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Wine Varietals to Know

Expand your wine knowledge by digging deeper into the big six grape varietals.
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With almost a Texan spirit, this white wine is large and in charge with a full body and unabashed flavor, alcohol and oakiness. This flamboyance can show itself in notes of tropical fruits such as mango or pineapple as well as a round, buttery texture. Renditions from cooler climates, or where winemakers desire a more subtle style, will be lighter in body and shade toward apples, pears or lemons and less butterscotch exuberance.


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Sauvignon Blanc

As a typically medium-bodied wine, Sauvignon Blanc is redolent of citrus fruits such as lemon and grapefruit along with an herbal, grassy quality that reminds many of a freshly mown lawn. Rarely oaky, it is also marked by ample acidity, a tongue-tingling zippiness that makes it taste clean and fresh, like an August plunge into a clear mountain lake.


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With a range of light- to medium-bodied varieties, Riesling can be anywhere from bone dry to semisweet to quite sweet, though sweeter versions, if they are good, will be counterbalanced by a fresh vein of acidity. It will treat your nose to a prism of delicate fruit flavors, often apples, honeysuckle or peaches. Because many consumers mistakenly associate Riesling with lower-quality, cloyingly sweet versions, the quality stuff is relatively neglected and thus often a good value in restaurants and stores.


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Cabernet Sauvignon

This full-bodied and intense wine comes to the party with a swirl of black currants and plums, often joined by hints of cinnamon, coffee or chocolate. Contact with oak can give it a dimension of vanilla or smoke. Cabernet often has a puckery tug of tannin that matches well with proteins and fat of meats and cheeses. 


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