SYRAH - the Syrah grape (Shiraz), has always been grown in the Languedoc. Its complex tannins give the wine a concentrated structure, a deep colour and finess. When mature, it suggests game and mushrooms.
MOUVÈDRE - from the Catalan region, giving a peppery/spicey flavour. Gives structured, deeply coloured, robust wine with good acidity. Mainly used with other varieties, this wine is better when aged.
CINSAULT - an ancient grape giving fruity soft wines. Lighter in colour than most, used mainly for rosé wines.
GRENACHE - this variety is the main red grape of the south, although a comparative newcomer. It gives good fruit and alcohol, and is low in acidity. Light in colour and used for many blends.
CARIGNAN - ideally suited to the poor schist soils. Dark and alcoholic, usually vinified by maceration carbonique to maximise flavours. Generally blended with other varieties.
MERLOT - a red wine grape used also for blending. Medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. Soft and fruity, a popular grape to blend with Cabernet Sauvignon.
CABERNET SAUVIGNON - one of the world's most widely recognised red wine grape varieties. Often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Vines are hardy and consistant in flavour and structure which express the typical character of the variety.
CABERNET FRANC - a major red grape variety worldwide. Principally used for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon making a bright pale red with finess. A peppery perfume.
MARSANNE - this variety is often blended with Roussanne. Some acidity and a good bouquet. The vine is vigorous and fertile.
MUSCAT - this variety grows well on chalky soil and is found in the vins doux naturels of the Languedoc Roussilon.
TERRET - is mainly grown in mid-Languedoc, making crisp, dry wines.
VERMENTINO - an aromatic white wine grape, popularly grown in Italy, although becoming increasingly popular in the Languedoc. Aromatic with a good body and acidity.
VIOGNIER - currently very fashionable in the Languedoc although not yet permitted in the AOC area, The wines are aromatic and complex with peachy tones.
SAUVIGNON BLANC - a green-skinned grape variety from the Bordeaux region of France. Now grown in many of the world's wine revions. The flavour can range from agressively grassy to sweetly tropical. Crisp, elegant and fresh going well with fish and cheesse. One of the few wines that goes with suschi.
CHARDONNAY - a green-skinned grape used to make white wine. Originally from the Burgundy region, it is now grown worldwide and is one of the most widely-planted grape varieties. The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the associated flavours beoing derived from terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles.
CLAIRETTE - this variety used to be the main white grape of the region. Produces alcoholic wines, sweet and dry, with apple aromas. Early drinking required.
PICPOUL/PIQUEPOUL - grown mainly in the Rhone valley and the Languedoc regions. Both dark-skinned (piquepoul noir) and light-skinned (piquepoul blanc) varieties as well as a little Piquepoul Gris. Piquepoul Blanc has high acidity and is a green-gold colour, full bodied with lemon flavours. Both noir and blanc can be used in Châteauneuf du Pape.
MAUZAC - the mainstay of the sparkling wines of Limoux - this variety is instantly recognisable by its aroma of apples and pears. Often blended with Chenin and Chardonnay.
GRENACHE BLANC - very similar to GRENACHE NOIR, this variety can give sweet or dry wine, soft and full but high in acidity and alcohol.
MACCABEU - the most widely cultivated grape in Spain is also grown in Southern France and is the sole variety used in Cotes de Roussillon blanc. Light, high in acidity, floral and fruity tones.
ROUSSANNE - this variety is native to the Rhône valley. Producing fine complex wines with good acidity and strength. Keeps well.