10 Types of Wine In Idaho You NEED To Try

Idaho wine varieties are as diverse as the state in which they’re grown. But what exactly is a wine variety? It's a specific type of wine distinguished by the type of grapes used in its production, each contributing its own flavor profile and characteristics to the final product. 

In simple terms, black grapes are used to produce red wine and white grapes are used to produce white wine. Within those two categories, there are thousands of grape varieties that produce specific types of wine. While the grape’s skin gives red and white wine its hue, there are a wide range of factors that contribute to each wine variety, including the fermentation process. The warm days, cool nights, and affordable land in Idaho have drawn passionate and talented winemakers from all over to plant roots here and create some of the most delicious and unique wine you’ll ever taste.

Idaho grape grower picking white wine grapes in vineyard
Freshly picked black grapes for Idaho red wine

Nearly all wines can be categorized into three types of wine: still, sparkling, or fortified. Simply put, a still wine is any kind of wine that is not sparkling. A sparkling wine is carbonated and bubbly with added carbon dioxide. A fortified wine has extra alcohol added to it. Since still wines are by far the largest category of wine, that’s what we’ll be covering in this blog. If you’re interested in sparkling wine in Idaho, learn more here!

Woman pouring Idaho wine and serving to woman in tasting room
Will Wetmore, owner of Veer Wine,  tasting Idaho white wine outside

From bold reds to crisp whites, let's uncork the 10 most common types of wine you’ll find in Idaho. The best way to find your perfect bottle is by trying them all and exploring how each wine pairs with different foods! Be sure to join us at Savor Idaho this year for the biggest wine event of the year with unlimited wine tastings.

1. Merlot

Bottle of Bitner Vineyards Merlot outside in front of vineyard]
Glass of Idaho Merlot from Two Bad Labs Vineyard outside

Merlot is the second most produced wine in Idaho with 86 acres planted! Merlot grapes make wine with smooth textures and soft tannins.  

Color: Deep purplish red

Body: Medium to full-bodied

Growing Regions: Snake River Valley, Eagle Foothills and Lewis-Clark Valley.

Tasting Notes: Smooth, dry, plum, blackberries, cherries, and red fruits. 

Pairing Notes: Steak, grilled chops, and pasta dishes with tomato-based sauce. 

Where To Taste: Get a taste of Idaho Merlot at Pend d’Oreille, Ste.Chapelle, Huston Vineyards, Van Patten Cellars, Rolling Hills Vineyard, and Two Bad Labs Vineyard.

2. Syrah

Bottle of Sawtooth Syrah by the water
Bottle of Koenig Syrah

Idaho Syrah has been making waves on the international stage, earning accolades and awards for its exceptional quality and craftsmanship. From prestigious wine competitions to renowned critics' reviews, Idaho Syrah continues to garner attention for its elegance, depth, and age-worthy potential and we encourage you to give it a try!

Color: Red

Body: Full-bodied

Growing Regions: Snake River Valley, Eagle Foothills

Tasting Notes: Plum, tobacco, cured meat and black pepper.

Pairing Notes: Lamb, beef, smoked meats and white cheddar.

Where to Taste: Enjoy a wine tasting at Cinder Wines, Par Terre Winery, Lost Sage Wines, Cabin View Winery, Koenig Vineyards, Rolling Hills Vineyard, Fujishin Family Cellars, Dude Dewalt Cellars, Colter’s Creek, and Jovinea Cellars.

3. Cabernet Sauvignon

Bottle of Snake River Cabernet Sauvignon outside
Bottle of Ste.Chapelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Bottle of Fujishin Cabernet Sauvignon in front of vineyard

Cabernet Sauvignon is a fan-favorite! This grape grows well in Idaho’s climate with 60 acres planted. Find a winery near you to enjoy a nice glass of Idaho Cabernet Sauvignon.

Color: Red

Body: Medium to full-bodied 

Growing Regions: Snake River Valley, Eagle Foothills

Tasting Notes: Black cherry, black currant and baking spices.

Food Pairings: Steak, lamb chops, grilled meats and aged cheddar.

Where to try: Nearly all of our Idaho wineries serve Cabernet Sauvignon! Visit one today.

4. Malbec

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Malbec is a bold and complex wine variety that can be difficult to produce. Because of the acidity needed to produce this type of wine, Malbec must be planted at higher altitudes. Luckily, Idaho has the perfect spot with warm days and cold nights for these beloved grapes, and Malbec thrives here with 42 acres planted! 

Color: Purple

Body: Full-bodied

Growing Regions: Snake River Valley

Tasting Notes: Chocolate, tobacco, vanilla and coffee with medium tannins and medium acidity. 

Pairing Notes: Steak, creamy mushroom sauces, melted cheese, and blue cheese.

Where to try: Proletariat Wines, Scoria Vineyards, Cabin View Winery, and Williamson Orchards and Vineyard. 

5. Cabernet Franc

Bottle of Telaya’s Cabernet France with glass of wine sitting next to fireplace

Cabernet Franc has proven to be very robust with its diversity of taste from fruit-forward and approachable wines to more complex and age-worthy offerings. Cabernet Franc is one of the parent grapes of the well-known Cabernet Sauvignon that thrives in our state’s diverse terrier. 

