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These are now the world’s most popular wines

Did you know there are more than 10,000 grape varietals in the world? Despite there being so many potential types of wine that can be produced, the list of the world’s most popular wines has more or less remained constant throughout the years with some rise and fall in ranks over time.

While admittedly there is an exotic charm to obscure grapes, the traditional favourites remain popular with customers to this day and are easier to sell and invest in. These belong in every respectable wine collection, cut across personal favourites, and make for obvious recommendations.

Read on about six such classic wines that were widely popular yesterday and remain so today.

1. Cabernet Sauvignon

Arguably the most popular wine in the world is also the most popular red wine. There’s about 840,000 acres of vineyard across the world, including New World wine regions like Napa and Maipo Valley, producing Cabernet Sauvignon. It helps that the vine is highly adaptable to different terroirs. It produces a full-bodied red wine, deep hue in colour, with good acidity and tannin, and primary notes of dark fruits like blackcurrants and cherries. Cab Sauv pairs extremely well with heavier dishes like steak, lamb, or venison, and smoked meats.  

2. Merlot

The popularity of Merlot can be attributed to the fact that it is a quintessential crowd-pleaser. It is an easy-drinking, fine-ageing, medium-bodied, delicious wine with soft and plummy fruit flavours. The grape’s skin thickness and reliable ripening traits make it the second most widely cultivated wine grape with a land area of about 657,000 acres worldwide. Like Cab Sauv, this Bordeaux red also pairs well with hearty dishes like steak, heavier meats, and hamburgers.

3. Tempranillo

Spain’s signature grape is Tempranillo, the star ingredient in the much popular wines of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. About 570,800 acres of vineyard area around the world produce these hardy bush wines. Tempranillo offers a variety of primarily fruity flavours like cherry, blackberry, and fig, and also mild notes of tobacco and leather. It is usually blended with Grenache and used to produce rosé as well as red wines. Tempranillo pairs well with red meats and roasted vegetables.

4. Airén

It is only as recently as this millennium that red grapes have overtaken white varieties as the world’s top grapes. Even thirty years ago, the most common grape was Airén, a white varietal barely heard of outside central Spain. With about 538,700 acres of vineyard area dedicated to its cultivation, it is now the fourth most widely planted grape variety in the world. The Airén is a drought-resistant type that is mostly used to produce brandy and fortified wines like sherry and port. It also makes for a bold and popular table wine, mostly consumed in Spain, that is dry, crisp, and young with low acidity and mild fruit flavours like apple, banana, and grapefruit. It pairs well with Mediterranean cuisine and seafood.

5. Chardonnay

The world’s most popular white wine is the crisp and creamy Chardonnay, originated from Burgundy in France and is now grown across 518,900 acres of vineyard around the world. It is traditionally aged in oak barrels, which gives the wine a toasty flavour. Chardonnay has a buttery feel to it, with dominant flavours of lemon, pears, and pineapple as well as notes of cloves, vanilla, caramel and smoke. The creaminess of the wine makes it a perfect accompaniment to sauces, chicken and mushrooms, shellfish, and various types of cheese.

6. Syrah

Australia’s most popular red wine, Shiraz or Syrah, is produced across 470,000 acres of vineyard in the world. The grape originated in France, where it is known as Hermitage or as Côte-Rôtie. This is a full-bodied and deeply aromatic wine with dark fruity notes of plum, black cherry, and berries, and hints of pepper, liquorice, and smoke. It pairs well with roasted meats, pulled pork, and vegetables.

While these are some of the most popular wines in the world based on varietal and vineyard area, there are a number of other wines like Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir, without which a list like this would be decidedly incomplete.

Besides Tempranillo, Grenache is Spain’s core red varietal that has been traditionally used in blends but is now coming into its own as a single varietal wine. Sauv Blanc is another classic French white wine and also the parent grape of the Cabernet Sauvignon. The delicate Pinot Noir is a Burgundy mainstay that rivals the Cab Sauv in popularity and is widely loved for its bold red fruit flavours and warm floral notes.


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