It can be very difficult to distinguish all the individual characters in each wine. Below is a simple chart of the most common aromas and tastes that you will find for the key grape varieties. Most of these characters are found naturally in the grape but some also come from the wine making process, during oak maturation and bottle ageing.
Moscato is an aromatic grape variety that is grown widely throughout Europe, particularly in the Asti region of Piedmont in Northern Italy. It can either be still or spritzy and is usually off dry.
Palate – Low to medium acid, off dry to sweet, light bodied, can be spritzy
Riesling is an aromatic grape variety from Germany. One of the Noble grapes, it can be made in dry, off dry to sweet, dessert styles. The finest Riesling can age over 50 years.
Palate – Medium to high acid, dry to sweet, light to medium bodied
Sauvignon is an aromatic grape variety Bordeaux in France but has been made popular by New Zealand in recent years. It can either be made in a stainless steel tank or matured in oak barrel.
Palate – Medium to high acid, usually dry or with some residual sugar, light to medium bodied
Semillon is a neutral grape variety from Bordeaux in France. It can be made in stainless steel or oak barrels, and enjoyed young or aged.
Palate – Low to high acid, dry, light to medium weight
Chardonnay is a neutral grape variety from Burgundy in France. One of the Noble grapes, it can be grown in a range of climates and made in a number of different styles, including light and fruity, fine and complex, and rich and full bodied. It is long lived and ages gracefully.
Palate – Light to medium acid, dry, medium to full bodied
Pinot Noir is one of the Noble grape varieties and is from Burgundy in France. It is difficult to grow and only thrives in cool climates. There are many different Pinot Noir clones each giving the wine a different character. Only produced in small volumes, Pinot Noir is one of the most expensive, cherished and long lived wines in the world.
Palate – Light to medium red colour, medium to high acid, dry, light to medium body, soft and complex with fine, silky tannins
Merlot is native to Bordeaux in France. Most of the time it is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to fill out the mid palate but can also be blended with Cabernet Franc, where the perfume of the Cabernet France complements the soft roundness of the Merlot.
Palate – Medium to dark purple colour, medium acid, dry, medium bodied, soft round fruit in the mid palate, soft to grippy tannins
Shiraz is native to France where it is called Syrah. One of the Noble grape varieties, Shiraz can be grown in a range of climates and styles, including cool climate peppery Syrah, warm climate dense and chocolaty Heathcote Shiraz, to hot climate, dark coloured jammy styles from the Barossa.
Palate -Medium to deep colour, medium to high acid, medium to full bodied, fine to grippy tannins
Cabernet Sauvignon is from Bordeaux in France and is one of Noble grape varieties. It is often blended with Merlot as it suffers from a hollow mid palate, which Merlot helps to fill out. It has excellent ageing potential due to its strcture, acid and firm tannins.
Palate – Medium to deep colour, medium acid, medium to full bodied, firm to coarse tannins that grow soft with age