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Major wine grape varieties – Varietal and blended wines in Kenya

Major wine grape varieties – Varietal and blended wines in Kenya

Recognizing different types of wine and appreciating their diversity in terms of flavors, aromas, and textures, it is essential to understand the grape varieties they are made with. In general, wines are made from grapes, which influences the general characteristic of a given wine. Subtle flavors and nuances aromas are nurtured and captured from the vine to the bottle in a careful winemaking process executed by men and women with extraordinary skills.

Understanding the characteristics of different varieties of wine grapes is the first step in identifying the best wine to buy depending on your preferences. Each grape has its varietal characteristics, and they are greatly influenced by the growing conditions of various wine-growing regions. Favorable weather is essential in growing the best wine grape for making a particular wine type that will contain high-quality flavor. The final product characters are influenced by the type of grape used and region it is sourced, production method, aging, and storage process. Depending on the wine composition it can be categorized as a varietal wine or blended wine.

Varietal wine 

A varietal wine is primarily made from a single grape variety and typically displays the name of that variety on its label. It is worth noting same varietal wine from different wine region will not always taste the same, which give wine tasting a varied experience. Varietal wines are generally associated with New World wines, while Old World wines are usually labeled by region. 

Blended wines

Varietal blends are wine made by a mixture of several grape varieties. Different wine varieties are blended to give unique wine tastes and aromas. Usually, this type of wine does not display the name of the vine variety on the label.

Famous Varieties of Wine

Understanding the wine name is important as the wine itself. To make your wine buying decision easy, you need to know different types of wines. Various wines types are usually classified by, the type of grapes used in making it, or the region they are grown in. Without wine knowledge, it is hard to know what a bottle of wine contains by only reading the brand name. Your preference for wine comes first, and then the brand. By knowing more about wine names, you will be in a position to make an informed decision when ordering your favorite wine online. Let us explore some of the renowned wine grape varieties in the world and get a better understanding of the various types of wines we encounter in liquor shops.    

Red wine varieties


Cabernet Sauvignon

Pinot Noir


Red Zinfandel




Merlot- Merlot is one of the most popular red wine varieties. In America, it is the second-favorite red wine after cabernet sauvignon. Merlot is a dark blue-colored wine grape variety used to make merlot varietal wines and as a blending grape. Typically, merlot is the sweetest and most light-bodied of the red wines and can please most wine drinkers. It is low in acidity and has a sweet, soft, fruity taste profile. It is ready to drink variety that can complement virtually with almost any type of food. The dry smoothness of the wine makes it a popular choice, especially in restaurants. You can grab your favorite merlot wine brand to complement your meal by dialing wine delivery on the best online wine shop; drinks vine, or drinks zone, and we will deliver in a couple of minutes. Merlot is often mixed with cabernet to soften its acidity. These grapes are used to make high-quality Merlot wine. It is a very versatile grape, grows in various regions, and responds well to cooler climates.

Cabernet Sauvignon- Cabernet Sauvignon is a popular red wine grape in the world. It is a cross-breed between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc from France. Cabernet Sauvignon is an intensive flavored, full-bodied red wine with a rich texture, and it is the deepest and darkest of all red wines. This wine ages very well to improve its taste, often aged for 15 to 30 months in oak barrels. This aging gives this wine a toasted vanilla and cedar taste. It also features plum, black cherry, and spice elements. It is considered by some to be one of the best red wine varieties in the world and the best red drinkers’ wine of choice. Some of the most popular Cabernet Sauvignon blends hail from France, California, Australia, and Chile.

Syrah / Shiraz - Shiraz is a widely grown dark-skinned grape variety, used as a single varietal or as a blended wine. This type of wine is pronounced with the two words; Syrah in European and Shiraz in Californian or Australians. The Syrah wines' style and flavor profile are greatly influenced by the region and climate of where grapes are grown. However, some Syrah wine characteristics remain the same regardless of the regional climate differences. In moderate climate regions such as the northern Rhone Valley in France, particularly Hermitage and Cote-Rotie region, Syrah wine produced tends to be medium to full-bodied. These wines have high levels of tannins with blackberry notes, mint, and distinct black pepper taste. This wine is generally reserved for those who like wine with a stronger texture and taste. Syrah wines produced in hot climatic regions mostly in Australia, tend to be consistently full-bodied. These wines have softer tannin, fruity aroma, chocolate hints, with licorice and anise spice notes. The Syrah acidity and tannin levels allow Syrah wines produced in different regions to have favorable aging potential. Shiraz wine is best served with spicy foods and beef. Whatever the name, Syrah or Shiraz, this wine has something for everyone regardless of the region they come from. 

