Nebbiolo (neb-ee-OH-low)

One of the oldest and most important varieties in Piedmont, Italy, “nibiol” was first mentioned in Piedmontese documents in the early 13th century. Its parents are presumed extinct but its origin does appear to be… Continue reading

Mourvèdre (moor-VED-rah)

If you were ever an English major, you’ll know what I mean by this: mourvèdre is the Heathcliff of red grapes. It’s dark, hard-edged, almost brooding flavors are never light, juicy, or lively. Mourvèdre has… Continue reading

Muscat (MUS-cat)

No matter what anyone says, I doubt Eve was tempted by an apple in the Garden of Eden. A cataclysm of original sin … all for a plain apple? It makes no sense. Some muscat… Continue reading

Merlot (mehr-LOW)

Very similar in flavor and texture to cabernet sauvignon, merlot is easily confused with it in blind tastings. Indeed, the two share the same father—cabernet franc. But merlot’s mother is the grape magdeleine noire des… Continue reading

Malbec (MAL-beck)

Indigenous to southwestern France, malbec, the now popular name for the grape variety cot, is the offspring of two obscure French grapes—magdeleine noire des Charentes and prunelard. While malbec is one of the five grapes… Continue reading


Gamay, or more properly gamay noir, is the source of the French wine Beaujolais (including Beaujolais Nouveau), oceans of which are washed down in Parisian bistros every year. Of all the well known red grapes,… Continue reading

Gewürztraminer (guh-VURZ-tra-meen-er)

More than almost any other wine we might regularly encounter, gewürztraminer’s nose is heady (sorry, couldn’t resist). In fact, the explosive aromas of gewürztraminer—roses, litchis, gingerbread, orange marmalade, grapefruit pith, fruit-cocktail syrup—come vaulting out of… Continue reading

Grenache (gren-AHSH)

Grenache is well known both as a white grape (grenache blanc) and a red (grenache noir). The red grenache noir is especially valued and makes a slew of stunning wines around the world. It is,… Continue reading


To any wine drinker, it comes as no surprise that for several decades, chardonnay has been one of the most successful white wines in the world. The wine’s easily understood, appealing flavors—vanilla, butter, butterscotch, buttered… Continue reading