Great wine begins with great grapes. Capitalizing on the state’s diverse geography and climates, California wine-grape growers can grow a wide range of grape varieties and styles. The Golden State boasts more than 100 different varieties of wine grapes, thanks to its diverse topography, soils, climates and growers.
With respect for tradition and a propensity for innovation, California’s wine-grape growers are able to produce some of the best grapes, and wines, in the world. Here’s a look at some of California’s most notable wine grapes:
Merlot is pronounced mair-LOW
For a long time, merlot grapes were known for their ability to blend well with cabernet sauvignon, but the grape has also carved out its own niche as a popular single variety. Merlot grapes have a redder hue than cabernet sauvignon grapes and thinner skin; the grapes also have fewer tannins, which can make the wines soft and smooth.
Taste: Merlots can be sleek, elegant and rich in plum and berry fruitiness. The wines are medium-bodied with moderate acidity and soft tannins. Long-lasting flavors make them good all-purpose wines.
Perfect Food Matches: The expensive versions pair well with moderately rich meats, such as grilled steak or lamb chops, and roast lamb or duck; less expensive wines are great with tomato-sauced pasta, burgers, and barbequed chicken.
Varietal grape photos: Copyright © The Regents of the University of California.