Pinot Noir- Pinot Noir is a light to medium-bodied wine and is rarely blended with other grape varieties. Pinot noir grapes are mostly grown in cooler climates, and though it is grown around the world, it is mostly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Apart from making red wine, Pinot noir makes excellent Champagne and other types of sparkling wines. Pinot noir wines are a great choice for any wine drinkers as they don’t punch in the face like some red wines. These wines are silky on the tongue, fruity, and light in tannins, making them easy to drink. It also displays taste elements of raisin, black cherry, raspberry, and strawberry. It has an underlying earthiness that makes it a little more compelling and a great complement to various varieties of food. Pair it with barbecue, salmon, sushi, and creamy sauces, and it won’t disappoint.

Red Zinfandel- This is a black-skinned grape variety popularly grown in California. In Italy, Zinfandel is called 'Primitivo' to describe its tendency to ripen earlier than other grapes. It usually produces bold and robust red wines. In America, much of Zinfandel grape is used in making the sweet zinfandel white wine mostly semi-sweet rosé (blush-style). The taste and flavors of Zinfandel wines are influenced by the ripeness of the grapes used and the climatic condition of the growing area. In cool areas, it exhibits red berry fruit flavors. In warm regions, blackberry, pepper, and anise notes are dominant. This grape variety has high sugar content, and when fermented, it can produce an alcohol level exceeding fifteen percent. This wine is very versatile since the grapes used to make it are highly adaptable to the producer's manipulation. The red wine version of Zinfandel is one of the strongest and heaviest wines in the market. This wine is often recommended for those who have been drinking red wines for a while. Generally, Zinfandel wines are characterized by berry, cherry, pepper, plum, and licorice flavors with candied fruitiness spices.

Pinotage - Pinotage is South Africa's signature of red wine grape variety. This wine grape was delivered from a cross-breed of Pinot Noir (Pino) and Cinsaut, which was known as "Hermitage" in South Africa (tage) hence the name Pinotage. Pinotage varietal wines are usually deep red, dry, full-bodied, low in acid, and high in tannins. It exhibits flavors and aroma of fruits, strawberry, cherry, black plum, bananas, tropical fruits notes, and smoky spices. You can enjoy the Pinotage wine on its own or pair it with flavorful beef dishes.

Malbec - This is a thin-skinned purple grape variety, mostly grown in Argentina, but has its origin in French. Malbec wine is full-bodied red wine, famous for its, inky dark color, spicy, robust tannins, and savory flavors of plum, blackberry, and black cherry with a smoky finish. Malbec grape is one of the six grapes accepted in the blend of creating red Bordeaux wine. Malbec pairs well with flavored and spicier foods and leaner red meat. Though Malbec wine is not popular as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines, it is another crowd-pleaser and great wine at its' price. It is a perfect option for people who love strong flavored and intense wine with a firm structure.

Sangiovese - Sangiovese is Italian vino and Italy’s most planted red wine grape variety. Outside Italy, it is the main variety used in the blending of Chianti, as well as Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino. Somehow Sangiovese grape is like a chameleon since it easily alters its genetics to fit the region it is grown, making Sangiovese wines vary significantly in taste. It takes on the characteristics of the region it is produced in and those imparted by the winemaker. Sangiovese wine is not aromatic like other red wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinot noir. Regardless of where it is grown, Sangiovese wine exhibits the flavor profile of fresh fruits of strawberry, cherry, and red plum along with some herbs spices with subtle notes of tomato. It has a medium-plus tannic structure and high acidity on the palate. This wine is perfect with food especially, tomato-based dishes like pizza and pasta. Sangiovese wines have something for everyone.

White Wines varieties


Sauvignon Blanc



Chenin Blanc

Pinot Blanc


Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio



White Zinfandel

Chardonnay - This is one of the most popular white wine grape varieties. It is usually regarded as the king of white wines. Chardonnay originated from France, the Burgundy region. Today it is grown in almost all the regions where white wine grapes are grown. It is a neutral, green-skinned grape, and Chardonnay wines are generally known to be relatively dry and medium-bodied with fresh and crisp flavors. The growing region's climatic conditions, fruit ripeness, and the aging process, greatly influences the specific wine tastes and aromas. Buy Chardonnay wine online and enjoy the best Chardonnay wine prices and fast wine delivery services in Nairobi and its environs.

Sauvignon Blanc - Sauvignon Blanc originated from France, the Bordeaux region. These grapes are today widely grown in other wine-growing regions. Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape and is best known as the most aromatic wine with fragrances of grass, which is crisp, elegant, dry, and refreshing white wine. Depending on the climate there are grown, Sauvignon Blanc gives flavors ranging from grassy to sweetly tropical and aromas of floral and fruit. These wines have a bitter aftertaste, and the taste can have hints of melon, gooseberry, and black currant. These wines are usually consumed young as aging has very little effect on them. Sauvignon Blanc is blended with Semillon grapes, to produce some of the classy and expensive wine brands in Kenya. 

