Every wine drinker in the world is surely familiar with wines made from the Vitis vinifera wine grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and, probably, Riesling. While Zinfandel, Malbec and Tempranillo may not have quite the same name recognition but there’s no doubt that regular wine consumers are familiar with their names. But what about Petit Corbu, Kotsifali or Monica?
By some estimates there are more than 10,000 wine grape varieties in the world, so unless you are an enologist, a sommelier, or some other well informed wine professional it is unlikely that you’ll know every one of them. Still, since it’s always fun to test one’s knowledge here’s a little grape quiz to challenge your enological smarts by seeing how many of these grape varieties you can describe, including place of origin and type of wine. Hint: most, but not all, of them are Vitis vinifera grapes. (Answers appear below.)
7. Petit Corbu
1. Aestivalis: Vitis aestivalis is found mostly in the eastern United States where it is sometimes called the “summer grape.”
2. Areni: An ancient Vitis vinifera grape from Armenia where it is still used to make popular high quality dry and sweet red wines.
3. Airén—An old Spanish Vitis vinifera white grape associated with Spain and used mostly for brandy. Until recently it was estimated to be the world’s most widely grown grape but, as of 2016, it has dropped to fourth place.
4. Kotsifali—A Vitis vinifera Greek red wine grape indigenous to Crete. It is high in alcohol and rich in flavor.
5. Monica—A red Vitis vinifera wine grape of Spanish origin but now grown mostly on Sardinia. Makes low acid, earthy, medium-bodied wines.
6. Parellada—Another Spanish Vitis vinifera grape, Parellada is one of the three grape varieties traditionally found in Cava sparkling wine along with Macabeo and Xarello (both Spanish varieties). Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have lately begun showing up in Cava.
7. Petit Corbu--A white Vitis vinifera grape from the Gascony region in southwestern France. Notably fragrant, with aromas of honey and citrus, Petit Corbu is generally a medium-bodied wine.
8. Pošip—A white grape indigenous to Croatia, its wines tend to be aromatic, fresh and crisp, with fruity aromas, and is generally thought to be a good partner for seafood. This Vitis vinifera grape is indigenous to the island of Korčula but is now grown extensively on the Dalmatian coast.
9. Trousseau (also known as Bastardo or Merenzao) is an old Vitis vinifera red grape variety that originated in eastern France but is now more apt to be found in Portugal, where it is used in Port wine production. It is believed to be a sibling of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.
10. Vergennes is a red grape that was first discovered in upstate New York in 1874. Some think it is a pure Labrusca variety (therefore an indigenous American grape), others believe it to be a Labrusca/Vinifera blend; the jury is apparently still out. This white wine has been described as having high acidity and a touch of sweetness, and being slightly fruity and crisp (NY State’s Arbor Hill Winery recently won a gold medal at the Finger Lakes’ International Wine Competition for its Vergennes).
11. Yaqui, a Vitis vinifera grape, is cultivated almost exclusively in Spain’s Andalusia region. Do not confuse it with Yaqui hybrid tomatoes!