- a red wine grape variety that is now one of the most frequently grown and best known grape varieties in the world. It is drunk as a varietal and also used in blends. It is the main ingredient of French Médoc and graves wines as well as of many of California’s great wines. In Europe its planting outside France is increasing. It can also be found in Australia, where it is often blended with Syrah (Shiraz), and in South America. The grape is a hardy plant with thick-skinned grapes that allow it to survive cold and be resistant to disease while providing a strong wine with plenty of tannin. It is sometimes referred to as the king of red grapes. The wine at its best is complex and fruity, with good structure.