TOP Wine Varieties of the World
Wine has been enjoyed since the beginning of civilization, and humans have become adept at producing different varieties. The taste of an individual wine is a reflection of the region’s terroir, which describes the environment in which it grows; specifically, its soil type, topography, and climate. Wines are often classified according to the dominant grapes used in their production and include famous names such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. These varietals are displayed on bottles to indicate that at least 75 percent of that grape has been used. However, European wines are traditionally named after the region in which they were produced and include blends such as Bordeaux. The following wines constitute five of the best wine varieties in the world.
Chardonnay is not only a true French classic, but it is also the world’s most popular dry white wine. The medium to full-bodied wine has an affinity for oak-aging and a plethora of fruity flavors that blend with buttery richness. Its lemon flavor is at its most uplifting when it is unoaked, but when it is aged it produces a spicy, nutty richness with notes of bourbon.
Chardonnay originates in Burgundy, but now it is grown in every wine-producing country in the world. Modern versions can be found in the Mediterranean regions of Europe and the New World, where they taste of tropical fruits, cinnamon, and butterscotch. Although a newly bought bottle of Chardonnay can be enjoyed immediately, it will improve if you keep it for five years. The best thing about Chardonnay is its versatility and it will go well with almost all meals and cheeses, particularly ripe ones like Brie and Camembert.
France’s enviable reputation as the world leader in wine production is inextricably linked to Bordeaux. As a benchmark for international wine, Bordeaux is one of the most coveted wine blends in the world. Its flavor is defined by a complex combination of black currants, plums, cedarwood, and perhaps the slightest hint of coffee beans. The grapes involved are primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and the wine is named after the region rather than the varietal. Vintages are more important in Bordeaux than other regions since the weather is so extreme from year to year.
Located in Southwest France, annual summer temperatures veer from bright and sunny to cool and wet, which can make the wines taste underripe. Fortunately, the white varieties of Bordeaux are less susceptible to these changes in weather conditions and should be enjoyed while they are young and fruity. Bordeaux Clairet is a very light and dry red wine that has a refreshing taste of summer fruits and goes well with simple foods such as pizza, lunch meats, and fish suppers.
Best Chardonnay Wine under $20
1. Bernardus, Chardonnay 2013. (White Wine)
2. Treana, Chardonnay 2017. (White Wine)
3. Raeburn, Chardonnay N.V. (White Wine)
4. Kenwood, Six Ridges Chardonnay N.V. (White Wine)
5. Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay. (White Wine)
Best Bordeaux Wine Under $20
1. Château Paloumey, Haut-Médoc 2016.
Château Malbec, Bordeaux 2016
Amelia, Crémant de Bordeaux Brut Rosé N.V.
Château Faizeau, Sélection Vieilles Vignes Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2016
Château Larrivaux, Haut-Médoc 2015
3. Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep, intense red that is a firm favorite with traditionalists. Although Bordeaux is its homeland, it is grown in almost every wine-producing country. The Old World’s finest varieties can also be found in Italy and the Navarre region of Spain, while Eastern Europe produces decent inexpensive appellations. It’s one of the most reliable wines you can find in terms of quality at every price level. It also has higher tannins a distinctive blackcurrant taste that mingles with the woody aroma of cedar and cigar boxes. New World examples also have a rich texture for which the grape is famous, but they can also have hints of mint or eucalyptus. The grape has been successful in Napa Valley, California, where its full-bodied wines burst with flavor regardless of their age. Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with cooked red meats and other higher-fat savory foods.
Best Cabernet Sauvignon Under $20
|$18||Sharecropper’s, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017||4.4||Columbia Valley||United States|
|$18||Michael David Winery, Earthquake Cabernet Sauvignon 2016||4.2||Lodi||United States|
|$20||Treana, Cabernet Sauvignon N.V.||4.2||Paso Robles||United States|
|$20||DAOU, Cabernet Sauvignon 2017||4.2||Paso Robles||United States|
|$20||Tensley, Joey Tensley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016||4.2||Central Coast||United States|
4. Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last decade and it is admired for its dry, crisp aroma. The citrus-driven grape variety was originally grown in the Loire Valley, which is still its heartland though it is also grown in Bordeaux. These days, it is better known in the “New World” wine-growing regions in Chile, California, South Africa, and Australia. Its tangiest varieties can be found as far away as Marlborough in New Zealand where it is characterized by its bold style and succulent exotic fruits and gooseberry flavors. Adelaide Hills in Australia produces a juicy Sauvignon appellation full of zesty flavor and acidity that is best enjoyed within a year of its release. These boisterous, full-flavored Sauvignon Blancs go perfectly with cheeses and creamy dishes, as well as delicate white fish such as sole.
Best Sauvignon Blanc Under $20
|$13||Rapaura Springs, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2018||4.3||Marlborough||New Zealand|
|$18||Hillersden Estate, Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc 2017||4.3||Marlborough||New Zealand|
|$16||Whitehaven, Sauvignon Blanc 2017||4.2||Marlborough||New Zealand|
|$19||Esk Valley, Sauvignon Blanc 2018||4.2||Marlborough||New Zealand|
|$18||Auntsfield, Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2018||4.2||Marlborough||New Zealand|
5. Shiraz (Syrah)
Also known as Syrah, Shiraz is a full-bodied red wine that has a spicy fruit flavor and middleweight tannins. Despite its tannic nature, it matures to blend blackberry and raspberry flavors into a smooth texture and a gratifyingly intense taste. Originating in the Rhone Valley, France (where it is known as Syrah), the European varieties are more muted with a smoky backbone, while Australian Shiraz has a richer and more chocolatey quality that is difficult to imitate. In fact, Shiraz is one of Australia’s most desirable wines, and those produced in the Hunter and Barossa Valleys are the most sought after for their sun-ripened intensity. These age-worthy wines are best kept for a couple of years before opening. Shiraz goes well with strong-tasting foods and hard cheeses, such as Manchego, because they complement its powerful flavor.
Best Shiraz/Syrah Wine
|$20||Mollydooker, The Boxer Shiraz 2016|
Casas del Bosque, Syrah Gran Reserva 2015
|$24||Cederberg, Shiraz 2016|
|4.1||Citrusdal Mountain||South Africa|
|$20||Lafond, SRH Syrah 2014|
|4.1||Sta. Rita Hills||United States|
|$19||Piedrasassi, Syrah 2017|
|4.1||Santa Barbara County||United States|