine producing country among a spectrum of climates as diverse as Canada's Okanagan Valley, the high plains of Argentina, Tuscany or Lebanon's Beqaa Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet franc. The Judgment of Paris, in 1976, where Napa Valley cabernets scored ahead of some top Bordeaux châteaux in a blind tasting, is a perfect example of the way this variety has played a key role in bringing international recognition to a wine region.

    One of the most noted traits of Cabernet Sauvignon is its affinity for oak, either during fermentation or in barrel aging. In addition to having a softening effect on the grape's naturally high tannins, the unique wood flavours of vanilla and spice complement the natural grape flavours of black currant and tobacco. The aroma of black currants is one of the most distinctive and characteristic element of Cabernet Sauvignon that is present in virtually every style of the wine across the globe. Styles from various regions and producers may also have aromas of eucalyptus, mint and tobacco. In general New World examples have more pronounced fruity notes while Old World wines can be more austere with heightened earthy notes.

  • Cabernet/Merlot

    This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A Cabernet/Merlot is a medium bodied red wine. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

  • Cabernet/Shiraz

    This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz that results in a full bodied, hefty wine. The sweetness of Shiraz often balances well and softens the sometimes strong tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • Carmenere

    The Carmenère grape is a red variety originally planted in the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France, where it was used for blending purposes in the same manner as Petit Verdot. Now rarely found in France, the world's largest area planted with this variety is in Chile in South America. Chilean plantings, brought from France in the 19th Century, were originally thought to be Merlot, before being correctly identified in 1994 and, since then, used as a distinctive signature by the country's producers.

    Carmenère wine has a deep red color and aromas found in red fruits, spices and berries, with tannins that are gentler and softer than those in Cabernet Sauvignon. Although mostly used as a blending grape, wineries do bottle a pure varietal Carmenère which. Its taste might also be reminiscent of dark chocolate, tobacco, and leather. The wine is best drunk young.

  • Chianti

    Chianti is a red wine made primarily from Sangiovese (80% minimum), blended with smaller amounts of local varieties like Canaiolo or Mammolo or international ones like cabernet sauvignon or merlot. It takes its name from the traditional region of the same name, located near the cities of Florence and Sienna, in Tuscany, where it is produced. It used to be easily identified by its squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called fiasco; however, the fiasco became synonymous with cheap wine and is only used by a few makers of the wine. Today, most Chianti is bottled in traditionally shaped wine bottles.

    There are many sub-appellations in Chianti, all geographically-defined, like Chianti Colli Senesi or Chianti Rufina. The best-known sub-appellation is chianti classico, whose bottles bear the symbol of a black rooster and whose quality is generally considered to be the best. Low-end Chianti is fairly inexpensive, and basic bottles can be bought for around $10 CAN. There are many higher end, sophisticated Chiantis being made recently, however, and these are sold at substantially higher prices.

  • Gamay

    Gamay is a purple-coloured grape variety used mostly to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley around Tours. It is sometimes used to make rosés as well as sparkling wines such as Cerdon de Bugey. Gamay-based wines are typically light bodied and fruity. Wines meant for immediate consumption are typically made using carbonic maceration, where the grapes are fermented in whole bunches under a blanket of CO2, before being pressed, a method that emphasizes a bright fruitiness (and sometimes gives less desirable notes reminiscent of bananas). Wines meant to be drunk after some modest aging tend to have more body and are produced by semi-carbonic fermentation, where fermentation starts in whole bunches, before the grapes are gradually punched down, in a winemaking style closer to the burgundian approach. The latter are produced mostly in the designated Crus areas of northern Beaujolais (Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-à-Vent, etc.) where the wines typically have the flavour of strawberries, cherries and spices.

  • Grenache

    Grenache (pronounced GREN-ASH) ripens late, so needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain and in the south of France. It is generally spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content, but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acid, tannin and colour, and is usually blended with other varieties such as Syrah, Carignan and Cinsaut.

    Grenache is the dominant variety in most Southern Rhône wines, especially in Châteauneuf-du-Pape where it is typically over 80% of the blend. In Australia (as is often the case in France as well) it is typically blended in "GSM" blends with Syrah and Mourvèdre.

    Grenache is also used to make rosé wines in France and Spain, notably those of the Tavel district in the Côtes du Rhône. And the high sugar levels of Grenache have led to extensive use in fortified wines, including the red vins doux naturels of Roussillon such as Banyuls, and as the basis of most Australian 'port'.

    In Sardinia, the grape is also present, but identified under the name Cannonau.

  • Gsm

    GSM wines are a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre producing a rich, full bodied red wine. Wines from the Southern Rhone region of France are typically GSM blends. GSM blends are also becoming more popular in Australian wine making, and are also made by proponents of Rhône varieties in California.

