Teinturier grape varieties:

A. Were all in existence in France before the French Revolution

B. Have leaves that end in ten “teeth” along the outer edge of the leaf

C. Are trained to climb up trees so that they rise 30 or more feet in the air

D. Are red grape varieties with red skins and red flesh


Teinturier (TON-ter-ee-AYE), French for “dyed or stained,” varieties are the result of rare natural mutations that produce grapes with red flesh (pulp) as well as red skins. Most red grape varieties have red skins, but white flesh. Among the leading teinturier varieties are alicante bouschet, saperavi, and chambourcin. Alicante bouschet (ah-lee-CAHNT boo-SHAY) is the most well-known, long used to add deeper color to inexpensive wines made from prolific varieties that were paler in shade. Saperavi, the leading variety in the Republic of Georgia, on the other hand, makes mostly single-varietal wines with age-worthy potential. Chambourcin (SHAM-boor-sin), a French-American hybrid popular in Canada, appeared in the early 1960s, bred for its disease and cold-resistant properties. During the 1920s and 1930s, as much as a third of California’s entire wine grape production was teinturiers. During Prohibition, a provision in The Volstead Act, allowed households to make up to 200 gallons of wine a year for personal consumption. Virtually overnight, demand among average Americans for wine grapes exploded, sending California growers scrambling to plant grape varieties hardy enough for the cross-country railroad journeys. It was the red pulped varieties that were known to possess the antioxidant qualities that kept spoilage to a minimum. Following Prohibition’s repeal, the market for these grapes dried up and their vineyards were replanted with European noble varieties.

Get WineSpeed

Join tens of thousands of other wine lovers. Get each week’s edition of WineSpeed delivered to your inbox every Friday. It’s fast. It’s free. It’s the smartest way to stay up to speed on wine.
Email address
First Name
Last Name
Be sure to check your inbox to confim your subscription.