A good wine is the result of many complex factors: variety, region and process chief among them. Choosing the right wine for an occasion becomes less difficult as you become familiar with a wine's character. Here, we offer information on the grapes that are at the heart of some of the more popular varietals and blends.
Grown only in Tuscany, Italy, at present; a selection of Sangiovese, grown for one of the best and most expensive Italian red wines, Brunello di Montalcino.
Grown in the Bordeaux district in France, the middle Loire Valley in France, in Italy and recently, in California; related to Cabernet Sauvignon and similar. Also call "Breton" in France. Generally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot in Bordeaux.
Often called the "king" of red grapes, cabernet sauvignon is, along with merlot, the famous grape of Bordeaux, and is also grown in other renowned wine regions throughout the world including California, Washington state, Italy, Australia, and Chile. Cabernet sauvignon possesses what can be an impressive structure along with deep, rich cassis flavors.
Grown only in California; originally thought to be the "true" Gamay of the Beaujolais district. Now identified as a strain of Pinot Noir. Will be gradually phased out in the future; its wines, however, are generally quite fruity and good.
Grown in the Bordeaux district in France; in Argentina; tiny quantities in California. Fine quality red wine grape; used for wines of Cahors, blended with Cabernet in Bordeaux. Give, rich, full red wines. Should be more widely planted.
The most widely planted grape in Bordeaux, merlot, a red grape, is also grown in most of the same places as cabernet sauvignon. And in fact, the two are often blended. Because merlot in general has somewhat less tannin than cabernet sauvignon, it often feels softer on the palate. Its flavors often run to mocha and boysenberry.
Grown in Piemonte and Lombardy, Italy; small acreage in California. Grown for all the great northern Italian reds - Barolo, Barbaresco, Ghemme, Gattinara, and Valtellina. Very fine wines - rich, slow to mature.
Grown in California and also in parts of France; originally thought to be a strain of Syrah; actually a different grape, known as Duriff. Gives excellent, very rich red wines, increasingly popular as a varietal.
Grown in the French Champagne district; in Burgundy, Switzerland, Germany, eastern Europe, South America, and California. Excellent red wine grape, but not always easy to grow. Vinified as a "blanc de noirs", away from the skins, to make Champagne. Traditionally, California Pinot Noirs have tended to be too light in color, but there has been tremendous improvement recently.
Grown in Tuscany and in Emilia-Romagna, Italy; important grape used for Chianti, but blended with as many as four other grapes for this purpose. Elsewhere, usually sold as a varietal. Now very promising in California.
Grown in the Rhône district of France. Produce the great Rhône reds - Côte Rotie, Hermitage, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Recently introduced in California; not to be confused with Petite Sirah. Gives very rich, robust red wines.
The much loved red grape of California, zinfandel is grown almost no place else. Its history is a mystery, though scientists think the grape may be related to a Croatian grape. Zinfandel has a thick berryness that is sometimes described as being jammy or chewy. White zinfandel (not a separate grape variety) is made when zinfandel grapes are fermented without their dark purple skins.
Grown in the Burgundy and districts of France; in California, eastern Europe and in South America. Very easy to enjoy thanks to its full, round body and buttery, appley flavors laced with toastiness (the latter comes from the oak barrels used in the making of most chardonnays)
Grown in the Loire Valley, France; in California and in South America. Fine white wine grape; grown for Vouvray, Coteaux du Layon and Savennières in the Loire. Gives soft, scented wines, generally with a slight sweetness, best when not too dry.
Grown in Alsace, France; in Germany, Austria, northern Italy, and in California. A superior selection of Traminer; gives full-bodied wines with a characteristic "spicy" flavor. Has reddish berries that give white juice, very full in flavor.
Grown in the Mediterranean region; also in northern Italy, in France, and California; excellent sweet grape; grown for Asti Spumante, the famous Italian sparkling wine. Known as Moscato, produces outstanding sweet dessert wines in Italy and in California.
One of the white grapes of the pinot family. Grown in the Champagne and Burgundy districts of France; in Alsace, Germany, Italy and California; very similar to Chardonnay, giving wines of the same character and class, but being phased out generally in favor of Chardonnay.
A white grape of the pinot family; like riesling and gewurztraminer, pinot grigio loves cold climates. The most renowned pinot grigios come from the northernmost regions of Italy, especially around the Alps, as well as Alsace, where it is known as pinot gris' or, confusingly, as "tokay." In the U.S., Oregon is emerging as the top state for pinot gris' with light almond, lemon and vanilla flavors.
Grown in Alsace, France; Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy; a cousin of the red Pinot Noir. Called Pinot Grigio in Italy, Rulander in Germany, and Malvoisie in Switzerland. Gives fine, full-bodied white wines, with a fine bouquet.
Grown in the upper Loire Valley, France; in Bordeaux, Chile, Australia, and California; very fine grape, grown for Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume in the Loire, and Graves blanc and Sauternes in Bordeaux. Gives equally good dry or sweet wines, sometimes call Fumé Blanc to identify a deliberately dry style, from 100% varietal.
Grown in the Bordeaux district of France, in South America, Australia, and California; the second important grape in white Graves and Sauternes from Bordeaux; excellent for sweet wines, best when not totally dry; often blended with Sauvignon Blanc.
Grown in Italy and France; some acreage in California; known as Ugni Blanc in France, grown for brandy production; a chief grape used for Soave, Orvieto, Frascati, and other Italian whites. Also known as "Saint-Émilion."
Grown in central Europe, Australia, and California; outstanding grape, grown for the great wines of the Rhine and Mosel regions in Germany. Gives excellent results in California, best when not too dry. Also called Johannisberg Riesling.
Grown in the southern Rhône district of France; in Spain, and in California. Grown for Tavel and Lirac, among the best rose wines of France; generally has insufficient color for red wines, and is blended with other grapes, as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Gives excellent rosé wines in California.
A variety of the much loved zinfandel grape of California, white zinfandel wine is made when zinfandel grapes are fermented without their dark purple skins. White zinfandel wine has a pink color and is best served chilled.
The name Champagne refers to a specific wine producing method in the Champagne region of France. Elsewhere, it is referred to as sparkling wine due to the bubbles produced during the unique double fermentation process (giving it its unique body and fizz). Sparkling wine is not a varietal itself but most often a combination of the varietals Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot meunier.
Prosecco grapes are grown in the northern Veneto region of Italy in the foothills of the Alps, and the name Prosecco is also used for the sparkling wine made from the grapes. Prosecco wine pairs well with seafood.
Matthew Fox Vineyards crafts premium quality grapes into exceptional wines known for their distinctive flavor and character.
GET 10% OFF
Buy any 6 bottles of wine, get 10% off.
or email your family to get them excited about what's on the
menu for tonight!
Order Gift Cards is temporarily offline. Your business is important to us. Please contact us at 1.800.811.1748 Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM EST.