[MUSIC] Today's lesson introduces wine varietals and classifications, let's get started. Grapes are classified by many sources and by many criteria, using such terms as noble or classic or traditional. Some people classify them as the international varietals versus the regional varietals. So first of all, backing up, what is a varietal? A varietal just refers to the specific name of the grape. All the grapes we're dealing with in these lectures are of the genus and species Vitis vinifera, which are otherwise known as the European wine grapes because most of them originated in Europe, or in Eastern Europe, or perhaps in the Middle East. And then were subsequently transported around the globe by early explorers or people who went off and colonized or, in the modern era, by people who simply wanted to grow grapes else where in the world that were famous in the Old World. Those grapes then become what we call the international grapes, the ones that immigrated from other places. And you could probably name what those are, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot noir, and so forth. So those are traditional grapes that have become international grapes. Some grapes that are less planted around the world but more famous in a certain locale, are known as regional grapes. Grapes which are quite famous in Northern Italy, or in Northwestern Spain, or in Argentina, but don't have much in the way of export, at least at this point in time. If you look at the world of wine as a whole, most producers are naming their wines after the predominant varietal grape that's involved in the bottle. For example, Cabernet or Pinot noir or Merlot or Riesling or Sauvignon blanc. In some Old World places, and specifically France I'm thinking of, grapes are not mentioned on wine labels. Rather, the regions or the specific regions where they're grown are mentioned instead. So, for example, if I say Bordeaux and it's a red wine, you have to do the extra research to know what red grapes are grown in Bordeaux. If I say Châteauneuf-du-Pape, you have to research what grapes are used in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If it's a red wine, there are certain ones specified, if it's a white wine, certain grapes are specified. And so you have to go the extra step because the idea is to state the name of the place that's giving the varieties used, the Vitis vinifera grapes used, they're special flavors that come from just that place. So the noble, or classic grapes, are those traditionally used for centuries in the Old World. They have since been planted around the world, and our knowledge of how to work with them is supported by the historic, Old World wine-making tradition that they follow. They have become known as the top, quote unquote, International Varietals. In developing the study list for which wines we should study, I did an exhaustive search of numerous, numerous literature sources. Some people say there are just a handful of important reds and whites, others say, no, there's a dozen or so. Actually, if you look at the world of grapes, there are [LAUGH] 4,000 or 5,000, depending on your source that are used for making wine in the world. If you whittle that down to which ones are commercially important and which ones are commercially viable, there are maybe 150 or 200 that are commercially viable. And if you whittle that list down to classic grapes, then there are probably a dozen reds and a dozen whites. So, I've developed a list of about six or so famous, classic noble whites and famous, classic noble reds. We'll look more closely at these varietals, at their flavor profiles, their Old World ancestral homes, their growing requirements or growing conditions. And, of course, there are many others that we could consider, but these are the ones I feel are important. After we've gone through these key white and red grape and wine varieties, I'll give you a list of a couple of more whites and a couple of more reds so that we can send you out into wine world and give you a chance to choose and purchase a white wine and a red wine and come home and develop a profile as a little personal assignment. Another way to categorize white and red grapes and wines found in the world is to look at their degree of expressiveness. Some wines, from certain grapes, have more recognizable flavor profiles than others. We have what we call neutral or low distinctiveness varieties, not very expressive, but making delicious, palate cleansing, thirst quenching wines. We have others that are moderately expressive and reasonably easy to differentiate, and we have still others which are considered distinctive. In other words, having easily recognizable flavor components that, almost no matter where they are grown in the world, they can be easily distinguished by assess tasters. Where these particular varietals are used in multi varietal blends, and we'll talk about that with a few of them. The resulting wine can show highlights from each of the participating varietals. For instance, if I were to mix Cabernet and Merlot together. I can often pick out aromatic highlights that were contributed by that Cabernet and, separately, that were contributed by that Merlot. This can be confusing to the nose, but it's also a very dynamic delicious way to make wines. Very often a specific varietal, grown in a specific place may not be giving us all that we want out of a well-balanced, complete, flavorful wine. And it asks for blending help, it needs blending help. So we find one or two or three other compatible varieties that we can blend together, and the resulting wine is often delicious. It's seamless, and the resulting sum is greater than the individual wines themselves could ever have been. In some parts of the world, in fact, blending is the norm rather than the exception. So, just to give you a preview, I'm going to be talking about a series of six white wines and six red wines. The six white wines that we'll consider are going to be Chardonnay Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot gris or Pinot grigio. The reds that we'll go ahead and detail are Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot noir, Syrah, Grenache and Sangiovese. There are a few more that I could've added to either of those lists, but perhaps we'll leave those for your special assignment at the end. That wraps up our introduction to grape varietals. In our next lesson, we'll spend a little time discussing Bordeaux reds and whites.