The 18 Noble Grapes

I hope you have dabbled in a few different kinds of wines, expanded your palate and hopefully found something you like.

If you haven’t quite found what you enjoy yet, I suggest you start with the 18 Noble Grapes to get the full range of flavours wine has to offer. After you find what you enjoy drinking, work your way from there!

Noble grapes are also known as International Varieties, which are grape varieties that are widely planted in most of the major wine producing regions and have widespread appeal.


These are organized from lightest to richest

Aka easiest to drink to more flavourful

Pinot Grigio– Light and zesty, high acidity

Reisling– Dry to sweet with scents of lime, honey and apricots, and high acidity

Sauvignon Blanc-Green and herby

Chenin Blanc– zesty notes of floral and citrus

Moscato– Sweet wines, usually taste like peaches and oranges.

Gewurztraminer-Off-dry to sweet, taste of ginger and honey

Sémillon– Dry medium bodied wines with lemon notes

Viognier– Florally, medium bodied

Chardonnay– Full bodied and dry



Organized from lightest to darkest

Pinot Noir– The gateway red, and the easiest to drink

Grenache– Fruity and light, often sweet

Merlot– smooth tannins but unpredictable. Can be light or bold, but generally fruit forward.

Sangiovese– More tannic than Pinot Noir, and has bold cherry flavours

Nebbiolo– A savory high tannin/acidic wine that is also very light in colour

Tempranillo– Tempranillo is earthy with rustic tobacco notes and high tannin.

Cabernet Sauvignon– The King of the Red’s, savory with a long finish

Syrah/Shiraz– Bold, dark fruit and lighter tannin.

This has nothing to do with the 18 noble grapes, but it’s a fun activity to try.


My cousins and sister had a  wine tasting at the cabin. We bought 3 different types of wine from the same brand. We asked her husband to tape over the names and guessed which wine is which. We went into the tasting thinking that we all wouldn’t like the Merlot, but we all guessed incorrectly. AND I disliked the Shiraz, usually my favourite!


Fellow label shoppers, read me.

I am currently procrastinating finishing my PR assignment with another PR assignment.

I am still learning things so it’s OK, right?

Even with the knowledge I have acquired through my blogging, I still like to wander around the wine aisles and search for a label that looks interesting. At least now I have a vague idea of what I am looking at. I have sampled enough wine in my day to know what I am probably going to enjoy, and not enjoy.

Here is a guide to understanding the wine label and hopefully not picking your bottle based on the pretty picture alone:

(and with that use of a colon I faintly hear James Turner have a heart attack somewhere in Winnipeg)

Wine labels include:

  • The grape from which the wine was made
  • Brand name- Producer- Company or person that made the wine
  • Sometimes a whimsical name for that wine (Proprietary name)
  • And the place(s) the grapes were grown – region or specific vineyard
  • Vintage year- aka the year the grapes for the wine grew

A fellow blogger posted a great example I am going to share with you.


Here is one that looks a little more complicated:



This one is for the botanists



This is a French word that actually doesn’t have an English translation. It also has no fixed definition; it is more of a concept.

Terre- means soil.

Some people end up defining terroir as dirt. Not exactly how I would explain it, but to each their own.

This word is important in the wine world because it describes where the grapes grow, and why they taste differently from different regions.

Napa Carneros

Grapes from here ^(Napa)

I love you Tuscany

taste differently than grapes grown from here ^(Italy)

Terroir is a combination of topsoil, subsoil, sun, rain, wind, drainage, the slope of a hill, and altitude that a specific vineyard has. No two vineyards are the same, this is why a Merlot from Argentina tastes different than a Merlot from California.

This is another reason why it makes sense for Europeans to give their wines place names. Terroir will give the drinker a more specific idea of how their wine will taste before they open the bottle.

Not the most exciting wine fact to know, but as you delve into the wine world, this will be something that comes up a lot. Look like a pro with your new vocabulary, or maybe you will win a trivia night with this piece of information.

Speaking of trivia nights…

This Wednesday come down to the King’s Head Pub to win some cash and have a few beverages. Grab a team of five, test your knowledge and maybe even outsmart your peers and instructors 😉

Don’t waste your wine

Can’t finish the bottle?

Don’t abandon it! Store it properly for later.Oxygen is not a friend to wine. It will turn your sweet nectar into vinegar.

I like to think of red wine like a vampire. Red wine and blood look the same, so this is easy to remember. Vampires (and wine) like to be in dark, cool, dry places. This will keep your wine fresh.

The fridge can even help preserve your reds; it will slow the oxidation down.

Store the wine upright to minimize surface area #science

Don’t do drastic temperature changes. But when it is time for you to drink your red, you can warm it up in luke warm water without spoiling it.

Pinot Noir, old wine (8-10 years), organic wine, sulfite-free wine all go bad very quickly.

You can purchase wine preservers that suck the air out of the bottle. This will help keep your wine fresh. To save a few dollars on the wine preserver, you could also just finish the bottle.

Sparkling wine

Sometimes people enjoy day-old Champagne to freshly popped bubbly. This gives the bubbles a chance to settle and the flavour becomes rounded out.

Something to check out­– maybe on a cheap bottle.


My Glass is Half Full

Sometimes I find I don’t know what to do with my hands when reaching for a glass for my wine. Each wine glass has something special to offer to your senses.

Glasses specifically designed for different wine types help you fully experience the wine.

Wine glasses are shaped to capture the right amount of aromas and direct wine to the part of your mouth where the flavor will be the most fulfilling.

Again, you do whatever you want. There are no wrong answers here. I always prefer to go with tumblers (stemless glasses) because I am known to be clumsy.

Typically, red wine glasses have a larger opening bowl for full-bodied aromas. The more you can fit your face into the glass, the better. Sweet and crisp white wines are also better in a glass with a large opening so your sweet liquid will direct itself to the area of the tongue that detects sweetness.

White wine glasses are generally more U shaped. This way the temperature can stay cooler for longer and the aromas are released. When you are drinking white, you should hold the glass by the stem so you don’t warm your wine.

Sparkling wine glasses use a flute to hold the carbonation and keep the flavour.

Dessert wines are served in small wine glasses. The intention is that the wine will hit the back of the mouth so the drinker isn’t overwhelmed by the extreme sweetness or the higher alcohol content.

Tips on glassware:

The thinner the rim the better

(Bad news for me, these are way less durable)

I could go much deeper into this, but these three are the most common types of glass. The staples to have on hand are: stemless with a large opening, a U shaped classic glass with a stem, and flutes for the sparkling wines and Champagnes. Unless you are a sommelier, you wont notice a difference between.

Shout out to Peter from Red Top!



(If you haven’t been there then you are seriously missing out)

After incessant teasing about his wine glasses for ants, he finally has invested in larger glasses. Go try them, oh yeah and the food.