The main wine grape varieties in France

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Although there are over 200 authorised French grape varieties, 16 main ones are classified according to their origin. Maison Calvet reveals the different grape varieties found in France, their origins and their characteristics. Iconic grape names from red to white to pink, which will delight all wine experts and enthusiasts alike.


Chardonnay, the ultimate white grape, comes from the vineyards of Burgundy, but is now found in most of France’s wine-producing regions. Very popular in France and around the world, it offers a wide variety of aromas that allow it to produce different styles of white wines, as well as crémants.

Serving temperature: between 11°C and 14°C

Pinot Noir

Originally from Burgundy and recognisable for its characteristic bunches, pinot noir is a noble grape variety used to make wines in regional appellations, Villages and Premier Cru. It quickly became established in Champagne where it represents 40% of all the vines planted. Pinot noir is vinified as a single variety or as part of a blend, offering a broad aromatic palette through wines renowned as being elegant and delicate, or more dense and full-bodied.

Serving temperature: between 8°C and 10°C


Established in the Bordeaux region in the late 18th century, this black grape variety offers an aromatic richness that develops with ageing. It is widely used in the production of wines from Bordeaux châteaux in particular. Its colour, roundness and fruitiness have made it popular far beyond Bordeaux. A true global success.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 18°C


Considered one of the 6 most widely grown grape varieties in the world, syrah makes for powerful wines with red fruit aromas and a deep colour, with inky purple glints. In northern Rhône, syrah is mainly used to make red wines, with excellent ageing potential, while in Languedoc-Roussillon it is used more for rosé wines.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 18°C


Originating from Charentes, this south-western French red grape is used to produce tannic and deeply coloured wines, with a very dark, almost black hue. Malbec is indissociable from the Cahors AOC, where it represents 70% of the blend. It is the twelfth most-planted grape in the world, with Argentina being the world’s largest producer.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 18°C

Cabernet Sauvignon

Found in France in the Médoc, and more particularly on the left bank of the Gironde, cabernet sauvignon is one of the most widely produced grapes in the world. Often blended with merlot, this is one of the most polymorphic red grape varieties. It is particularly renowned for producing tannic, rather full-bodied and structured red wines that can be aged for a long time.

Serving temperature: between 15°C and 17°C

Sauvignon blanc 

Recognised as one of the best grape varieties for producing white wines in France, sauvignon blanc originates from Bordeaux. Sought after for its freshness and minerality, it produces very high-quality dry or sweet white wines with differing aromas depending on their provenance, and with excellent ageing potential. It is also found in the Loire Valley, Provence, the Cher Valley and Languedoc.

Serving temperature: between 9°C and 11°C

Carignan: a Mediterranean grape

Originally from Cariñena, its home town in Spain, carignan quickly became established in the south-west, and more specifically in Languedoc and the Southern Rhône. It pairs perfectly with grenaches, syrahs or mourvèdres. Long associated with mass viticulture, this black grape yields rather tannic wines, dominated by red and black fruit flavours on the palate.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 17°C


A black grape acclaimed for its gourmet, powerful, dense and deeply coloured wines. Originally from Aragón in Spain, grenache noir is one of the most widely grown grapes in France, particularly in the Languedoc-Roussillon and Southern Rhône regions. Often combined with syrah or mourvèdre, grenache is a grape variety that ages well, with a structure that pairs perfectly with grilled dishes, dishes cooked in sauce or marinades.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 18°C


Gamay is the grape variety of choice in the production of the fine red wines from the Mâconnais and originates from Côte de Beaune. It is a fairly fertile grape that comes from pinot noir, a gourmet, aromatic grape known for its characteristic purple-blue glints.

Serving temperature: between 13°C and 15°C

Petit verdot: Bordeaux’s historic grape variety

A red grape originally from the Médoc, petit verdot is considered a late-ripening variety. With plenty of tannins, it lends a wine structure and volume, as well as an intense colour and aromatic intensity reminiscent of violet. It is often blended with merlot or cabernets and is a perfect pairing for barbecues.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 18°C

Cabernet Franc

Considered an early variety, cabernet franc is known for its fine tannins and its structure, with gently spicy notes. A delicate red grape, usually combined with petit verdot, merlot or even cabernet sauvignon, it adds roundness and a degree of aromatic intensity. It is a historical grape variety from Saint-Emilion, found in the South-West, Pomerol and Fronsac in particular. Enjoy with meats and traditional dishes.

Serving temperature: between 11°C and 14°C


Considered one of the oldest grapes in the world, muscat encompasses a whole family of grapes, most often used to produce dry or sweet white wines, as well as sparkling wines. A total of 150 grape varieties use the name muscat and have characteristic aromas reminiscent of musk. Its grapes ripen in hot and dry climates, in the south of France and in Alsace.

Serving temperature: between 7°C and 10°C

Melon de Bourgogne: the only grape variety for Muscadet

Originally from Burgundy, this grape is a cross between gouais blanc and the pinot noir, making for a wide range of harmonies and flavours. Its most unique feature is undoubtedly its natural salty freshness, which pairs perfectly with shellfish, fish and seafood. It grows on clay and stony soils and does especially well in Muscadet.

Serving temperature: between 8°C and 10°C


A grape variety with strong tannins that mainly produces red wines. Often combined with syrah or grenache, mourvèdre is planted widely across the South of France, particularly in Provence, Roussillon, Languedoc and the southern Rhône valley. Due to its low acidity, it pairs well with red meats and Mediterranean dishes.

Serving temperature: between 16°C and 17°C


A southern grape originally from Provence, it is considered one of the oldest grapes in the South of France. Like mourvèdre, it can be found in hot, dry areas such as Languedoc-Roussillon or the Rhône valley. Cinsault is used to produce bright rosé wines as well as light red wines. The wines are refreshing and delicious, with red fruit notes. Ideal for an apéritif or with grilled dishes.

Serving temperature: between 8°C and 10°C

— Tuesday 2 January 2024 by Olivier