Having knowledge about the basic types of wine can be useful. It adds to the drinking pleasure, heightens social experiences, and lets you fully appreciate what is in your glass. It also gives you the confidence to choose food that goes best with your preferred wine.
Wines are classified according to their characteristics: the variety of grapes, region of origin, alcohol and tannin level, body, acidity, sweetness, and aroma. Here are the basic wine types: white wine, red wine, rosé wine, sparkling wine, fortified wine, and dessert or sweet wine.
A common misconception about white wine is that it is made from white grapes. But white wine can actually be made from any grape colours, from white to red to black. The main process of white winemaking is to utilise only the grape juice and extract the pigments away. Below are the five most popular types of white wine:
- Riesling – classic German wine, slightly sweet with strong floral aroma, best paired with fish, chicken and pork dishes.
- Chardonnay – most popular white variety and has a rich citrus flavour and velvety texture, best paired with fish and chicken.
- Sauvignon Blanc – made from grapes that are grown in warm regions, it has a somewhat grassy fresh taste and crisp texture. This goes well with poultry, seafood, salad, and cheese.
- Moscato – sweet and fruity, best with fish, chicken, and desserts or you can enjoy it on its own.
- Pinot Grigio – citrusy and refreshing wine from Italy, goes well with seafood and chicken.
Unlike white wine, the addition of grape skin, pip, and seed to the fermentation process are what give red wines there characteristic crimson colour. They are more fruity and earthy in flavour. The five most popular types of red wine are as follows:
- Shiraz (also Syrah) – deep red wine that is rich in antioxidants, has a strong finish and is best paired with lamb, beef, venison, and other wild games.
- Cabernet Sauvignon – highly regarded as among the finest varieties in the world, it has a full-bodied mouthfeel and a rich currant taste, best paired with red meat.
- Merlot – smooth wine with a plum taste that can be paired with any type of food.
- Bordeaux – sweet and tart with an earthy aroma and strong currant flavour, it goes perfectly well with steak, cheese, and different kinds of shellfish.
- Pinot Noir – one of the most difficult varieties to grow and regarded as among the noblest types, it has a delicate and fresh fruity taste and is best paired with salmon, chicken, duck, lamb, and pasta dishes.
As the name suggests, this has a pink colour and fermented for a short period, around 36 hours only. A lot of people make this type of wine by mixing red and white wines together. It has a light, refreshing fruity taste and can be matched with any foods or fruits.
Associated with parties and celebrations, this type of wine is fizzy and ‘sparkles’ because of the addition of carbon dioxide. It is usually served in parties with salad, cheese, and bread. Sparkling wines can be red, white, or rosé; they are categorised into four groups:
- Brut – the most popular in the group; has a dry and slightly sweet characteristic. Champagne is the best example of this.
- Extra-brut – the driest kind of sparkling wine.
- Extra dry – slightly sweeter but less dry than brut. Prosecco is almost always extra dry.
- Demi-sec – the sweetest kind, best enjoyed with desserts.
This type of wine is created by adding distilled spirits into the wine, usually brandy. This technique was born out of an attempt to preserve wines. These wines are typically sweet (when the spirit is added during fermentation) although there are dry varieties too (when the spirit is added after fermentation). Fortified wines are often enjoyed with cheese, nuts, desserts, and can be used in cooking.
Dessert or Sweet Wine
As the name suggests, these wines are always sweet and usually consumed with desserts. This type of wine can be enjoyed too before a meal. It is often confused with fortified wine, but dessert wine does not have added alcohol in it.
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