The term ampelography comes from the Greek (ámpelos -vine, and gráphos -writing), and is the science that deals with classifying wine vines in their different varieties. But why is this science so relevant? The grape variety largely defines the style of wine; a Chardonnay and a Riesling have different flavours, whilst a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon fail to complement each other.
The study of varieties is enthralling, and advanced DNA recognition techniques are now being used to gain a clear scientific understanding of the origin, development and genetics of the plant. What is a variety? How many are there? How many are used to make wine? How are they recognized? How are they propagated? Which ones are better? Where do winegrowers get them from? These are some of the questions that will be answered in this chapter of technical profile, using clear and accessible language.