  • Malbec

    Malbec is a red grape variety, originally from southwestern France, which has become the flagship grape of Argentinian wines. The grapes tend to have an inky dark colour and robust tannins, with relatively low acidity. Long known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine, it is still used there in small amounts, but the French plantations of Malbec are found primarily in Cahors, in the French South West, with smaller amounts also found in surrounding southwestern appellations (Bergerac, Côtes du Marmandais...), as well as in the Loire, where it is known as Côt. However, Argentina now has over three times more acres of malbec planted than France does, and most people around the world now know the grape in the oaky, ripe and rich style made in this South American country.

  • Meritage

    Meritage is pronounced Meh-rih-TIJ, rhyming with Heritage. This is a made-up word, registered as a US trademark, that wineries must pay to use on their wines.

    Back in 1989, wineries were all choosing names for their various blended wines, and it was getting hard to keep track of them all. An association was formed to try to define a "Bordeaux Blend" of grapes that was done on non-French soil. They had over 6,000 people submit choices for the name of this blend, and "Meritage" won.

    Just like Bordeaux, since they're made with the same grapes, Meritage wines tend to have a rich, full aroma. Depending on the particular blend, it can be blackberry, black cherry, spices, chocolate, and vanilla. Most Meritages have the Bordeaux signature flavours - cigar box, rich fruits, with a hefty feel. They're great with a steak, or with game meats - venison, pheasant etc.

  • Merlot

    Merlot is a red wine grape that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum, and currant. Its softness and "fleshiness", combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux wine where it is the most widely planted grape. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets.

  • Montepulciano

    Montepulciano is the name of a red grape grown widely in Central Italy and best known for its use in the Abruzzi. Montepulciano has lower acidity than some other reds (especially for an Italian varietal) and mild tannins. The resulting wines tend to be somewhat softer than Chianti or Nebbiolo, for example - especially with the high yields used to make entry-level wines. The young wines are pleasurable reds that go as well with food. Almost all of the Montepulciano wines at the low end of the price spectrum are enjoyable, easy drinking wines. At the same time, some Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines can age brilliantly, especially in the hands of the right producer.

    It should not be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which comes from the area near the town of Montepulciano and is made essentially from Sangiovese.

  • Mourvedre

    Mourvedre, is a variety of red wine grape from the Mediterranean basin, now grown around the world. It is common in Southern France and in Spain, where it is known as Monastrell. In Portugal and some parts of the New World it is known as Mataró.

    It produces tannic wines that can be high in alcohol, and is most successful in Rhone-style blends. It has a particular affinity for Grenache, giving it depth and structure. Its taste varies greatly according to area, but often has a wild, gamey or earthy flavour, with soft red fruit flavours. One of its most successful incarnations is in Bandol, on the Mediterranean coast, in France, where it is the main grape in the appellation's red blends.

  • Nebbiolo

    Nebbiolo is a red grape originally found in Piedmont Italy, but is now also grown in small amounts in many other regions of the world. This grape is notably used to make Barbaresco and Barolo wines, but it is also used in other northern Italian appellations like Gattinara, Valtellina and Carema. Wines bearing the varietal name on the label, as opposed to an appellation like Barolo, tend to be simpler, lighter and younger-drinking, but always featuring the typical aromas of cherry, roses and spices of nebbiolo, as well as its significant acidity and tannins.

  • Nero D'avola

    Nero d'Avola ("Black from Avola" in Italian) is "the most important red wine grape in Sicily" and is one of Italy's most important indigenous varieties. It is named after Avola, near Syracusa in the southeast of Sicily and its wines are often compared to New World Shiraz, with sweet soft tannins and plum/ prune fruit and sometimes peppery flavours. It is often made as a varietal wine, but it is also be assembled with another local grape called Frappato or with international varieties.

  • Other Red

  • Petit Verdot

    Petit verdot is a variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favour in its home region. When it does ripen, it is added in small amounts to add tannin, colour and flavour to the blend. It has attracted attention among winemakers in the New World, where it ripens more reliably and has been made into varietal wine. It is also useful in giving more presence to the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.

  • Petite Sirah

    Its small berries, and consequently high skin-to-juice ratio, allow Petite Sirah to produce wines with high tannin levels, surprisingly high acidity, and thus the ability to age. Characteristically, these wines have dense blackberry fruit character, mixed with black pepper notes. The grape’s similarity to parent Syrah became confusing for early planters in California. Starting in the 1880s, some of the original Durif vines were confused for a clone of Syrah and subsequently named Petite Sirah. The variety is also found in Mexico, Argentina and Brasil, although the best-known and most successful examples come from California.

  • Pinot Noir

    Costly to produce, capricious, relatively low-yielding and sensitive, pinot noir has been nicknamed the "heartbreak grape" by winegrowers and winemakers who insist on producing it, as they seek to elicit from it the remarkable finesse and depth it is able to generate. In its home in Burgundy, it produces a mind-boggling range of nuances, which are highly sought by wine lovers from around the world.

