Andrew Corrigan MW provides an insight to wine grapes and their taste.

If you don’t recognise names of producers of wines, don’t worry too much. Choose on the basis of the grape variety. Let’s take a look at what tastes you can expect.

Light fresh whites:

Semillon, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, blends of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, Arneis, Albarino, Vermentino.

Medium body whites:

Dry, but a little fuller in flavour – Pinot Gris, Marsanne and Sauvignon Blanc which has a lifted aroma and flavour.

Off-dry whites:

Not sweet enough to be dessert wines but contain some residual sugar, such as mainstream Rieslings from Germany, Alsace whites, Riesling and Gewurztraminer from Australia, NZ and the USA (mainstream Riesling in Australia is quite dry), and whites from the Loire Valley, especially Vouvray.

Fuller bodied whites:

Viognier is medium flavoured, with better examples being quite full-bodied. Chardonnay is generally full-bodied.


Can be quite dry ranging to quite fruity. Read the back label for a clue. Usually more expensive examples are dry (where sweetness is not required to cover up insipid flavour).

Medium/light bodied reds:

Pinot Noir and Grenache are medium and medium/light bodied reds. Blends of Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot and Mourvedre are usually medium bodied, rich and round to taste. Fuller flavours follow.

Generous soft reds:

Shiraz is the prime example. Some wines are products of old vine low yield vineyards, usually in warm regions such as the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale. The resulting wines are very fullbodied and fetch high prices.

Firm tannins red:

Cabernet Sauvignon has a great lingering flavor, more so than Shiraz. Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, both Italian varieties, have a strong savoury “tartness”. Tempranillo, (Spanish) offers a savoury, firm taste.

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