Wine Varietal Guide

A varietal is a type of grape used in wine production. For example, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are two different types of grapes, having distinct colors, flavors and characteristics.

With more than 50 wine grape varietals grown throughout the state, Oregon produces a broad range of wines matched for every wine drinker’s palette.

To help you better understand the grapes behind Oregon’s wines, we have compiled this guide to the varietals grown in this state, as well as some of the styles and blends made by the various wineries.

Red Wine Varietals

Baco Noir

Pronunciation: BAH-co NWAHR Grape profile: A hearty, formerly French varietal, well suited to cooler North American climates. Wine tendencies: Baco Noir is a tannic, strong full-bodied wine with deep red hues.

Barbera

Pronunciation: bar-BARE-uh Grape profile: An Italian varietal originally from the Piedmont region. Wine tendencies: A full bodied wine with rich berry flavors, high natural acidity, and with deep red hues.

Black Muscat

Pronunciation: black MOOS-cah Grape profile: A cross of Schiava Grossa and Muscat of Alexandria. Wine tendencies: A full bodied wine with richly colored hues and strong aromas.

Cabernet Franc

Pronunciation: cab-air-NAY FRAHNC Grape profile: A French varietal that is the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine tendencies: A full bodied wine with rich berry flavors, and with deep red hues.

Cabernet Merlot

Pronunciation: cab-air-NAY mare-LOW Grape profile: A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, used in Bordeaux wines. Wine tendencies: A rich, full bodied wine with fruity, spicy, oaky flavors, and with deep red to red-brown hues.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Pronunciation: cab-air-NAY so-veen-YOHN Grape profile: A French varietal from the Bordeaux region. Wine tendencies: A full-bodied wine with deep-red colors. Aged for several years before drinking, it has a rich, oaky flavor.

Carmenere

Pronunciation: car-men-air Grape profile: Originally from Bordeaux, France, Carmenere was found in abundance in Chile in the 1850’s and today is used in Meritage blends. Wine tendencies: Produces wines with roundness of texture, color and character. Intense crimson color.

Dolcetto

Pronunciation: dohl-CHEH-toe Grape profile: An Italian varietal from the Piedmont region. Wine tendencies: A medium-bodied, moderately sweet, fruity wine, with red-brown hues.

Gamay Noir

Pronunciation: GAM-may NWARH Grape profile: A French varietal from the Beaujolais region. Wine tendencies: A light-bodied, fruity wine with ruby red hues.

Grenache

Pronunciation: greh-NAHSH Grape profile: A varietal grown throughout Mediterranean countries. Wine tendencies: A rich, fruity, spicy, and somewhat sweet wine with deep-red hues.

Lemberger

Pronunciation: LEM-boor-ger Grape profile: An Austrian varietal. Wine tendencies: A very aromatic wine with flavors of fresh berries, and with deep red hues.

Leon Millot

Pronunciation: lee-on mill-OH Grape profile: A French varietal at one time popular throughout Northern France and Alsace. Wine tendencies: A full bodied wine with deep hues.

Malbec

Pronunciation: MAHL-bek Grape profile: A French varietal from the Bordeaux region. Wine tendencies: A rich, full-bodied wine, with aromas of plum, blackberry, and smoke, and with deep red-brown hues.

Maréchal Foch

Pronunciation: mah-reh-shal FOHSH Grape profile: A French varietal from the Alsace region. Wine tendencies: A light, herby, fruity wine, with ruby hues.

Merlot

Pronunciation: mare-LOW Grape profile: A French varietal from the Bordeaux region. Wine tendencies: A full bodied wine, high in tannins, with fruit and cherry flavors, and with brilliant red hues.

Mourvèdre

Pronunciation: moor-VEHD-ruh Grape profile: Most likely originated in northern Spain (known there as Monastrell), dating to the 16th Century. Wine tendencies: Produces tannic, high alcohol wines. Typically blended with Mediterranean style varietals to create blends.

Nebbiolo

Pronunciation: nay-be-OH-low Grape profile: An Italian varietal from the Piedmont region. Wine tendencies: Produces a rich, fruity, full-bodied wine.

Petit Verdot

Pronunciation: puh-TEE vare-DOH Grape profile: A type of red Bordeaux grape that ripens late in the harvest season. Wine tendencies: Often blended with other wines to add tannin, structure, and flavor.

