There are basically six types of wines with various styles within each of the types:

Red Wines

Amazingly, most all grapes produce white juice. Red wines are produced by leaving the skin of the purple grapes in with the juice for some period of time as it ferments. This contact of the grape skin with the grape juice produces the color of the wine, ranging from light pink rosé to the deep red wines.

These are dark in color and have bold dark fruit flavors.  These typically have stronger tannins from the seed, skins and oak aging, as well as higher alcohol levels. In general, darker grapes produce bolder wines with greater flavors.

Full bodied red wines include Aglianico, Cabernet Sauvignon, Dolcetto, Malbec, Monastrell, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, Nero d'Avola, Petite Sirah, Sagrantino, Syrah, Tannant, and Tempranillo. 

Medium bodied red wines include Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cote du Rhone blends, Grenache, Merlot, Super Tuscan blends,  Valpolicella and Zinfandel.

These tend to be lighter in tannin, lower in alcohol and have bright acidity and fruit flavors.

Light bodied red wines include Cinsault, Gamay (used in the production of Beaujolais Nouveau) and Pinot Noir.

White Wines

White wines are generally produced from white grapes, although some grapes, such as Gewurztraminer and Muscat, come from red grapes.  But, unlike the red wines, the white wines get little or no exposure to the skin of the grape during the fermentation process.

These are going to have bigger, fuller flavors than those of the light bodied whites, contain a bit more alcohol and may be aged in oak.

Examples of medium bodied white wines include un-oaked Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Grüner Veltliner, Sémillon, Marsanne, and Viognier.

A good example of a full bodied white would be an oaked Chardonnay that is rich and bold in flavor.

Fruity White Wines

These have fresh fruit flavor of citrus, with higher acidity levels.

Includes Albarino, Un-Oaked Chardonnay (known as Chablis in France), Pinot Gris/Grigio, Riesling (Dry), Sauvignon Blanc (a.k.a. Sancerre or Pouilly Fumè), Verdicchio, Verdejo and Vermentino

Light and Sweet White Wines

Includes Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Blanc, Muller-Thrugan, Riesling and Torrontes

  • Sweet White Wines (also see Dessert Wines)

Includes Ice Wine, Late Harvest, Madeira, Sherry and White Port

  • White Wine Blends

Rosé Wines

Rosé wine are most often made from red wine grapes except they are given limited exposure to the skins during fermentation.  Rosé tends to be more like white wines being light, fruity and higher in acidity.

Common grapes usedto make rosés include Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdreand Pinot Noir.

Sparkling Wines

When most people think of sparkling wine they think of Champagne. And yes, Champagne is a sparkling wine. It just so happens that Champagne is a sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. No other sparkling wines can call themselves Champagne. But, there are lots of great sparkling wines produced around the world.

Carbon dioxide is what differentiates wine from sparkling wine.  Just like with soda pop, carbon dioxide 'carbonates' the wine.  But, unlike sodas, the carbon dioxide is produced during a secondary fermentation, either in the bottle (Methode Traditionnelle) or in stainless steel tanks (Charmat Method) just before bottling.

  • Champagne - Sparkling wines that are produced in the Champagne region of France

  • Cava - Produced in Spain

  • Prosecco - Produced in Italy

  • Asti Spumante - Produced in Italy

  • Sparkling Wines - All other sparkling wines produced outside of the Champagne region of France

Dessert Wines

  • Sparkling Dessert Wines

Sweeter sparkling wines are labeled Dry (17-35 gm/liter Residual Sugar) , Demi Sec (35-50 gm/liter Residual Sugar), Doux (50+ gm/liter Residual Sugar)

Includes Asti Spumante, Moscato d'Asti, Sparking Gewurztraminer, Demi Sec Riesling, Demi Sec Chenin Blanc and Sparkling Rosés

  • Lightly Sweet Dessert Wines

These lightly sweet white wines make nice after meal drinks.  These include Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Chenin Blanc, Viognier an Moscatel

  • Richly Sweet Dessert Wines

Includes Ice Wines, Late Harvest Wines, Muscat, Noble Rot, Sauterns, Sweet Riesling and Sweet Gewurztraminer.

  • Sweet Red Wines

Sweet red wines include Brachetto d' Acqui, Freisa, Lambrusco, Recioto della Valpolicella, Schiava,

Also included in this category are Late Harvest wines. These are made from grapes that are picked very late in the harvest. These grapes have the highest sugar content and, with halted fermentation, result in very sweet, rich wines.

Fortified Wines

Fortified wine is wine to which additional alcohol has been added. And its origin comes from the days when wine spent considerable time being shipped at sea. It was found that adding additional alcohol to the wine acted as a preservative, allowing the wine stay fresher longer. 

Examples of fortified wines include:

 

Other Wines

  • What is a Sacramental Wine?