    In the broadest terms, Pinot Noir tends to be of light to medium body with an aroma reminiscent of black cherry, raspberry or currant. Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its fleshy, 'farmyard' aromas, but changing fashions and new easier-to-grow clones have favoured a lighter, fruitier style. However, an emerging style from California and New Zealand highlights a more powerful, fruit forward and darker wine that can approach syrah in depth. Pinot noir is also often used in the production of Champagne.

  • Pinotage

    Pinotage is a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety. It was bred there in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut. It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavours, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit, but has been criticized for sometimes smelling of acetone. Pinotage is often blended, and also made into fortified wine and even red sparkling wine.

  • Red Blend

    This is a blend of two or more red grape varietals.

  • Rhone North

    The northern Rhône Valley is steep-sided and narrow and produces less than 10% of the region’s wine, mostly in appellations whose prestige largely outweighs production volumes, like Hermitage, Cornas, Condrieu or Côte-Rôtie. It is renowned for its Syrah, which is easily identified by spicy pepper and sturdy fruit flavours.

  • Rhone South

    The rock-strewn valley of the Southern Rhône is wider and warmer than the northern part of the valley. It is one of the hottest areas of France, and it produces both light and assertive wines blended from thirteen permitted varieties. Most red wine here is based on fruity Grenache and blended with Syrah, Mouvedre, Cinsault and Carignan. Chateauneuf du Pape wines is the most famous appellation in the southern Rhone region., which also produces Côtes-du-Rhône and Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Vacqueyras, Gigondas et many others.

  • Rioja

    Rioja is a wine from a region named after the Rio Oja, in northeast Spain. Rioja wines are normally a blend of various grape varieties, and can be either red, white or rose. In whites, the wines are made from viura and verdejo, while in reds, the best-known and most widely-used variety is Tempranillo, blended with garnacha (grenache), graciano, mazuelo and others. Red Riojas often display characteristics of oak and vanilla, due to barrel aging with relatively high proportions of new oak. Red riojas come in various styles, defined according to the length of time spent in barrel, from joven (young) styles to Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva.

  • Ripasso

    Ripasso is an Italian red wine from Valpolicella made by fermenting young wine with the unpressed but drained skins and lees left over from making Amarone. Today, the ripasso method, originally invented by Masi, is made by a number of producers, often using their own variations of this basic method. Ripasso is a very full, rich red wine though it normally has a lighter taste than Amarone wines which makes it easier to combine with food, and it is typically less expensive than Amarone.

  • Sangiovese

    Sangiovese is a red wine grape variety originating in Italy whose name derives from sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jove". It is most famous as the main component of the Chianti blend in Tuscany, but it is also the central part of many other appellations, like Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano or Morellino di Scansano, to name a few . Young sangiovese has fresh flavours of red fruit and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on more gamey notes, or even tobacco and herbs, especially as it ages.

  • Shiraz

    Shiraz and Syrah are one and the same grape. The name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia, where it has long been established as one of the most widely grown varieties, from strongholds in regions like Barossa to cooler areas like Heatcote or the Yarra Valley. Syrah is grown in many countries and is primarily used to produce powerful red wines, which enjoy great popularity in the marketplace, relatively often under the synonym Shiraz. Syrah is used both for varietal wines and in blended wines, where it can be both the major and minor component. It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and most of the United States. The name Shiraz for this grape variety is also commonly used in South Africa and Canada.

  • Syrah

    Shiraz and Syrah are one and the same grape. The name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia, where it has long been established as one of the most widely grown varieties. Syrah is grown in many countries and is primarily used to produce powerful red wines, which enjoy great popularity in the marketplace, relatively often under the synonym Shiraz. Syrah is used both for varietal wines and in blended wines, where it can be both the major and minor component. It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and most of the United States. The name Shiraz for this grape variety is also commonly used in South Africa and Canada.

  • Tempranillo

    Tempranillo is a variety of black grape widely grown to make full-bodied red wines in its native Spain. It is the main grape used in Rioja, and is often referred to as Spain's "noble grape". Its name is the diminutive of the Spanish temprano ("early"), a reference to the fact that it ripens several weeks earlier than most Spanish red grapes. In the last 100 years it has been planted in South America, USA, South Africa and Australia.

    Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones (reserva or gran reserva bottlings) are aged for several years in oak barrels. The wines are ruby red in colour, with aromas and flavors of berries, plum, tobacco, vanilla, leather and herb.

  • Touriga Nacional

    Touriga Nacional is a variety of red wine grape, considered by many to be Portugal's finest. Despite the notoriously low yields from its small grapes, it plays a big part in the blends used for the best ports, and is increasingly being used for table wine in the Douro and Dao.

    Touriga Nacional provides structure and body to wine, with high tannins and concentrated flavours of black fruit.