Petite Sirah

Pronunciation: puh-TEET SEE-rah Grape profile: Also known as “Durif”, a cross pollenation of the Syrah and Peloursin grapes. Wine tendencies: A dark, inky wine considerable acidity, with a firm and chewy mouth feel. Dark berries and fruit flavors.

Pinot Meunier

Pronunciation: PEE-noe MUHN-yay Grape profile: A French varietal from the Champagne region. Wine tendencies: A medium bodied, fruity wine with flavors of black currant and plum, and with rich, reddish hues.

Pinot Noir

Pronunciation: PEE-noe NWAHR Grape profile: A French varietal from the Burgundy and Champagne regions. Wine tendencies: The flagship of Oregon’s wine industry. Pinot Noir is a fruity, peppery, full-bodied wine with deep red hues.

Primitivo

Pronunciation: PRIM-uh-TEE-voh Grape profile: A clone of Zinfandel, grown throughout California, and increasingly in Oregon. Wine tendencies: Primitivo produces a rich, full-bodied red wine.

Sangiovese

Pronunciation: sahn-joe-VAY-zeh Grape profile: An Italian varietal commonly used to produce Chianti. Wine tendencies: Sangiovese produces a dry, medium-bodied wine with light, fruity flavors.

Syrah

Pronunciation: seer-RAH Grape profile: A French varietal used in Côte du Rhone, grown throughout the world. Wine tendencies: A dry wine with spicy, smoky, berry flavors and dark red hues.

Tempranillo

Pronunciation: TEM-pruh-NEE-yo Grape profile: A European varietal used to produce Rioja-style wines, also grown in Southern Oregon. Wine tendencies: A rich, full-bodied wine, with dark, ruby-red hues and with spicy, peppery, rich flavors.

Zinfandel

Pronunciation: ZIN-fahn-DELL Grape profile: Thought to be an Italian varietal, primarily grown in California. Wine tendencies: Zinfandel can produce two kinds of wine: if the skins are left on during production, a rich, full-bodied Red Zinfandel

White Wine Varietals

Albariño

Pronunciation: all-bar-EEN-yo Grape information: A variety of white wine grape grown in northwest Spain and northwest Portugal, where it is used to make varietal white wines. Wine information: it produces a soft, off-dry wine that is lightly fruity. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Aligoté

Pronunciation: ah-lee-go-TAY Grape information: A French varietal from the Burgundy region. Wine information: A moderately sweet, fruity wine with citrus and pear undertones, and with a golden hue. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Arneis

Pronunciation: are-NAYS Grape information: An Italian varietal from the Piedmont region. Wine information: A fruity, citrusy wine with a clean finish, and with pale straw hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Auxerrois

Pronunciation: OAKS-er-rwah Grape information: A French varietal from the Alsace region. Wine information: A flavorful wine with citrus and fruit aromas, and with light golden hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Chardonnay

Pronunciation: shar-doh-NAY Grape information: A French varietal from the Burgundy region. Wine information: Typically aged in oak, it is dry in flavor, with strong aromas, and has a golden hue. It is also used to produce Champagne and méthode Champenoise wines. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Chenin Blanc

Pronunciation: SHUH-nan BLANC Grape information: A French varietal from the Loire region. Wine information: A light bodied, fruity, dry wine with light green hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Early Muscat

Pronunciation: err-lee MOOS-cah Grape information: A grape bred from the crossing of Muscat Hamburg and Queen of the Vineyard. Wine information: Ripening early, full of aromas and flavors. There are two types of Muscat: crisp, dry wines Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Ehrenfelser

Pronunciation: AIR-en-fel-zer Grape information: A white wine varietal from Germany. Wine information: This varietal ripens earlier than other grapes, and tends to produce more than Riesling. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Gewürztraminer

Pronunciation: geh-VERTZ-trah-mee-nur Grape information: A German varietal from the Alsace region. Wine information: A medium-bodied wine, usually moderately sweet in flavor and with pale straw hues, although it can also range from dry apéritifs to sweet dessert wines. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Grenache Blanc

