a prolific Italian variety that produces medium-bodied, fruity wines with crisp berry flavors.
Try Barbera with smoked salmon, pizza with prosciutto or salami, and bruschetta with tomatoes and garlic.
one of the five red Bordeaux varietals, the herbaceous, red fruit, and slightly earthy style of this wine makes it an easy blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Try Cabernet Franc with a classic beef stew, aged Gouda, and rosemary-rubbed pork tenderloin
considered the noblest of Bordeaux grapes (and also the bestselling California varietal), Cabernet Sauvignon produces rich, complex wines reminiscent of dark fruit, cedar, and sometimes chocolate.
Try Cabernet Sauvignon with a juicy steak or grilled mushrooms.
Rich and warm, this Rhone varietal is the star of the famed Chateauneuf-de-Pape wines of the Southern France. It’s the second most planted grape in the world and produces medium-bodied wines a wide range of fruit flavors, red raspberry to dark blackberry.
Try Grenache with any grilled shellfish as well as salami, sliced ham and other charcuterie.
this deep red grape provides color and tannin to the wine it produces and offers flavors of plum, blackberry and pepper. One of the five red Bordeaux varietals, it’s often found in California’s Meritage blends, but is stellar on its own.
Try Malbec with classic rack of lamb and roasted root vegetables.
this grape is luscious, with a velvet quality and fruity aromas. When blended with its other Bordeaux varietals, it can lend a softer quality to wines that would otherwise be hard and austere. Popular for its approachability, Merlot in the right California conditions can be as big and bold as a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Try Merlot with sautéed duck breasts or roasted pork tenderloin.
one of the Rhone varietals, this warm climate grape has backbone, intense fruit and earthiness that make it a versatile food pairing wine.
Try Mourvèdre with roast duck or chicken, a tangy blue cheese, or pate.
Full-bodied and dry, this varietal has bold, ripe, dark-fruit flavors that make it a traditional blending grape that can also stand beautifully on its own. Originally from France, created by a cross between Syrah and the ancient grape Peloursin, Petite Sirah seems to thrive best in California.
Try Petite Sirah with sweet barbequed chicken, a cold roast beef sandwich with mustard, or mild blue cheeses.
The fifth blending grape of the red Bordeaux varietals, Petit Verdot is full-bodied, dry, and inky in the glass. Blueberry and violet flavors are characteristic of this varietal.
Try Petite Verdot with balsamic glazed pork loin and grilled flank steak.
this varietal is considered one of the world’s most elegant best known for producing fantastic Champagne and sparkling wine and reds from Burgundy. It’s a finicky grape that grows best in a cooler climate, especially California’s coastal regions. Medium-bodied and subtle, strawberry and cherry with hints of earth and leather are typical in this silky, delicate wine.
Try Pinot Noir with wood-smoked bacon, veal, grilled salmon , and wild mushrooms.
Italian varietal best known for producing Chianti’s and Brunello’s. In California, Sangiovese can be fruit forward with cherry and raspberry and a subtle spice and herbal notes.
Try Sangiovese with pork salami and sausages and pastas with tomato sauce.
Another big Rhone varietal, this grape (known as Shiraz in Australia), produces bold, dark wines with concentrated fruit. Hints of black pepper are characteristic of this smooth but rich wine.
Try Syrah with robust, hearty foods—like ribs and roasted meat and game.
A Spanish varietal most commonly found in Rioja, has had great success in California climate. Red fruit and earth make this medium-bodied wine quite versatile and delightfully complex.
Try Tempranillo with dill-poached salmon, pork tenderloin with cilantro pesto, or steamed mussels.
a classic American grape that produces bold, fruit forward wine. Depending on the region and the winemaker, Zins can range from jammy, concentrated dark fruit, to a more balanced red fruit with peppery spice. Zinfandel is related to the Primitivo grape of Southern Italy.
Try Zinfandel with barbecue and burgers.
some of California’s most popular wines are combinations of several grapes, blended to give balance and complexity to the wine. Some blends are traditional, like a Meritage that mirrors the Bordeaux wines of France or Rhone blends that feature the winning combination of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. But other winemakers take a more maverick approach creating blends from Zinfandel, Cabernet and Syrah, creating something new that is distinctly California.
Try a California red blend with pulled pork tacos, barbecued chicken wings, or slow-cooked short ribs.