Types of Wine
Who doesn’t love a nice glass of wine with a well-prepared meal? Perhaps you like to sip a glass when you’re out by the pool or sitting on the porch of a mountain hideaway relaxing with your thoughts. Wine is the one drink in the world that can be incredibly simple or monumentally complex. Indeed, there are thousands of vineyards all over the world and an endless assortment of grapes that will give their own unique characteristics when used to make wine. As if it isn’t enough that a type of grape produces a particular type of wine, there is also a difference depending on the region and soil the vine is growing in.
The differences between red and white wines involve so much more than just color. For example, red wines are rich in tannins which give red wine a slightly bitter, dry taste. On the other hand, the lack of tannins in white wine give it a crisper, sweeter, slightly more acidic flavor.
It’s absolutely impossible to become familiar with all the different types of wine. Even the more popular types can be difficult to remember. Unless you are a sommelier, you really only need to know about some of the better-known wines. Most ones come from a single type of grape, yet the flavor profile is so complex and varied. Here are the 10 popular tones of wine you should know. To keep things simple, we’ve split the list into reds and whites.
1. Pinot Noir
The grapes needed to make this much sought after wine are grown in the Burgundy region of France. This particular grape is very demanding. It wants a particular type of soil, the perfect climate and a lot of care. The end result is that only a certain quantity of grapes can actually makes it to the Pinot Noir wine barrel. Unfortunately, this also means there are not a huge amount of bottles that reach the marketplace each year so a bottle of Pinot Noir tends to come with a higher price tag.
Pinot Noir is a light to medium bodied dry red wine that tends to pair well with creamy sauced and traditional dishes. There are notes of strawberry and cherry, along with herbal and warm spice tones. It is a treasured wine and using electric wine bottle openers will insure you don’t agitate to bottle too much during opening which may affect the bouquet. This is a wine you will keep for those very special occasions.
2. Shiraz / Syrah
In Australia and South Africa this dry red wine is called Shiraz. In Europe and parts of the US it’s known as Syrah. Whatever you call it, this is a beautiful wine with lots of deep rich flavors. The Shiraz / Syrah grape is grown in the Rhone region of France, but in recent years, Australia has successfully grown this grape and is now producing 23% of the world’s Shiraz.
This is a dry, medium to full bodied wine with a deep purple color. The tannins are rich in black berry flavored fruits like blackberries and boysenberries. This is the wine to serve with roasted meats like beef, venison or other game meat. You will also enjoy this wine with strong cheeses like a sharp cheddar or Roquefort.
Once upon a time, California grew a mysterious grape and made wine called Zinfandel. For years, the origins of this grape remained a mystery. After much research, and many years of searching and testing of various grapes, the Zinfandel mystery has been sold. DNA testing of this Californian marvel have confirmed that the grape is identical to none other than the Italian Primitivo and Croatia’s Crljenak Kastelanski. This is an old variety of grape and although popular in Italy and Croatia, the true origins are in the Dalmatia region of Croatia. This is a rather ancient species of grape that is grown in the sunny Sothern regions of both Italy and Croatia and it is still unclear how it has become so popular in California’s wine country.
For your drinking pleasure, Zinfandel is a little lighter in color than traditional reds. It is a dry, semi-sweet wine with rich fruity tones. This spectacular wine goes great with lighter foods, cheeses and pizza. Zinfandel is best consumed at a cooler temperature so to get the best drinking experience during summer, serve Zinfandel right out of refrigerators.
One of the most popular red wines in the world is Merlot. The grapes are grown in the Bordeaux region of France. These grapes like a cooler climate with rich, well-drained soil. It grows well in many cool regions around the world, but the real magical flavors happen when the grapes are grown in home in Bordeaux.
Merlots tend to be heavy bodied but lack the sharp bites of tannins usually found in red wine varieties. There are hints of soft fruit flavors like black cherries and plums. Merlot is a beautiful, smooth red wine that is very easy to drink. This makes it perfect for those just starting to appreciate good wine. Drink with caution though. Merlot is reputed to having a slightly higher alcohol level than other reds, and as it does have a tendency to go down smoothly, you may fool yourself into thinking you can drink more than you should.
In terms of food pairing, Merlot can be paired with just about anything. The perfect setting for a glass of Merlot is an outdoor barbecue with grilled meats, or sitting by the fire with a platter of strong cheeses, prosciutto and olives.
5. Cabernet Sauvignon
Also from the Bordeaux region of France, Cabernet Sauvignon is a full bodied dry red wine and is often referred to as the King of the Grapes. This is a particular sturdy grape that can be grown almost anywhere but is quite popular in vineyards in the Napa Valley region of California, certain areas of South America, as well as Australia and other areas.
