The Most Popular Grape Varieties

red wine grapes

Updated July 19th 2023

The most grape varieties in the world include well-known classic names like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but also names that most people never heard of. In this guide you will find a list of the the 5 most popular grape varieties.

There are more than 10 000 types of wine grapes in the world. Some of them are more popular than others. A grape's popularity depends on many different factors, such as how easy it is to grow, and how consumers like the profile of the grape. The most popular wine types are usually single grape varietal wines because most consumers find it easier to recognize the different types of wine.

#1: Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular grape variety in the world. It has its origin in Bordeaux in southwestern France, but is planted all over the world. This delicious grape gives rich full-bodied red wines with high tannins and good acidity. Its typical aroma of blackcurrant makes this grape a perfect match with grilled meats and other flavourful dishes. Cabernet Sauvignon makes some of the most popular types of red wine, both single varietal and blends. Some wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon are extremely expensive, but there are also many affordable alternatives. It is a very popular grape in American wine. The American wine brand Barefoot wine, one of the most popular wine brands in the World, makes an affordable Cabernet Sauvignon wine. 

#2: Merlot

Merlot is another red grape variety which comes from Bordeaux in France. Together with Cabernet Sauvignon, these are the main grape varieties in the famous Bordeaux blend, and it is also popular to use Merlot in blends with many other grape varieties. Merlot is a popular red wine and many top rated wines contain this grape variety. Merlot wine is know to give medium to full-bodied red wines with a velvety texture and flavours of cherry and plum. Merlot is great match with a wide variety of foods, such as pork and other meat dishes. 

#3: Airén

Airén is the most surprising grape variety on this list. It is the most planted white grape in the world, but most people have never heard of it. That is because this grape is almost always used in blends. It is mostly planted in Spain and 30% of its production is used to produce Brandy. Airén has high sugar levels and is usually blended with Verdejo, Viura or Sauvignon Blanc to make the wine more balanced. 

#4: Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a dark grape from Spain that produces popular red wines. Some of the best Spanish red wines, from the Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions, are made with Tempranillo. It is also widely planted in Portugal, but under the name Tinta Roriz or Aragonez. Tempranillo gives medium to full-bodied red wines with fruity and herbaceous flavours of cherries, plum and leather. The grape pairs well with lamb, steak and tomato-based dishes. It is also used to make rosé wines and some types of sweet wines. Tinta Roriz is one of the grape varieties used in the famous Port wine from Portugal.

#5: Chardonnay

Many people consider Chardonnay the most popular white grape variety in the world, even if Airén is the most planted white grape. Chardonnay originally comes from Burgundy in France, but is now planted all over the world. The grape produces different types of white wines and there is a style of Chardonnay for every taste. Chardonnay is even known to be the best wine for people who don't like wine. It is one of the three grape varieties in the Champagne blend. When aged in oak Chardonnay gives rich full-bodied white wines, but without oak aging it gives fresh and light-bodied wines like Chablis.

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