Video:What Is a Varietal?with Kevin Willenborg
Varietal is an important term for describing wine during tastings. Watch this video from About.com to boost your wine vocabulary and learn about varietals.See Transcript
Transcript:What Is a Varietal?
Hi I'm Kevin Willenborg, winemaker for Vina Robles Winery in Paso Robles, California, here on behalf of About.com to answer the question, what is a varietal?
Definition of Varietal
The term varietal is used to describe a wine made from a distinct grape variety and is usually indicated on a wine label. For example, if you're drinking a wine with Cabernet Sauvignon printed on the label it means that the wine was made either entirely or mostly from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape variety. This is a contrast to blended wines that are made from more than one variety. For example, Vina Robles produces a wine called Red 4, which is a wine blended from four different grape varieties, Petite Sirah, Sirah, Mourvedre, and Grenache.
Standards for Varietals
In the U.S. wines that are bottled and labeled as a varietal must contain at least 75 percent of the wine from that grape variety. Winemakers for years have known the many differences that grape varieties can express in the finished wine, and in the late 1900s in the U.S. there's been a push towards bottling and labeling more wines as varietals. Petite Sirah, for example, can make for a very intense colored red wine with lots of structure and tannin, while Pinot Noir typically expresses lower color and tannin, but with a unique aromatic spice and elegance. Labeling the wines as varietals allows for the consumer to better understand what he or she might be getting in the bottle and how to identify and understand their own personal preferences.
Additional Tips on Varietals
Note though, that the same varietal wine may taste different from one producer to the next due to region, grape growing practices, and winemaking practices. So try a few producers to help decide on your preferences. Also, a varietal is not necessarily better or worse than a blended wine. Again find what wine matches your own taste. A common misuse of the term varietal is when describing the grape variety instead of the wine. In short, if you're talking the grape, it's variety. If you're talking about the wine, it's varietal.
And those are the essentials about varietals. Thanks for watching. To learn more, visit us on the web at About.com.