Wine Types Explained

Written by mandy brown
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Wine Types Explained
Red and white varieties of wine are the most popular. (white wine and red wine image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com)

While there are thousands of wine selections and brands, six major groups of wine -- white, red, rosé, dessert, sparkling/champagne and fortified -- exist. The colour, flavour and name are determined by the type of grape used, and the fermentation process. The dryness of a wine is determined by the amount of sweetness. If there is very little sugar, it is considered dry. A wine can also be light, medium or full-bodied. Light-bodied wines are easier on the palate, while full-bodied wines are weightier.

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Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is regarded as one of the finest red wines in the world according to WineIntro.com. A cabernet is full-bodied and is typically fermented in oak barrels. It is best paired with beef, lamb or goose.

Champagne

Champagne comes from a region in France of the same name. Known for its sweet and bubbly taste, champagne is typically medium-bodied and paired with light dishes or cheeses.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a white wine that is usually dry or semi-sweet. It is typically flavoured with fruit, medium to full-bodied and is best enjoyed with poultry or seafood.

Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer is a typically sweet, fruit-flavoured white wine that may carry an odour of roses. It is medium-bodied and best served with Asian food, pork or sausage.

Merlot

Merlot is medium-bodied and one of the easier red wines to drink due to its low acidity. It is typically flavoured with blackberry, plum or cherry and is best served with rich dishes such as pasta and chocolate.

Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio is a dry, light-bodied white wine. The wine can be fruity or flowery and is recommended for pairing with dishes prepared with rich sauces.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a light to medium-bodied red wine with flavours like leather, vanilla or jam. It is best served with pasta with red sauce, salmon, chicken or lean beef.

Port

Port is a fortified wine, meaning spirits have been added to allow the wine to last longer. Because of the higher alcohol content, it is not typically a dinner wine and is better suited for after dinner.

Riesling

Riesling is a light-bodied, dry white wine with an aroma of fresh apple. It goes well with oriental dishes as well as fish and chicken. You can also pair it with chocolate or it can be enjoyed alone as a dessert wine.

Rosé

Rosé wine gets its colour from red grapes, but is only exposed to the skins for a short amount of time. This results in a rose-coloured wine, sometime called blush. It can range from dry to sweet, and typically pairs well with salads or other light dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a light-bodied, refreshing wine. It is herb flavoured, with hints of fruit. It is acidic enough to cut through heavy food flavours making it ideal to pair with stews or heavy sauces but can be enjoyed with most foods.

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