  • Valpolicella

    Valpolicella is a viticultural zone of the province of Verona, Italy, east of Lake Garda. The hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region of small holdings north of the Adige is famous for wine production. Valpolicella ranks just after Chianti in total Italian DOC wine production. The wine known as Valpolicella is typically made from three grape varietals: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. Most Valpolicellas are quite light and fragrant table wines, but some also use the appassimento method (which consists in partially drying the grapes, as is done for amarone) to give them more depth and intensity.

  • Zinfandel

    Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California wine vineyards. The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rose (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States. The grape's high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 per cent.

    The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruits like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas, whereas blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas and in wines made from the earlier-ripening Primitivo clone.

White

  • Albariño/Alvarinho

    Albariño is the primary grape used to make dry white wine in the Rias Baixas (Lower Inlets) section of the Galicia region of Northwestern Spain. Considered by many to be Spain's premier quality white wine, Albariño is also known in Portugal as Alvarinho and often used as a component of Vinho Verde.

    Weather conditions in the Rias Baixas are generally cool, windy and rainy. Vines must be trained high and open to allow winds to dry them out and avoid the ongoing threat of rot, mildew and other fungal diseases. Notably, Albariño grapes develop thick skins here, contributing to their intense aromas.

    Typically, wines made from Albariño are very aromatic, often described as having scents of almonds or almond paste, apples, peaches, citrus, and flowers or grass. Albariño wines are particularly suited to seafood due to their bracing acidity - which some producers have tempered with extra roundness, by aging the wines on lees, giving them a fuller texture. This grape's inherent tartness should be embraced in youth, for wines made from albariño do not age well, and the vibrant aromas begin to noticeably fade within months of bottling.

  • Assyrtiko

    Assyrtiko is a white grape from Greece, with a highly distinctive character that is at once rich and mineraly, fruity and brimming with bright acidity. It is mostly grown in the greek islands and particularly at home on the volcanic soils of Santorini, where some vineyards can be over two centuries old.

  • Chablis

    The Chablis region is the northernmost wine district of the Burgundy region in France. The appellation is 100% Chardonnay, and produces a dry white wine renowned for the purity of its aroma and taste. Common notes include citrus, white flowers and white fruit, with a pronounced mineral character.

    The appellation has a great diversity of designated place names, including seven grand crus and forty premiers crus, whose wines have significant aging potential.

    In comparison to the white wines from the rest of Burgundy, Chablis has on average much less influence of oak. Much Chablis is completely unoaked, and vinified in steel tanks.

    The wines are a great match for oysters and shellfish, as well as light poultry dishes.

  • Chardonnay

    The main white grape of Burgundy has become ubiquitous in the wine world, and remains one of the most popular of the "international" grape varieties. Planted all over the globe, from the most southerly regions of New Zealand to Québec's Eastern Townships, the Chardonnay grape itself is relatively neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the grape being derived more from the specific climate and geology or the vinification and aging methods than from any intrinsic aromatic components. In fact, the notes of butter and vanilla, so often associated with chardonnay, are actually derived from oak and a process called malolactic fermentation, rather than from the grape itself.

    With such a transparent character, it shouldn't be a surprise to see it vinified in many different styles, from the elegant, "flinty" wines of Chablis to rich, buttery Meursaults and New World wines with tropical fruit flavors. Chardonnay is also an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne.

  • Chardonnay,Unoaked

    Chardonnay is most typically aged in oak barrels, but is sometimes aged in steel vats or barrels to eliminate the heavy oak notes found in most chardonnays. Chablis is one of many examples of an unoaked chardonnay.

    Planted all over the globe, from the most southerly regions of New Zealand to Québec's Eastern Townships, the Chardonnay grape itself is relatively neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the grape being derived more from the specific climate and geology or the vinification and aging methods than from any intrinsic aromatic components. In fact, the notes of butter and vanilla, so often associated with chardonnay, are actually derived from oak and a process called malolactic fermentation, rather than from the grape itself.

    With such a transparent character, it shouldn't be a surprise to see it vinified in many different styles, from the elegant, "flinty" wines of Chablis to rich, buttery Meursaults and New World wines with tropical fruit flavors. Chardonnay is also an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne.

  • Chenin Blanc

    Chenin blanc, also known as Pineau de Loire, is a variety of white wine grape from the Loire valley of France, where it has likely been planted for over a thousand years. Its high acidity means it can be used to make everything from sparkling wines to well-balanced dessert wines, although it can produce very bland, neutral wines if the vine's natural vigour is not controlled. Outside the Loire it is found in many New World wine regions, including California and, even more, South Africa, where it is the most widely planted variety. Plantings in South Africa, where it is also known as Steen, are actually almost double those of France.

