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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Varietal \Va*ri"e*tal\, a. Of or pertaining to a variety; characterizing a variety; constituting a variety, in distinction from an individual or species.

Perplexed in determining what differences to consider as specific, and what as varietal.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"having the characteristics of a variety," 1849, a biologists' word, from variety + -al (1). In reference to wines, "made from a single variety of grape," first attested 1941, American English. As a noun, in this sense, attested from 1955. Related: Varietally.


a. 1 (context biology English) Pertaining to a distinct variety of organism. 2 Made from a single specific variety (especially of grapes in wine). n. 1 A wine made primarily from or exclusively from a single variety of grape, which carries the name of that grape. 2 By extension, a coffee made primarily from or exclusively from a single variety of coffee bean.


A varietal wine is a wine made primarily from a single named grape variety, and which typically displays the name of that variety on the wine label. Examples of grape varieties commonly used in varietal wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Wines that display the name of two or more varieties on their label, such as a Chardonnay- Viognier, are blends and not varietal wines. The term is frequently misused in place of vine variety; the term variety refers to the vine or grape while varietal refers to the wine produced by a variety.

As vintners and consumers have become aware of the characteristics of individual varieties of wine grapes, wines have also come to be identified by varietal names.

The term was popularized in the US by Maynard Amerine at the University of California, Davis after Prohibition seeking to encourage growers to choose optimal vine varieties, and later promoted by Frank Schoonmaker in the 1950s and 1960s, ultimately becoming widespread during the California wine boom of the 1970s. Varietal wines are commonly associated with New World wines in general, but there is also a long-standing tradition of varietal labelling in Germany and other German-influenced wine regions including Austria, Alsace, and the Czech Republic.

Usage examples of "varietal".

In this systematic way the varietal adaptations of the different classes of fruits were accurately worked out for all parts of the country.

He could speak with knowledge on any subject from the decline of the Roman empire to the varietal differences of red wines-French, of course.

But the genus and species identifiers inhabiting his past, while occasionally colorful, were functional: ratios arranging in systematic manner what would otherwise be arbitrary varietal chaos.

Chardonnay, a puckering rendition of a California varietal she probably bought by the keg.

He opened one of his bottles of varietal wine and poured it into jelly glasses.

But Thorne unlatched one to display an antique ceramic tea set and a couple of dozen small canisters of varietal teas of Earth and other planetary origins, all protected from breakage by custom-made foam packing.

But they also produce merlot, cabernet sauvignon, Rhone varietals, and a small amount of chardonnay.

Tuscan Club, has established a favorable reputation for its Italian varietals such as muscat canelli, sangiovese, and nebbiolo.

Instead, the man launched into an explanation of corn varietals so detailed that the eyes of even the most enthusiastic corn farmer glazed over.

This one was covered with vegetation that resembled the Terran-type forests planted on Vega III, varietals that had adapted to slightly different soils.

MasterVintner Wonegal was still trying to reproduce it, but the vine blight of two hundred turns before had wiped out that varietal, and cross-pollinating of the better white grapes had not yet produced an adequate replacement.