Pronunciation: gruh-NOSH BLONK Grape information: A white wine grape related to the red Grenach wine grape. Used often in southern French and Spanish wine blends. Wine information: Produces herbal and citrusy wines with relatively high alcohol and low acidity. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Grüner Veltliner

Pronunciation: GROON-er VELT-liner Grape information: An eastern European varietal that ripens in late October. Wine information: Produces pure, citrusy, fruity wines with mineral characters and which are food-friendly. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Huxelrebe

Pronunciation: HOOK-sill-ray-beh Grape information: A German varietal. Wine information: High-quality, primarily sweet wines as aperitifs or dessert wines. High acidity and aromas. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Madeleine Angevine

Pronunciation: MAH-deh-line AHN-jeh-veen Grape information: A French varietal from the Loire region. Wine information: A dry, citrusy wine with aromas of melon and pear, and with pale green hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Marsanne

Pronunciation: mar-SAWN Grape information: A Rhone varietal that ripens in the middle of harvest season, with lower sugars. Wine information: Produces a wine with rich aromatics and melon and mineral flavors. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Melon de Bourgogne

Pronunciation: MAY-lohn duh ber-GOHN-nya Grape information: A French varietal from the Loire region. An alternative name for this grape is Muscadet. Wine information: A light, fruity wine with pale yellow hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Müller Thurgau

Pronunciation: MEW-lehr TOOR-gow Grape information: A German varietal grown throughout the world. Wine information: A light-bodied, moderately sweet wine with pale straw hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Muscat

Pronunciation: MOOS-cah Grape information: A French and Italian varietal. Wine information: There are two types of Muscat: crisp, dry wines Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Muscat Canelli

Pronunciation: MOOS-cah Ca-NELL-ee Grape information: A French and Italian varietal. Wine information: There are two types of Muscat: crisp, dry wines Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Muscat of Alexandria

Pronunciation: MOOS-cah of al-ex-AND-ree-ah Grape information: A Mediterranean varietal with roots tracing to ancient Egypt. Wine information: There are two types of Muscat: crisp, dry wines Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Muscat Ottonel

Pronunciation: MOOS-cah of aw-TAW-nell Grape information: A European varietal of Muscat grape. Wine information: There are two types of Muscat: crisp, dry wines Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Pinot Blanc

Pronunciation: PEE-noe BLAHNC Grape information: A French varietal from the Alsace region. Wine information: A crisp wine with aromas of fresh pear and orange blossom, and with pale straw hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Pinot Gris

Pronunciation: PEE-noe GREE Grape information: A French varietal from the Alsace region. Wine information: A light, aromatic, wine with flavors of apple, pear, apricot, and other fruits, and with yellow to pale straw hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Riesling

Pronunciation: REES-leeng Grape information: A German varietal that produces a wide range of wines, from dry and semi-dry to sweet and dessert wines. Wine information: Light green in color and with soft flavors when young, an aged Riesling will have a darker, golden color, and in some cases, even a ‘petrol’ characteristic. Type of Grape:… View Article

Roussanne

Pronunciation: roo-SAWN Grape information: A Rhone varietal of grape that ripens with rusty brown colors. Wine information: In warmer climates, produces wines with richer flavors and aromas Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Sauvignon Blanc

Pronunciation: so-veen-YOHN BLAHNC Grape information: A French varietal from the Bordeaux and Loire regions. Wine information: A light, dry wine with fruity, grassy flavors, and light yellow hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Scheurebe

Pronunciation: shoy-ree-beh Grape information: A German and Austrian varietal. Wine information: Full-bodied, dry and citrusy wines. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Sémillon

Pronunciation: say-mee-YOHN Grape information: A French varietal from the Bordeaux region. Wine information: Often blended with Chardonnay, Semillon is a light, crisp, dry wine with light yellow hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Sylvaner

Pronunciation: sil-VAH-ner Grape information: Varietal from Alsace and Germany. Wine information: A high acid, neutral flavored wine sometimes made into dessert wines. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Vidal

Pronunciation: vee-DAHL Grape information: A Friench varietal well suited in cold climates. Wine information: A high acid, neutral flavored wine sometimes made into dessert wines. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal

Viognier

Pronunciation: vee-OHN-yay Grape information: A French varietal from the Rhone valley. Wine information: A moderately sweet, aromatic wine with golden hues. Type of Grape: White Wine Varietal