The ultimate A-Z of grapes: S

The ultimate A-Z of grapes: S


An Italian grape varietal that is indigenous to the region of Umbria in Central Italy, and makes some of that region’s most distinctive wines. It is grown primarily in the village of Montefalco. The grape is one of the most tannic varietals in the world, and creates wines that are inky purple with an almost-black centre. The nose is one of dark, brooding red fruits with hints of plum, cinnamon, and earth.


Sangiovese is most famous as the main component of the Chianti blend in Tuscany. Young Sangiovese is fresh and fruity with strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavours when aged in barrels. Its best expression is probably in the wines of Brunello di Montalcino.


A red grape variety used to make Georgian wines. Two notable examples are Kindzmarauli (two years old) and Mukuzani (three year old and vintage). It originated from Kakheti region of Eastern Georgia and now is spread throughout its entire territory. One year old wine made from this grape is branded as “Saperavi”. It produces substantial deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging, perhaps up to fifty years!

Sauvignon Blanc

Originates from the Bordeaux region of France but now planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white wine. Depending on climate, the flavor can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. Wine experts have used the phrase “crisp, elegant, and fresh” as a favorable description of Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley and New Zealand.

Savatiano is a white Greek wine grape used primarily in the wine Retsina. It is one of Greece’s most widely planted grape varieties and is known for its resistance to drought condition. It is mostly planted throughout central Greece, particularly in Attica near Athens. In Retsina, the naturally low acidity of the grape is sometimes compensated from by the addition of Assyrtiko and Rhoditis in the blend


A rather heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily texture. It has a high yield and wines based on it can age a long, long time. In France, Sémillon grape is grown mostly in Bordeaux where it is blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.

When dry, it is referred to as Bordeaux Blanc. It's also a major constituent in the sweet white wines of Bordeaux (Sauternes, Barsac).

In Australia it is best known as a single varietal from Hunter Valley.


(Cerceal in Portuguese) is the name applied to any of several white grapes grown in Portugal, especially on the island of Madeira, and gives its name to the dryest of the four classic varieties of Madeira fortified wine.

The grape is grown in diminishing quantities at the southern end of the island. Its late ripening allows it to retain its characteristic acidity. Its fortified wines have been known to last for well over a century.


Souzão (or Sousao) is a red Portuguese wine grape used in the production of Port. In Portugal, it is also an authorized planting in the Dao area (Vinho do Dão). The grape is known for the deep color it produces in a wine as well as its coarse and raisiny taste.


A white wine grape grown primarily in Alsace and Germany. The vigour of the Sylvaner vine is all important as the grape’s neutral flavour can lead to blandness unless yields are controlled. On the other hand it gives a blank canvas for the expression of terroir, and on good sites with skilled winemaking, Sylvaner can produce elegant wine. It has high acidity but is naturally quite sweet, so is often blended with other varieties such as Riesling or Elbling, and is sometimes made into a dessert wine.


A dark-skinned variety of grape used in wine. Syrah is grown in many countries and is primarily used to produce powerful red wines. Syrah produces wines with a wide range of flavor notes, depending on the climate and soils where it is grown. Aroma characters can range from violets to dark berries, chocolate, espresso and black pepper. No one aroma can be called “typical” though blackberry and pepper are often noticed. The main grape in some of the most famous Rhône reds.