De Long Wine Moment


August 23rd, 2007

The Big Ten


Out of habit, everyone (myself included) keeps referring to the big 6 grape varieties – Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon – but the list seems a little outdated. Where’s the Syrah? Where’s the Zin? Where’s the Sangiovese?

Winemetrics published this list last week based on wine lists in over 10,000 USA restaurants:

Top varieties Consumed:
Cabernet Sauvignon 16.2%
Chardonnay 14.9%
Pinot Noir 9.6%
Merlot 9.0%
Cabernet Sauvignon Blends 8.0%
Syrah/Shiraz 5.2%
Sauvignon Blanc 4.5%
Zinfandel/Primitivo 3.9%
Sangiovese 3.4%
Pinot Grigio/Gris 2.8%
Riesling 2.2%
Other 20.2%

Not counting Bordeaux/Cab. Sauv. blends that’s 10. It seems like a good time for a revamp.

How about the big 10?

Winemetrics has a great deal more information for wine stats lovers on their site as well. Thanks to for mentioning them.

If you would like to expand your horizons beyond the big 10, please take a look at this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday – Go native! indigenous grape varieties moderated by Dr. Vino.

  • andrea gori

    from Italy, where Sangioves rulez, is always interesting to look at this tables.
    Unfortunately by now we don’t have similar updated info on our habits at dinner for wine consumption. When I will find some, I will forward them to you! Thanks for the post!

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  • Steve De Long

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for the comment. I can imagine that Italians are healthily not as statistics obsessed as Americans!

    Also interesting to note that Zinfandel is the same as Primitivo, so two Italian varieties are in the top 10!

  • Marcus

    Restaurant wine is one thing. I heard a ridiculously high majority of all white wine retail purchases in North America is White Zinfandel! That’s sure to skew things a touch.

  • Steve De Long

    Yes, supermarket wine is a completely different animal. The good thing about restaurant lists is that they are more likely to be selected by people who appreciate wine even if tempered by popular tastes.

  • Eric Lecours


    This list seems accurate with regards to popularity in the US of varieties. But that is what it represents. Quality is different of course. I remember years ago learning the four noble grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. I had never had a Riesling and was shocked it was not on the list. In terms of “Great” grapes, at quick glance Nebbiolo, Grenache and Tempranillo would certainly need to be added.

  • Steve De Long

    Hi Eric,

    Yes, Nebbiolo, Grenache and Tempranillo definitely need to be included in the great category. I was surprised that Riesling made it into the top 10 in popularity!

    The list could quickly be expanded to 20 great/popular grapes (in no order):

    1. Cabernet Sauvignon
    2. Chardonnay
    3. Pinot Noir
    4. Merlot
    5. Syrah/Shiraz
    6. Sauvignon Blanc
    7. Zinfandel/Primitivo
    8. Sangiovese
    9. Pinot Grigio/Gris
    10. Riesling
    11. Nebbiolo
    12. Tempranillo
    13. Grenache
    14. Gamay
    15. Garganaga (the Soave Grape)
    16. Pinot Blanc
    17. Cabernet Franc
    18. Gewurtztraminer
    19. Muscat Blanc
    20. Chenin Blanc

    And I’ve left off Mourvedre, Albarino, Touriga Nacional, Palamino, Trebbiano, Vernaccia, Verdicchio, Fiano, Greco . . .

  • prodromos


  • Steve De Long

    21. Agiorgitiko

  • Marcus

    Restaurant wine is one thing. I heard a ridiculously high majority of all white wine retail purchases in North America is White Zinfandel! That's sure to skew things a touch.

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