"Varietal" describes wines made primarily from a single named grape variety, and which typically displays the name of that variety on the wine label. Examples of grape varieties commonly used in varietal wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot. Wines that display the name of two or more varieties on their label, such as a Chardonnay-Viognier, are blends and not varietal wines. The term is frequently misused in place of vine variety; the term variety refers to the vine or grape while varietal refers to the wine produced by a variety.
Similarly, the term varietal can be used to describe cider made from a single variety of apple, tea made from a single variety and preparation, or to describe particular subspecies of coffee.
As vintners and consumers have become aware of the characteristics of individual varieties of wine grapes, wines have also come to be identified by varietal names.
The term's concept was developed by Maynard Amerine at UC Davis after the Prohibition seeking to encourage growers to choose optimal vine varieties, and later promoted by Frank Schoonmaker in the 1950s and 1960s, ultimately becoming widespread during the California wine boom of the 1970s. Varietal wines are commonly associated with New World wines in general, but there is also a long-standing tradition of varietal labelling in Germany and other German-speaking wine regions including Austria and Alsace.