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Grapes are the main ingredient that makes wine taste the way it does.

While there can be differences in the wine made from a single grape variety, the fact that a certain type of grape was used lets tasters know the basic information about the winemaker's intentions.

Natually, grapes take on the flavor of the soil, Grapes like riesling and pinot noir, for example, taste very different when grown in different areas. Yet knowing which wine grapes went into the mash gives you a head start on getting a wine you'll enjoy.

syrah grape
gerwurztraminer grapes
pinot noir grapes
Pinot Noir
riesling grapes
merlot grapes
chardonnay grapes

Some wine characteristics by grape type

Chardonnay - Pronounced oaky and citrus flavors characterize one of the world's most favorite white wines.
- A heady combination of clean fruit with a peppery afterglow. ("Gewürz" means 'spice' in German.)
Merlot - Look for hints of black cherry, plum and cocoa, along with oak when aged in oak barrels.
Pinot Noir - One of the world's most fragrant grapes with cherry and red berry flavors.
Riesling - Pure flavors of fruit with a distinct floral aroma.
Syrah - One of the boldest and full-bodied red grapes with smoky and black berry flavors.

When it comes to naming grapes, winemakers try to maintain an industry standard. However, some grapes go by different names or spellings - such as the Syrah (or Sirah), which in South Africa is known as the Shiraz; in Australia, Hermitage.

If the listings in the reviews or on the wine labels confuse you, these grape primers just up ahead will help you sort the Merlot from the Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer, or the Muscat from the Muscadet...

More information about wine grapes around the Web:

Grapes and the Wines of the World - Here's a treasure of wine-related information, but here the focus is on the grape vine inducing photos & illustrations of every part of the root, stem, leaf structure, and more grape anatomy.

German Wine Grape Varieties - If you don't know a Spätburgunder from a Gewürztraminer this site can help. Simply click on the name of the grape and you'll get a good picture with information about where the grapes are grown and what types of wine are made from them.

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