8 wine grape varieties you've probably never heard of

Surprise your next dinner guests with these delicious, relatively unknown varieties.

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The once mighty Carignan

Despite its prominence in 20th-century vineyards, including, at one point, the most common variety in France, the Carignan grape has remained a relative unknown to wine drinkers.

Native to Aragon, Spain, the variety is well regarded for its dark, rich color – a characteristic that makes it extremely popular in blends. Despite large yields, the vine is susceptible to mildew and rot and requires a Mediterranean climate to mature fruit.

Tasting notes praise the variety for its flavorful opening punch, with hints of tobacco, olive and brown sugar rounding out the swallow. Because of its tannic and acidic underpinnings, Carignan would go best with broiled lamb chops, roast chicken or chicken wings with Mediterranean herbs.

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