  • Gewurztraminer

    Born in Alsace, France, in the 19th century as a mutation of Traminer (or Savagnin) , Gewürztraminer became popular in its home region, and spread from there into Germany and Austria. It is still primarily grown in Alsace, with significant plantings in Germany, Austria and Italy, with significant amounts grown, outside of Europe, in California (mostly), Australia and South Africa.

    The variety has high natural sugar and the wines are white and usually off-dry, with a flamboyant bouquet of lychees, roses and spices like ginger. The name gewürztraminer means "aromatic" or "spicy" traminer, and it is indeed very highly aromatic - sometimes to a fault.

  • Grüner Veltliner

    Grüner Veltliner is a variety of white wine grape widely grown primarily in Austria and widely also in the Czech Republic and Hungary, but in very few other places, and always in small amounts. It has a reputation of being a particularly food-friendly wine.

    It is made into wines of many different styles - much is intended for drinking young in the Heuriger (bars serving new wine) of Vienna, a little is made into sparkling wine, but some is capable of long ageing. Grüner has gained growing success around the world in recent years, notably in the United States.

  • Muscadet

    Muscadet is a type of dry French white wine. It is made at the western end of the Loire Valley, near the city of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region neighbouring the Brittany Region. More Muscadet is produced than any other Loire wine. It is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape, often referred to simply as melon.

    Although most of these wines are drunk young, the best (the ones that are aged on lees) can improve in the cellar for many years, thanks to their high acidity. Muscadet is a classic and successful pairing with oysters.

  • Muscat

    Muscat grapes are used to make a variety of sweet dessert wines in just about every part of the wineworld and, more rarely, dry or semi-dry table wines. A fair amount of the dessert wines are fortified, though muscat is also used to produce wines from late harvest, botrytized or partially-dried grapes, as well as an increasingly popular style of semi-sweet sparkling wine, Moscato, originally from Piedmont, in Italy, but now produced in a growing number of countries.

    There are, in fact, a number of varieties bearing the name Muscat: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (the most frequent), Muscat of Alexandria, Black Muscat, Moscato Giallo, Muscat Ottonel, New York Muscat, etc. All these variations share an exuberant fruitiness, with aromas of peach or apricot, as well as floral and/or spicy notes. They also bear a large number of synonyms, depending on whether they are planted in French-, Spanish-, German-, Italian-speaking or other countries.

    Among the numerous appellations where muscat is present, notable examples include the vin doux naturels of Southern France (Frontignan, Beaumes-de-Venise, Rivesaltes, etc.), the muscats of Alsace (where the grape is also used in traditional white blends), Samos Muscat from Greece, Moscatels from Portugal and Spain and, here in Canada, a number of wines in Nova Scotia where Muscat Ottonel and New York Muscat play a successful and important role.

  • Other White

  • Pinot Blanc

    Pinot blanc is one of the many variations of the pinot variety, resulting from pinot's frequent genetic mutations, with pinot noir having given birth to pinot gris, pinot meunier and a few more variations.

    In Alsace, Italy and Hungary, the wine produced from Pinot Blanc is a full-bodied dry white wine while in Germany and Austria they can be either dry or sweet. Pinot Blanc is also found all over Eastern Europe, and has found significant success in British Columbia, where it is in the top five most planted varieties.

    Pinot blanc produces a wine with fruity aromas, often of apples and melons, but it does not have very distinctive characteristics. It is rather high in acidity. Pinot blanc wines are usually made for immediate consumption and seldom meant for cellaring.

  • Pinot Grigio

    Pinot Gris is known as Pinot Grigio in Italy. The Pinot grigio style of Italy is a light-bodied, often lean wine that is light in color with sometimes spritzy flavours that can be crisp and acidic, with aromas mainly characterized by notes of fresh apple. The name pinot grigio is also used for pinot gris wines from other regions of the world (United States, Australia, Argentina, Canada, etc.) that are made in that crisp, fresh style.

  • Pinot Gris

    Wines made from the Pinot gris vary greatly and are dependent on the region and wine making style they are from. Alsatian Pinot Gris are medium to full bodied wines with a rich, somewhat floral bouquet. They tend to be spicy in comparisons with other Pinot Gris. German Pinot Gris is more full-bodied with a balance of acidity and slight sweetness. In Oregon the wines are medium bodied with a yellow to copper-pink color and aromas of pear, apple, and/or melon. In California, Pinot Gris is more light bodied with a crisp, refreshing taste with some pepper and arugula notes. Pinot Gris is known as Pinot Grigio in Italy.

  • Riesling

    Riesling is a white grape grown mostly in Germany and the Alsace region of France. Significant amounts are also found in Australia, the United States, Austria and Canada, where it has become one of the country's most successful varieties. Best suited for cool climates, this aromatic grape can be used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling is also used to produce late harvest dessert and icewines.