Cabernet Sauvignon is usually aged in barrels for 15 – 30 months so that it can mature into a great red wine, full of flavor and with heavy tannins. The rich dark berry flavors of clack cherry, blackberries and black currants intertwine with hints of herbal notes.
This wine pairs really well with any meats such as game, beef, pork and poultry, but the lamb dishes seems to be the best with this star in the world of red wines. Pour your Cabernet Sauvignon into a wine aerator to release the bouquet of flavors directly into your nose and palate.
The Moscato grape hails from Greece where the sun shines for most of the year. Most often, the Moscato is considered to be a dessert wine, but Australian wineries have also successfully made Moscato as a dry, white wine. Interestingly, the Moscato grapes are just as great as a table grape as they are in the production of wine. Most often the color of the wine can vary from a very pale yellowy green to a bolder honey colored wine.
Moscato goes really well with cheese platters due to its subtle bouquet of strawberry and melons. It pairs well with spicy Asian dishes, and other lighter foods. As a dessert wine you can finish off a great meal with cake, a combination cheese and fruit platter and a glass of Moscato.
2. Pinot Grigio
The vineyards of Italy are responsible for the grapes that bring us the fabled Pinot Grigio. This is a dry white wine that has a light, crisp flavor. It is a light to medium bodied wine with hints of fruit flavors from apples, pears and citrus with a touch of floral notes. Pinot Grigio tends to be dry with a high acidity content.
Pinot Grigio is perfect as an aperitif, particularly for those that don’t like spirits or liqueurs, the perfect pairing is with light fish and seafood dishes, and those with creamy sauces as well.
Riesling is always on the acidic side. This pale white wine from Germany’s Rhine region is one of the most versatile wines available. The grape prefers cooler climates but still manages to remain low-maintenance. Most Rieslings are light bodied, but occasionally you can end up with something that is mid to full body. When properly chilled in wine coolers, Riesling can be a crisp and very refreshing wine.
Riesling features strongly in fruit and floral flavors, especially fruits such as apples and pears. In terms of pairing, you won’t need to rely on the services of a sommelier as this is a very versatile wine that practically pairs well with anything you can think of. Serve it chilled on a hot summer’s day and add some cold, sparkling mineral water for the perfect white wine spritzer.
One of the most popular types of whiter wine is Chardonnay. The grapes are grown in the burgundy region of France and are often referred to as the Queen of Grapes. It is one of most notably sold white wines in the world. With a dry, medium to full bodied wine with lots of flavors such as citruses and tropical fruits. It can sometimes also boast caramel flavors, thanks to the oak barrels this wine is left to mature in.
Chardonnay pairs well with all types of fish and seafood. It also goes well with light vegetable dishes and desserts. When it comes to cheeses, the best ones to pair with Chardonnay are softer cheeses like brie, or even some medium to full-bodied cheeses. Enjoy a chilled glass of Chardonnay as you relax by the pool.
5. Sauvignon Blanc
This is a dry, light to medium bodied white wine with a high acidity that produces a crisp, refreshing glass of wine. The grapes are grown in the Northwestern Loire Valley region of France but this hardy variety can survive almost anywhere.
This wine features, sharp, citrus flavors like grapefruit an demons and are complement by herby grassy undertones that produce a strong flavor and easy to drink wine.
When it comes to pairing a good Sauvignon Blamc, aim for light fish and seafood, and meat. In fact, any lighter style meal and desserts. When it does come to dessert, Sauvignon Blanc would pair wonderfully with a nice fruity cheesecake or a refreshing lemon sorbet.
Who would have thought that rotting grapes could transform into something fantastic? Wine making on its own is not a difficult process, but understanding how the process works is important to producing great wine.
Some of the best wines in the world come from France, but many other regions like vineyards in Napa Valley in California and the vineyards of South Australia are nor producing world class, award winning wines. Not to be overlooked are some of the great wines coming out of South America. The almost endless supply of year round sunshine and rich soils have put the Latino vineyards on the map
To get the best flavor out of your bottle of wine, you need to make sure you have an appropriate class and that the temperature of the wine is perfect. In general though, red wines tend to have better flavor when served at room temperature and white wines have a sharper, more refreshing flavor and aroma when chilled. This makes them considerably more popular of the summer months,
With so many different wines it can be a daunting task to pair the right wine with its appropriate dish and many of the wines of this list would sure to be featured. If you’re really not sure of which wine you should be serving with a particular meal, keep it simple and drink a wine you really like. It may not be the perfect match, but you’ll still enjoy the food and the wine.
Sip your wine slowly and drink in moderation to get the most out of the experience.