Cinsaut: Unveiling the Charms of an Understated Grape

Let’s dive into the understated world of Cinsaut, a red grape variety often overshadowed by its more illustrious peers. Cinsaut (or Cinsault as it’s also spelled) is known for its resilience in the vineyard and the aromatic, easy-drinking wines it produces, proving that even in the realm of wine, the supporting roles often bring something special to the table.

A Brief History

Originating from the South of France, Cinsaut has been grown since the 19th century, primarily in the Rhône Valley and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. It’s also an important component of Provence rosé. However, Cinsaut’s adaptability has seen its cultivation spread to other wine regions globally, including North Africa, Italy, and the New World, where it has adopted various roles in the production of both red and rosé wines.


Cinsaut is a heat and drought-resistant grape, making it ideal for cultivation in warmer climates. The vine produces large, dark-skinned berries in high yields, which often requires careful vineyard management to maintain quality. Wines made from Cinsaut are typically lower in tannin and acidity, with a bright, fruity character and a distinctively soft, approachable style.

Flavour Profile

Cinsaut wines are admired for their bright red fruit flavours, such as strawberry, raspberry, and cherry. They can also express subtle floral and spice notes, like violet and white pepper. The grape’s low tannins and medium acidity contribute to a smooth, easy-drinking style that often sees it used as a blending partner to add fragrance and softness to bolder varieties.

Different Styles of Wine

Cinsaut is versatile in the winery, capable of producing a range of wine styles. As a varietal wine, it’s typically light and fruit-forward, often served slightly chilled. It’s also a key player in many rosé wines, contributing freshness and delicate fruit aromas. In blends, Cinsaut is valued for its softness and aromatic complexity, complementing bolder, more tannic grape varieties.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

Cinsaut is usually vinified in stainless steel or concrete vats to preserve its bright fruit character, and it is rarely aged in oak. Some winemakers choose to use carbonic maceration, a technique often associated with Beaujolais, to further enhance the grape’s fruity aromas and soft tannins. Cinsaut’s light style means it’s often best enjoyed young, although some top-quality examples can show complexity with a few years of bottle age.

Important Regions

While the grape’s homeland is in Southern France, Cinsaut has found a new lease of life in South Africa, where it is known as Hermitage. It is also widely grown in the Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, where it contributes to the iconic Château Musar blend. Other regions cultivating Cinsaut include Algeria, Morocco, California, and Australia.

Food Pairing Suggestions

Cinsaut’s light body and fresh fruit flavours make it a versatile partner for a range of dishes. It pairs well with poultry, charcuterie, light pasta dishes, and grilled fish. Its low tannins also make it a good match for spicy foods and complex North African and Middle Eastern cuisine.

In the grand tapestry of wine, Cinsaut weaves a thread of subtle charm, illustrating the beauty of balance and simplicity. Its journey invites us to explore beyond the headliners and celebrate the diversity and versatility of the world’s grape varieties.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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