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Wines are perfect drinks for every occasion.  Whether it's a formal family dinner, gifting a bottle to your host, or a romantic date night, wines make everything better. 

However, if you ask your wine-loving significant other out on a date, getting the right wine for the occasion is crucial. From white chardonnay to red merlot, wine lovers often have a favorite varietal.

What Is a Wine Varietal?

A wine varietal is a wine made with various grapes, such as pinot noir, chardonnay, and cabernet sauvignon. Wines such as red wine, white wine, sparkling wine, and dessert wines are not varietals, but varietals exist within these categories.

In some wine-producing regions, a wine varietal has the same name as the grape it's made from. In more traditional wine regions, such as France and Italy, varietals’ names come from where winemakers produce the drink instead of the grape variety.

Five Red Wine Varietals

Red wine is made with grape skins that have been left on during fermentation. This increases the levels of tannins and gives red wine an astringent, almost bitter taste. Here is a list of popular red wine varietals:

1. Cabernet Sauvignon 

This full-bodied varietal is high in tannins and has peppery, fruity notes. Wines made with cabernet sauvignon grapes in the Bordeaux region are Bordeaux wines.

2. Merlot

Merlot wines have deep fruity flavors like blackberry, plum, and black cherry.  In warm climates like Chile, they often have a higher alcohol content.

3. Pinot Noir

This light-bodied red wine has notes of strawberry, cherry, and cranberry. Pinot noir is a versatile grape variety used to make white, rosé, and sparkling wine.

4. Malbec

This varietal is spicy and savory with hints of blackberry, plum, cloves, and pepper. Malbec grapes originated in France but are widely used in Argentina. 

5. Zinfandel

Zinfandel is both a red wine and a sweet rosé with strawberry, raspberry, cherry, and blackberry notes. White zinfandel is also produced by some winemakers. 

Five White Wine Varietals

White wine varietals are lighter and fruitier than red wines. They're fermented without grape skins, which results in low tannin levels and high acidity. Here is a list of common white varietal wines:

1. Chardonnay

With hints of pear, apple, tropical fruit, and vanilla, this full-bodied varietal is a must-try. Chardonnay is produced in many parts of the world, though its roots can be traced back to Burgundy.

2. Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer has medium acidity and a touch of sweetness, with notes of lychee, pineapple, passion fruit, and rose petals. This pink grape originated in France's Alsace region.

3. Pinot Grigio

This varietal, also known as pinot gris, is fresh and zesty. It is a crisp white wine from Burgundy with notes of pear, peach, and apricot.

4. Riesling

This white grape originated in Germany's Rhine region and is highly acidic with fruit flavors such as nectarine, apple, and pear.

5. Sauvignon Blanc

With notes of grapefruit, white peach, and passion fruit, sauvignon blanc is fresh and crisp with high levels of acidity. Because of the oak aging in the winemaking process, it is sometimes referred to as fumé blanc in California.

Romantic Rituals for Wine Lovers

Carefully swirling and sniffing wine is only one of many wine lovers' rituals. The pull of a cork, the pop of champagne, and the clinking glasses of a toast all have their own meaning. 

While many things contribute to the pleasure of drinking wine on a romantic date, the wine itself plays a significant role. So go ahead, use that special corkscrew, decant that wine, and swirl to your heart’s content.

Metro Wine is located at 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville, NC. We take pride in our high-quality wine selections, great values, and, most importantly, excellent customer service. Shop our selection of boutique wines and varietals, hand-picked by our expert staff.

Looking for something particular? Contact us to help you find the wine you are looking for. We also deliver, for those special nights in.