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Popular varietal wines & grape varieties

Discover common wine varietals and what to expect from each type of wine. 

Discover the popular grape varieties and the delicious varietal wines they produce in New Zealand and around the world. Each guide tells you everything you need to know.

We produce some wonderful wines in New Zealand. Most of them are produced from a single variety of grape. 

These varietal wines can have a wide range of characteristics, flavours and aromas depending on the region, soil types and climate where the grape was planted. 

Use our guides below to learn a bit more about the main grape varieties and the varietal wines they produce.

Common questions about varietal wines

  • What is the difference between a grape variety and wine variety?

    A wine varietal is made using the fruit of a grape varietal, as in Chardonnay wine is made from Chardonnay grapes. Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot are examples of grape varieties.

    A grape variety is a specific species of grape within the genus of Vitis Viniferia which is the species of grape vines native to Europe and used to make wine. 

     

  • How many different varieties are there?

    There are around 10,000 different varieties of grapes.

    Potentially there are as many wine varietals as there are grape varietals, which is around 10,000, but in reality there are about 20 mainstream varietals.

  • What are the main grape varieties?
    In New Zealand they are Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Gewurtztraminer, Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.