What Makes a Grape Noble?

There are many different wine grapes around the world. We don’t even know for sure exactly how many. Most estimates place the number at more than 10,000 wine grape varieties but fortunately you don’t need to know them all.

Out of these thousands of grape varieties, a handful have been granted the legendary status of ‘noble grape’ and even experts can’t quite agree on which grapes should be included in this coveted shortlist of noble grapes. Even the size of the shortlist isn’t agreed upon, ranging from just three red grapes and three whites up to as many as eighteen.

These noble grapes are also known as ‘International Varieties’ as they have widespread appeal and are widely planted in most of the major wine-growing regions.

Noble grapes have three common characteristics:

  • they enjoy international acclaim,
  • they consistently produce high-quality wines and
  • they thrive in practically all wine regions.

The original red noble grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Understanding them is important as they will be present in many of the world’s principal wine regions and appellations.

There’s no law that dictates that the noble grapes have to be everyone’s personal favourite. These are simply the best known and most frequently enjoyed red grape varieties. Taste more unusual, indigenous varieties too!