    Riesling's natural aromas evoke flowers, apples, pears, peaches, and tropical fruits; petroleum notes can also develop with time in the cellar. Its high levels of both acidity and sugar make it easy to pair with a large variety of foods, from fish or pork to Thai and Chinese cuisines.

    Riesling wines can be enjoyed when young, as they exhibit fruity and aromatic aromas. However, Riesling's naturally high acidity make it suitable for extended aging.

  • Sauvignon Blanc

    Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which originates from the Bordeaux and Loire regions of France. It is now planted in many of the world's wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. Conversely, the grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac. Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, California, and South America.

    Depending on the climate, the flavour can range from aggressively grassy (green peppers, fresh-cut grass) to citrusy (grapefruit) to sweetly tropical (notably, passionfruit). Wine experts have used the phrase "crisp, elegant, and fresh" as a favourable description of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley and New Zealand. Following the Bordeaux example, it can also be barrel-aged, which gives it more roundness and elegance. Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with fish or cheese, particularly Chèvre. It is also known as one of the few wines that can pair well with sushi.

  • Semillon

    Semillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, most notably in France and Australia. Along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, Semillon is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region. The grape is also key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes.

  • Soave

    Soave (pronounced SWAH-vay) is a dry white wine from the Veneto region in northeast Italy, principally around the city of Verona. It's generally designed to be drunk a year or two after the vintage. It is a user-friendly white, which offers good value for money: a wine from which one expects neither complexity nor ageing potential but rather a clean fragrance and an appealing freshness and delicacy. Some producers, however, have worked on raising the general quality and offer some high-end and single-vineyard bottlings. Made from the Garganega and Trebbiano di soave, it is almost always vinified in stainless steel, a method which allows the wine's attractive floral and fruity notes to express themselves fully. It is also used to make a dessert wine, Recioto di Soave, made from partially dried grapes.

  • Torrontes

    Torrontés is the characteristic white wine grape of Argentina, producing fresh, aromatic white wines. Three criolla varieties exist in Argentina: Torrontés Riojano, the most common; Torrontés Sanjuanino; and Torrontés Mendocino. The Salta region, in northern Argentina, is generally thought to produce the best wines from this variety. Genetically related to Muscat, it shows that relationship through a highly aromatic character, which can become very rich when the grapes are harvested in the traditional, fully-ripe style. However, this traditional style is also characterized by an almost oily texture and some bitterness, which has led it to fall somewhat out of favour, with most producers now favouring earlier picking and more citric notes. A grape called Torrontés is also found in Galicia in Spain.

  • Vidal

    Vidal is a white French hybrid variety grown primarily in the northeastern US and Canada. Vidal is sometimes grown to create a white table wine, though more often it is used to produce sweet late-harvest and icewines wines. Vidal, as a white table wine, has clean aromas of sweet citrus, pink grapefruit, and floral notes. It is a refreshing and medium bodied white wine with crisp clean acidity. When it's used to make ice wines, vidal often has an apricot and tangerine flavor.

  • Vinho Verde

    Vinho Verde is a Portuguese wine from the Minho region in the far north of the country. The name literally means "Green Wine", referring to its youthful freshness rather than its color. Indeed, there are red vinhos verdes, although they are hardly ever found outside of Portugal. Vinhos Verdes are light, fresh, often slightly fizzy, and intended for drinking within a year, although producers are increasingly making a more serious and complex style of wine destined to show the appellation's potential. Vinho Verde is very fresh, due its natural acidity, with fruity and floral aromas, depending of the grape variety. The white wines have a light lemon or straw colour, and are made from local grape varieties Alvarinho, Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Avesso and Azal.

  • Viognier

    Viognier (vee-ohn-yay) is a white wine grape. Viognier wines are well-known for their floral and tropical aromas. Its popularity has increased greatly, since the 1980s, both in France and elsewhere around the world. While its most renowned incarnation is in the Condrieu appellation, in the Northern Rhône, it is used more and more frequently in white blends from the Languedoc-Roussillon and in other appellations of the Rhône and Southern France. It is also found in significant amounts in California and Australia, as well as in Virginia (where it has become an emblematic grape for the state) and in Canada. Traditionally, small amounts of viognier were added to syrah in the famous Côte-Rôtie appellation, and the tradition has since been picked up by a number of Australian producers.

  • White Blend

Dessert

  • Icewine

    Icewine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive.

    The most famous (and expensive) ice wines are German Eiswein and Canadian Icewine but ice wine is also made in other countries around the world.

  • Late Harvest

    Late harvest is a term applied to wines made from grapes left on the vine longer than usual. Late harvest wines are typically sweet, fruity dessert wines, though lighter and not as sweet as Icewine. Late Harvest wines are also considerably less expensive than icewines.

