What are the most common wine grape varieties?

In the wine world, there are around 1,400 common wine grape varieties (Vitis-vinifera) used for winemaking. Table grapes are different in that they have more pulp, less juice, thinner skins and more acid than winemaking grapes. Many of these varieties are obscure and aren’t represented in the modern wine market. With all of these varieties to choose from, the question begs, what are the most common wine grape varieties?

After hundreds of years industry professionals have come up with 18 Noble Grape Varieties. These consist of 9 white grape and 9 red grape varieties and would be the most common grape varieties in the world. All the rest are known as “alternates” and have their own wine shows and categories.

The 9  White Noble Grape Varieties 

Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Moscato, Gewürtztraminer, Semillon, Viognier and Chardonnay are the 9 most common white wine grapes. Roughly 70% of all wine grape production in Australia comes from these 9 varieties. For instance, the 32,000 hectares of Chardonnay planted is only topped by Shiraz for most produced.

Pinot Grigio: A grape originally from northern Italy which makes light, crisp wines with stone fruit and high acidity. The same grape will make Pinot Gris which is a more full-bodied, viscous and spicier which can cellar for a while. Entry level wines will be $15 – $20 and worth the money. More expensive versions ($60+) can be worth the money if you want to splash out. * {With any wine splurging do some research on the vintage once you pick the wine}  Pair with oily seafood as Pinot Grigio and Viognier have a nice oily/waxy texture that matches that type of seafood well. Pasta and chicken dishes go very well too. (Creamy Smoked Salmon Pasta, Lemon Chicken Piccata)

The 9 Red Noble Grape Varieties 

Pinot Noir, Grenache, Merlot, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Malbec. These 9 varieties account for 90% of the red wine grapes grown throughout the world and have been planted many places around the globe.

Pinot Noir: This red grape from Burgundy in France is maybe the most well-known red variety that means pine and black hence the spicy earthiness Pinot Noir’s usually have. It is a thin-skinned grape that can be fickle and tough to grow hence the prices are usually a bit higher than some other red varieties. A good starter Pinot Noir will start around $25 -$30 but a better quality one can be $45 – $50. Most are made to drink young but they can have long cellaring potential. Lighter Pinot’s pair well with fatty fish dishes or roasted chicken while bigger, more tannic one’s go great with gamey dishes including duck, turkey or casseroles.