So, What’s A Varietal?
When we discuss wine, we talk about its grape variety– like Chardonnay, Zinfandel, or Malbec. These are the actual types of grapes that are being used to create the wine and are therefore the kind of wine that they will become. A varietal wine is one that is made of 75% of any of these grapes.
Confused yet? Let’s break it down further.
Although there are thousands upon thousands of different wines in this world, they’re based on a large variety of grapes. You can have a French Chardonnay or an Australian Chardonnay -its variety is still a Chardonnay, it’s just grown in different regions.
So a varietal is a wine that is made of one dominant grape, and are aptly labeled so. These typically come from New World countries while Old World countries tend to label by the region in which they were created.
When you go to the store and you’re looking for a Merlot, you’re looking for the bottles that actually say “Merlot” on them, right? That’s because you’re looking for the varietal, and you want a bottle that is at least 75% Merlot grapes.
If you’re looking for something a bit more unique or funky, you may be looking for a blend, in which case it will have multiple grape names on it. Many French and Spanish wines are actually labeled by the region that they’re grown in, whereas the more recently popular wine countries (the United States, Australia, and Chile) tend to go by varietal.
Basically, it all just comes down to a labeling system so you know what you’re drinking, and so you know how to go find it again.