  • Other Dessert

  • Sauternes

    Sauternes is a French dessert wine from the Sauternais, part of the Graves region of Bordeaux. Sauternes is made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot. This causes the grapes to become partially raisined, resulting in concentrated and distinctively flavored wines. Sauternes is one of the few wine regions where infection with noble rot is a frequent occurrence, due to its climate. Even so, wine production varies greatly from vintage to vintage, depending on the amount of botrytis-affected grapes and their general condition and ripeness.

Fortified

  • Madeira

    Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made on the island of Madeira, in the Atlantic Ocean. The wine is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines more usually consumed with dessert. Madeira is a very robust wine that can age for decades, sometimes even over a century, and also be quite long lived after being opened.

  • Other Fortified

  • Port

    Port is a Portuguese, fortified wine from the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal. It is typically a sweet red wine, but also comes in dry, semi-dry and white varieties. It is often served as a dessert wine. Wines in the style of port are produced around the world in several countries, but under European Union guidelines, only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port.

    There are many styles of ports, divided into two major families: rubys (which includes vintage and late bottled vintage ports) and tawnys (including the single-vintage colheitas). Vintage ports, which are bottled young in only the best years, when a vintage declaration is allowed by the consortium overseeing the production of port, fetch the highest prices and can age for decades if not centuries.

    A Tawny Port is made from a red Port wine that has matured in wooden barrels, whose permeability allows a small amount of exposure to oxygen, and experience what is known as "oxidative" aging. If red grapes are used, in time the red colour lightens to a tawny colour - these are known as Tawny (or sometimes Wood) ports. They also lose volume to evaporation, leaving behind a wine that is slightly more viscous and intense.

  • Sherry

    Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes that are grown near the town of Jerez, Spain. After fermentation is complete, sherry is fortified with brandy. Because the fortification takes place after fermentation, most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later. Sherry is produced in a variety of styles, ranging from dry, light versions such as Finos to much darker and sometimes sweeter versions known as Olorosos.

Sparkling

  • Cava

    Spain produces a large amount of sparkling wines, called cava after the cellars in which the wine is produced. These wines are made in the “méthode champenoise” or “Champagne method,” which is the same method that is used to make Champagne. Cavas, produced in Catalunya using the macabeo, xarel-lo and parellada varieties, range from the cheap and simple to some reserve cuvées than can show remarkable finesse.

  • Champagne

    Champagne is a region in France and only sparkling wines produced in this region may properly be called "Champagne". Most champagne is made from several vintages and several vineyard sites, and produced by large houses who use this approach to maintain consistency in style, and which are well-distributed around the world. Recently, grower champagnes, made by individual vignerons and putting the accent on individual vintages and vineyards, have become much more fashionable.

    "Brut" (and "Extra Brut") are the most regarded types of Champagne and the driest. Extra Dry, Sec and Demi-Sec and doux are each slightly sweeter wines.

  • Moscato D'asti

    Moscato d'Asti is a "Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita" sparkling white wine produced mainly in the province of Asti, north-west Italy, and in smaller nearby regions in the provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo. The wine is sweet and low in alcohol, and often enjoyed with dessert. They are produced using Moscato Bianco, the local name for Muscat à petits grains.

  • Other Sparkling

  • Prosecco

    Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in Veneto, one of Italy's main producing regions, in the Northeastern part of the country, more specifically in the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano areas, which are named in the DOC appellations. The name is also often used for the grape used to make the wine, although the variety was officially renamed glera in 2009.

    Unlike champagne, Prosecco is almost always produced using the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, making the wine less expensive to produce. This inexpensive character has been a key factor in Prosecco's fast-growing popularity in the last two decades.

    A few producers do make traditional method cuvées, using a second fermentation in bottle, or an even more traditional style called Col Fondo (with the bottom, litterally, or with the lees, more precisely), with some lees remaining at the bottom and making the wine slightly cloudy with a different flavor profile.

  • Sparkling Pink

    Rosé sparkling wines are produced in two different manners: by saignée, meaning that a certain amount of juice is "bled" out of white must made from red grapes with white pulp, resulting in a light pink coloration, or by adding red wine to white sparkling wine. Often made in part or in whole from pinot noir, they can also be produced using gamay, grenache, trepat (in rosé cavas) and many other varieties.

    Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy. The classic example of a sparkling wine is Champagne, but many other examples are produced in other countries and regions, such as Cava in Spain, Asti in Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine being Spumante) and Cap Classique in South Africa. In some parts of the world, the word "champagne" is used as a synonym for sparkling wine, although laws in Europe and other countries reserve the word champagne for a specific type from the Champagne region of France.

  • Sparkling Red

    Much less common than their white or rosé counterparts, red sparkling wines are produced in a few regions, sometimes traditionally (like the Lambruscos of Italy), sometimes as more recent innovations (like Australian sparkling Shiraz).

