PICTURE THIS. YOU ARE at one of your local wine retailer’s and you are glad that they have classified the wines according to origin making it especially easy for you to manoeuvre through Australian, New Zealand, South African or even USA wines. You know exactly what vines are in the bottle because all the information is clearly stated on the label; like Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and so on.
And then as you walk over to the France, Italy or Spain rack, you realize you don’t see those familiar Chardonnay or Shiraz grape names anymore. Instead you get Bordeaux, Beaujolais, Rioja… What do these words mean? Are they grape names as well?
As it turns out, Old World wine producers (such as those in France, Italy and Spain), name their wines according to the wine region the wine comes from rather than the grapes themselves. It is believed that certain grapes thrived best in different regions and when these regions produced excellent wines, they became notable. Thus wines thus became known according to the regions in the Old World Wine Country.
Another reason is also due to the regulation governing Old World wine making. Only selected grapes were grown in specific regions and thus were named as such.
FRANCE ─ REDS
Saint-Emilion (Bordeaux) – Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon
Medoc (Bordeaux) – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot
FRANCE – WHITES
Chablis – Chardonnay
Sancerre – Sauvignon Blanc
Beaujolais (Burgundy) – Chardonnay, Aligoté
ITALY – RED
Barbera d’Asti (Piedmont) – Barbera, Freisa, Grignolino or Dolcetto
Chianti – Sangiovese, Canaiolo Nero, Trebbiano
Valpolicella (Venetian) – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Molinara
Asti (Piemont) – Moscato
SPAIN – RED
Rioja – Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Sauvignon
SPAIN – WHITE
Do take note, however, that the mixture ratio of the grapes is dependent on the producer. It is different from year to year and cannot be specified. The order of the mentioned types of grapes in the wine is showed by weighing the share of the respective type of grapes in the wines but it is commonly accepted that the composition of the grapes is accurate according to the wines.
Trina is the founder of Wine Tasting Malaysia, an online based wine enthusiast group with weekly wine tasting events all around the Klang Valley. Often found with a wine glass in her hand, she truly believes life is so much more WINEderful with wines. She is currently on a quest to gather 1000 wine enthusiasts in Malaysia. Be part of her quest by joining Wine Tasting Malaysia via Wine Tasting Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) ─ Meetup or Facebook’s winetastingmalaysia She calls Subang Jaya her home and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org