Confocal Raman spectroscopy has emerged as a major, versatile workhorse for the non-invasive characterization of graphene. Although it is successfully used to determine the number of layers, the quality of edges, and the effects of strain, doping and disorder, the nature of the experimentally observed broadening of the most prominent Raman 2D line has remained unclear. Here we show that the observed 2D line width contains valuable information on strain variations in graphene on length scales far below the laser spot size, that is, on the nanometre-scale. This finding is highly relevant as it has been shown recently that such nanometre-scaled strain variations limit the carrier mobility in high-quality graphene devices. Consequently, the 2D line width is a good and easily accessible quantity for classifying the crystalline quality, nanometre-scale flatness as well as local electronic properties of graphene, all important for future scientific and industrial applications.