Understanding the basic types of wine
Wine can be categorized in many different ways, such as level of dryness, the colour, the region the grapes were grown, or which meal you would have it with. Some reds may be sweet and some whites may be dry so one type of wine of a certain type may not taste the same as the rest, but they can usually fall into general categories.
The easiest and most simple way to categorize wine is by the colour. There are red wines, white wines, and you also have sparkling and blush wines. Red wines obtain their colour and generally more bitter flavours by leaving the skins, seeds, and stems in the fermenting vat during the wine making process. Blush wine can be obtained by removing the skins early in the fermentation process.
Whites usually have a sweeter, lighter flavour while reds are more complex and robust. Sparkling wines, such as Champagne, are made fizzy through a carbonation process. Classifying wine by these categories can by quick and easy as you can tell at first glance which type you’re looking at, but it can be occasionally misleading when determining the potential flavour of a wine.
The grape varietal a wine is made with is another popular classification method. Grape varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon can give you many clues in what taste to expect from any particular wine. Darker grapes are generally used for red wines as they get their colour from the skin, but whites can be made from any colour grape because the juice within is always clear.
Sweet to Dry
While white wines are usually sweeter and reds more bitter or dry, the tastes can be reversed in some cases. Riesling and Muscat are generally lighter types of white while Chardonnay is a drier flavour. With red wine, Cabernets are drier and Merlots can be fairly sweet.
Wines with Meals
Wine can be grouped into four categories when it comes to serving with food. Aperitifs are wines you would serve as a cocktail or with an appetizer course and would usually be a sweeter variety. Dinner wines can be reds or whites and should be paired with the main course as to not overpower the meal.
Dessert wines are usually heavier, much sweeter wines that should be served as a finish to a meal or with a dessert as a nice accompaniment. Port and Sherry are both good examples of common dessert wines. Sparkling wine, such as Champagne, can also be served as an appetizer, with dinner or dessert, or on its own.
Regardless of how you classify a wine, the flavours and aromas can greatly vary and tasting a specific bottle will be the only way to get the true idea of its flavour. These categories are still useful in pointing you in the right direction when deciding on a type of wine to purchase or taste.