Study Guides: Wine Grapes

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Chardonnay

Chardonnay is the most planted white wine grape in the world. It is easily the most popular white grape that is sold in the restaurant environment, and knowing about the styles, regions and production methods will help you become a more successful purchaser and seller of the worlds most popular white grape.

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Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is the second most popular grape ordered in restaurants, and certainly has its loyal following. It hails from the Bordeaux region of France, but has made its name from the wines of Sancerre in the Loire Valley. It has found a second home in Napa Valley, as well as many other new world wine regions.

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Riesling

Riesling is more than just the sweet white wine; it produces some of the most interesting whites on the planet. While Germany has certainly claimed this variety as its own, many countries produce Riesling in a wide variety of styles. The sweet, low-quality wines of the 70’s are gone and a new era of Riesling enthusiasts are met with fantastic quality from all parts of the globe.

Other Whites

Here are some additional white grapes one should be familiar with when working in a hospitality setting.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is one of the most prolific grape varieties in the world, commanding a higher average price than any other wine grape. From Burgundy to the coastal regions of California and beyond; this grape shines as a labor of love for those who produce it. A notoriously difficult grape to grow, it shows its sense of place like no other grape variety, giving off a true representation of the vintage it was grown in and the land it was produced upon.

Syrah and Grenache

Syrah and Grenache are inextricably linked, as they are the primary grape varieties grown in one of the most notable regions in the world, the Rhône Valley of France.

Merlot

Merlot is another classic grape variety that can be found all over the world. As one of the most planted grapes, the quality of these offerings often depends upon the location it is grown and the producers desired outcome. The most expensive examples can be found in the typical areas of Bordeaux, France and California; yet there are many areas of the world producing fantastic examples of Merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon's popularity is undisputed, as it is the most purchased red grape in American restaurants. Hailing from the Bordeaux region of France, it has made its home in countless countries from Eastern Europe to Australia, having a devout following among wine drinkers.