Color: Red

Body: Medium-bodied

Growing Regions: Lewis-Clark Valley

Tasting Notes: Strawberry, raspberry, bell pepper, and chili pepper with high acidity. 

Pairing Notes: Tomato-based dishes, fresh herbs, chicken and turkey, and goat cheese.

Where To Taste: Kindred Vineyards, Cabin View Winery, and Coeur d’Alene Cellars.

6. Tempranillo

bottle of colter’s creek tempranillo with glass of wine next to it]
Bottle of Fujishin Tempranillo in front of tree

Tempranillo is a complex wine variety with contrasting flavors of cherry and leather. Idaho Tempranillo may taste full-bodied, but the larger grapes with thinner skins may make the wine appear more translucent. 

Color: Ruby red

Body: Medium-bodied

Growing Region: Snake River Valley

Tasting Notes: Cherry, plum, vanilla, cedar and leather.

Pairing Notes: Lasagna, pizza and dishes with tomato-based sauces, and barbecue grilled meats.

Where To Taste: Enjoy a glass of Idaho Tempranillo at Hat Ranch Winery, Par Terre Winery, Lost Sage Wines, and Sol Invictus Vineyard

7. Riesling

Indian Creek Riesling bottle and glass of wine outside
Bottle of Veer Wine Project’s 2022 Riesling

Riesling is the most common wine variety in Idaho with over 100 acres of land planted with riesling grapes. 

Color: Pale greenish-yellow

Body: Light-bodied

Growing Regions: Snake River Valley, Eagle Foothills

Tasting Notes: Citrus, white peach, nectarine and floral elements. 

Pairing Notes: Chicken, pork, duck, turkey and fondue

Where to Taste: Camas Prairie Winery, Veer Wine Project, Cinder Wines, Sawtooth Winery, Colter’s Creek, Rolling Hills Vineyard. and Bitner Vineyards.

8. Chardonnay

Bottle of Dude DeWalt Chardonnay sitting on counter
Bottle of Holesinsky Chardonnay laying in vineyard dirt

Idaho Chardonnay is a consistent fan-favorite. Whether it’s oaked, rich and buttery or unoaked, light, and crispy, Chardonnay is an incredibly versatile,popular white wine.  

Color: Light to rich yellow

Body: Medium to full-bodied

Growing Regions: Snake River Valley, Eagle Foothills

Tasting Notes: Buttery and spicy when oaked, or floral and zesty if unoaked.

Pairing Notes: Meaty fish, crab, cream sauces, and soft cheeses.

Where to try: Try a glass of Idaho Chardonnay at Coeur d’Alene Cellars, Pend d’Orielle Winery, Buckhorn Vineyards, Dude Dewalt Cellars, and Holesinsky Vineyard and Winery.

9. Viognier

Bottle of Idaho Viognier sitting in sand in front of women holding beach balls
Bottle of Rolling Hills Viognier]
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Idaho Viognier is a gem among white wine varieties, celebrated for its rarity and distinctive character. While not as widely planted as other wine grapes, its allure lies in its aromatic intensity and luxurious mouthfeel.

Color: Light yellow

Body: Full-bodied

Growing Region: Eagle Foothills

Tasting Notes: Rich, creamy, apricot, and honeysuckle with a rounded, smooth finish. 

Pairing Notes: Curries, spicy dishes, chicken, creamy sauces and cheeses, and sweet root vegetables. 

Where To Taste: Try a glass of Idaho Viognier at Split Rail Winery, Telaya Wine Co., Rolling Hills Vineyard, Potter Wines, Cinder Wines, Clearwater Canyon Cellars, Cold Springs Winery, Fujishin Family Cellars, and Indian Creek Winery!

10. Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris

Bottle of Dude DeWalt Cellars Pinot Gris with woman holding glass of white wine
Woman holding wine glass of Pinot Gris wine

While typically associated with Italy, Pinot Gris found its way to Idaho's fertile soil, where it thrives in the unique climate and terroir of the region.

Color: Pinkish-gray

Body: Light-bodied

Growing Regions: Eagle Foothills

Tasting Notes: Dry, bitter, light citrus and white floral notes.

Pairing Notes: Salad, delicate fish, light and mild cheese.

Where To Taste: Vizcaya Winery, Sweetbriar Vineyard and Winery, Y Knot Winery, and 3 Horse Ranch Vineyards.

Savor The Diverse Flavors Of Idaho Wine Varieties

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From the "grape" climate to the "berry" best latitude for growing grapes, Idaho's AVAs have drawn passionate and talented winemakers from all over to create some of the most delicious and unique types of wine you’ll ever taste. Visit a local winery and embark on a wine tasting to experience the diversity of flavors between each Idaho wine variety. 

Plus, every Idaho variety listed above (plus more) will be available at Savor Idaho! Join us for the state’s biggest wine tasting event of the year. You’ll enjoy sipping different wine types from over 30 wineries, each with their own unique flare and flavor. Purchase your Savor Idaho tickets today.