There are over 10,000 grapes on the earth, but not all of them are used in making wine. While numbers vary, most would agree that at least 1,000 of them are currently used to make wine. Now, make a guess as to what wine grape is the most planted varietal. If you guessed Merlot, you’re close…. it’s second. If you guessed Cabernet Sauvignon you are right! Cabernet Sauvignon accounts for >5% of the grapes for wine production around the globe. There are more than Cabernet vines than both Pinot Noir and Syrah and plantings combined.
You may have been lucky on choosing Cabernet, however, for the most planted white wine grape varietal, what’s your guess? Chances are >99% of you guessed incorrectly. For white wine grapes, the world’s most widely planted variety is Airen. That’s right…Airen. This grape ranks 4th among both red and white wine grapes. It is surpassed only by Cab, Merlot, and Tempranillo. Airen vines account for more than both Pinot Noir and Sauv Blanc combined.
Airen is grown almost exclusively in Spain. Up until a few years ago it was the world’s most widely planted grape. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s because Airen is often used for Spain’s unpretentious wines. The last five years, however, many of the Airen vines have been ripped out and replaced with Tempranillo, another grape native to Spain. That being said, Airen and Tempranillo combined currently account for 45% of all of Spain’s wine grapes.
Below is a list of the Top Ten wine grape varietals across the globe:
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
8. Sauvignon Blanc
9. Pinot Noir
10. Trebbiano (also called Ugni Blanc)