  • Sparkling White

    Sparkling wine is a wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy. The classic example of a sparkling wine is Champagne, but many other examples are produced in other countries and regions, such as Cava in Spain, Franciacorta in Italy (the generic Italian term for sparkling wine being Spumante), Sekt in Germany and Cap Classique in South Africa. In some parts of the world, the word "champagne" is used as a synonym for sparkling wine, although laws in Europe and other countries reserve the word champagne for a specific type from the Champagne region of France.

Rose

  • Rose

    A Rose wine has some of the color typical of a red wine, but only enough to turn it pink. The pink color can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques. Rose is made from red wine grapes, where the red skins have been removed early in the process. Some rose wines are made by blending white wine with a little red, but this method is uncommon and discouraged.

Spirits

  • Armagnac

    Like Cognac, Armagnac is a region specific brandy from France. It's history dates back over 700 years making it the oldest 'eau de vie' in the country.

    Armagnac Appellation Contrôlée was defined in 1936 and comprises of three regions: Bas-Armagnac, Armagnac-Ténarèze and Haut-Armagnac.

  • Bourbon

    Bourbon is a type of American whiskey – a barrel-aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County, Kentucky (which, in turn, was named after the French House of Bourbon royal family). It has been produced since the 18th century.[1] While it may be made anywhere in the United States, it is strongly associated with Kentucky specifically, and the American South in general.

  • Brandy

    The term brandy is essentially used for spirits distilled from grapes. Cognac and Armagnac are the best-known versions, although brandies are produced all around the world. There are also brandies produced from other fruits (apricot brandy, cherry brandy, etc.)

  • Cognac

    Cognac is considered the most prestigious brandy in the world. The distillation process is over 300 years old and is protected under French law. All Cognac is brandy, but only brandy from the Cognac region in France can be called Cognac.

  • Eau De Vie

    Eau-de-vie is a generic term for beverages obtained from the distillation of fruits, cereals or herbs. The term is often used for dry and aromatic spirits made from (or at least, with) fruits.

  • Gin

    Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest beginnings in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved over the course of a millennium from an herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Today, the gin category is one of the most popular and widely distributed range of spirits, and is represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.

  • Grappa

    Grappa (as well as French Marc) is distilled from grape pomace, meaning the skins, pips and other residues of wine fermentation left behind after the grapes are pressed. They can be aged in barrels, which gives them a golden hue, but are often sold directly after being distilled, as white spirits.

  • Liqueur

    Liqueurs are spirits containing a certain amount of sugar. They can be made from - or flavored with - a wide range of fruits, herbs and spices.

  • Rum

    Rhum is a spirit produced essentially in the Americas from sugar cane juice (in the case of "agricole" rhums) or molasses (for most industrial or artisan rhums). It can be made as a white, young spirit, darker-colored barrel-aged version or spiced rhums.

  • Scotch

    Scotch is the name given to whisky produced exclusively in Scotland. It is made in every region of Scotland, whether as blends or as single malts, made by a single distillery, the latter being generally the most renowned. Legally, scotch must be aged for a minimum of three years in barrels no larger than 700 liters, but a lot of scotches are aged for 10, 12, 15 years or more.

  • Tequila

    Tequila is a distilled spirit made in Mexico from a specific kind of cactus called agave. There are many styles, from simpler ones (silver or gold) to the more complex reposado or añejo, which are aged for varying periods of time.

  • Vodka

    Vodka, the most popular spirits in the world, was originally created centuries ago in either Russia or Poland. It is generally produced from potatoes or cereals. Vodka has very minimal aromas, due to multiple distillations, but it can also be flavored with fruits, herbs or spices.

  • Whisky

    Whisky (Scottish English and British English) or whiskey (Hiberno-English and American English) is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Whisky is aged in wooden casks, made generally of white oak, except that in the United States corn whiskey need not be aged.

    Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many competing denominations of origin and many classes and types. The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wood.

Other Wine, Cider & Beer

  • Beer

    The term beer encompasses a mind-boggling diversity of alcoholic drinks fermented from a number of different cereals. Beers are found in practically every country, in every nuance of color, alcohol content and aromatic profiles, under a number of different appellations (ale, lager, stout, bitter, porter, etc.).

  • Cider

    Cider is an alcoholic drink made from apples, whose alcohol content varies from 2 to 10%. It can be sparkling or still, and it is sometimes flavored with berries. They can also be made from pears and are then called perrys. Québec also uses its climatic conditions to produce ice cider, made in a similar spirit as ice wine, from frozen apples or frozen apple juice.

  • Fruit & Other Wines

    While the term wine is first and foremost used for alcoholic beverages brewed from grapes, wines can also be produced from practically any other kind of fruit, from wild berries to tropical fruit.

  • Sake

    Sake is an alcoholic beverage brewed from rice, in a process closer to beer, rather than wine, even though it is often called rice wine. Its alcohol content is usually between 14 and 17%, and it is found in a diverse range of categories, mainly defined according to how much the rice grains have been polished. It can be served hot or cold, depending on styles and traditions.