Riesling - Riesling is among the top white grape varieties worldwide. It has its origin in Germany, the Rhine region. Riesling is highly terroir-expressive, that is, its characteristic depends greatly on where it is grown. It is known to be an aromatic wine that displays a flowery, apple-like aroma. It is a low-alcohol, fruity, and highly balanced acidity wine with floral or tropical fruit notes of apricot, pear, and apple. This makes it a popular sweet white wine and is used to make sparkling wines. Riesling is usually regarded as the finest best white grape in the world due to the longevity of its wines. Riesling wines are more adaptable to many types of food, including spicy choices. It is best served with pork. Riesling can age in the bottle; in fact, it tastes better as it ages. Riesling is rarely blended with other grapes.

Gewurztraminer - Gewurztraminer is a very aromatic grape variety with pink to red skin color. It is mostly grown in Germany and the Alsace region of France, though it is also found in Austria, Italy, and Eastern Europe. Gewurztraminer is a highly floral wine with moderate alcohol and an easy-to-drink white wine which have fruity flavors with aromas of rose petals, peach, passion fruit, lychee, and is a sweet aftertaste. Gewurztraminer is best served during barbeque (BBQs). It usually tastes like grapefruit and is a perfect pair for spicy foods.

Chenin Blanc - Chenin Blanc white wine variety originated from France, Loire Valley. Currently, South Africa is the top cultivator of this grape, where it is known as 'Steen'. Chenin Blanc grapes are very versatile, and they can be used to produce a great variety of wines depending on where they are grown, how they are aged and how they are processed. It can be used to make the best dry white wine and off-dry white wines, sparkling wines, and well-balanced dessert wines. Wines made from Chenin Blanc usually are high in acidity, display a deep gold coloring, and exhibits flavors and aromas of honey, fruit, grasses, and quince.

Pinot Blanc / Pinot Bianco - Pinot Blanc is a white wine grape variety and is often compared to Chardonnay because of its striking similarity. Its traditional home is the northeast of France, in the Alsace wine-growing region, and is also grown in Italy, parts of Germany, and Austria. It shares a genetic mutation of Pinot noir and Pinot Gris. Pinot Blanc produces medium to full-bodied wines that are semi-dry, refreshing, and peachy with almond and apple aromas, along with hints of spice. Pinot Blanc wine palate and flavors depend on the type of white wine and where it is made from ranging from nutty flavor to sweet taste.

Muscat - The Muscat family of grapes includes over 200 different grape varieties and it is one of the oldest and most widespread varieties in the world. Muscat is believed to have originated in the Middle East and it has been used for centuries in wine production, as raisin, and as table grapes. The most sort Muscat grapes are: Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Muscat of Alexandria, Moscato Giallo, Muscat Hamburg and Muscat Ottonel. Muscat is used to making medium sweet white wines, dry wine, sparkling wine, and dessert wine. Wines produced from these grapes are distinct from the wider Muscat family. These wines range in color from white, yellow, pink to almost black. Muscat wines are generally young as they are not aged for long, except for the fortified wines. They have low acidity and exhibits a grapey taste and sweet floral aroma.

Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio - Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio is a white wine grape variety thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot noir (a red grape varietal) and is one of the most popular grapes for skin-contact wine. Pinot Gris is more colorful than other white wines and ranks at the top of the popular white wines in Italy. Pinot Gris usually has a greyish-blue fruit, accounting for its name, (Gris meaning "grey" in French). However, these grapes have a brownish pink, black and white appearance. The wines made from this grape vary in color ranging from deep golden yellow, pale to a light shade of pink. The wines from the Pinot Gris varietal are soft and delicately perfumed with melon, pear peaches, and apricot flavors. On the nose, it has citrus aromas with a smooth silky texture. The finish is lingering. This makes an excellent wine with white meats, cheese, and seafood. Serve this wine when chilled. It makes a classy wine gift for a loved one and a good cooking wine.

Semillon - Semillon is mainly grown in the Bordeaux region of France, although it is grown in other parts of the world including; Australia, Argentina, Chile, and California. It is a golden-skinned grape and it makes Australia‘s popular dry white wines and France's most famous sweet white wines. Semillon grape has declined in its popularity due to a lack of complexity and intensity. Although Semillon can produce good wines on its own, it is more commonly blended with Sauvignon Blanc to give it a definite aroma while it makes up for sauvignon's lack of body. Its thick skin, with low acidity and silky texture, makes it dominant in the production of sweet wines. Semillon wine has fruity aromas and flavors of apricot, peach, nectarine, mango, and notes of citrus, nut, and honey.

Viognier -Viognier is a white wine grape variety with its origin in France, Rhone Valley and it is grown in other parts of the world including; North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Israel. Viognier is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhône Valley; elsewhere, it is blended with other grapes. It produces medium to full body white wines with floral, soft, and ripe-fruited characteristics along with natural aromatics notes of peach, pears, and violets that make these wines so distinctive. To add a rich taste, it can be aged in oak.

Regardless of the wine you choose to order online, it is important to know each wine has its uniqueness. Let what your serve with the wine be the key factor in determining what type of wine is best to order on drinks delivery for the occasion. Drinks zone has a wide variety of wines which we are offering at pocket-friendly prices. Give us a call to place your order and enjoy our fast and efficient wine delivery services in Nairobi.