If you’ve ever looked at wine in a store or on a menu, you’ve probably realized how many different varieties there really are. But unless you’re a wine aficionado already, you may not know much about the different kinds of wine available and what each of their labels and terms means. When you find yourself trying to find the right type of wine for an upcoming event, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the options before you try to choose.
In this article, we’ll explain what the different main types of wine are and what they mean. From there, you should be able to narrow down your choices and find the perfect fit in no time.
This is a light type of white wine that often has a slightly grassy taste to it. Some people feel that it tastes a little bit like a bell pepper as well. The wine tends to have a green apple and pear flavor, and it may have a little bit of a smoky note here and there as well. Most of the time, this wine comes from the Bordeaux part of France, where it comes from originally. However, other areas—especially New Zealand—are known for making good sauvignon blanc as well.
Although chardonnay isn’t quite as popular as it was a few decades ago, it is still one of the go-to white wine options for lighter meals of fish and seafood. This type of wine comes from Burgundy in France, although it can be produced almost anywhere because of its versatility in different climates. This wine has a full, rich body and is quite dry. It has a little bit of creaminess as well as a citrus tone and may have an almost buttery element to the taste.
Riesling is the lightest and sweetest type of white wine, although there are dry Rieslings available as well. This wine originally comes form Germany, but there are several types of quality Rieslings produced in the United States. These wines may have different flavors and textures but are more or less the same. Regardless, some wine fans feel those made in California aren’t as full and flavorful as others. This wine tends to have an apple flavor and a fresh, crisp overall taste with some elements of local, regional ingredients in some instances, too.
Many wine fans consider pinot noir to be the pinnacle of red wines, particularly because it’s hard to grow and produce correctly. This wine comes from France, but delicious pinot noir may also come from Austria, New Zealand, and even parts of the eastern United States. This wine often tastes like strawberry and plum with hints of leather and earth along with some delicate undertones. This type of wine changes in flavor drastically depending on where it comes from.
Cabernet sauvignon is the favorite wine of many people. It can grow anywhere red wine grapes can grow, and California makes some of the best varieties on the market currently. This type of wine has a very full flavor and an almost spicy undertone on the finish. It tastes a bit like currant and bell pepper in some instances as well. Some versions may taste like vanilla here and there, but this comes from the production and storage process rather than from the wine and its ingredients. When this wine tastes like vanilla, it can be overpowering and ruin the taste of the wine itself in some instances.
Many new wine fans ease into drinking red wine with merlot because of it smooth and simple flavor. This type of wine is great for sipping along with almost any type of meal or snack, and it continues to be a favorite for parties where foods will vary or wine preferences may not all be in agreement. This type of wine was originally grown in France, but many delicious versions also come from California and Australia, among other locations. The wine tends to taste like black cherry and may have some hints of darker flavors such as chocolate or plum, depending on the individual wine in question.
Syrah (also spelled Shiraz depending on type and location) comes in many different flavors. This type of wine often tastes like blackberry and blackcurrant, but it may also have a meaty or peppery overtone in many instances. The taste of alcohol is often strong in this type of wine as well, and it may sometimes have a toffee undertone due to the oak barrel storage it undergoes. Wines that are labeled as Shiraz instead of Syrah tend to be heartier and spicier, and they may pair better with red meats. This type of wine comes form California, France, and Australia.
As an honorable mention, red blend wine tends to go over well with newcomers to the wine scene. This is a type of wine made in the United States and is more or less just what it sounds like: a wine that is made from blending different wine grapes to create a unique, standalone flavor. Some winemakers do this to save money and prevent wasting their grapes, while others do it to make a flavor that can be associated with their brand and label. This is also often done to make a variety of wines more drinkable and palatable to those who may be pickier about their wine flavors.
Rose is a pink wine that is made by allowing just the skins of red wine grapes to touch the wine during the production process. The result is a very sweet, fruity, dessert wine that pairs well with sweets.
Do you feel a little more educated on the topic of wine varieties now? It can take a little time to get used to the different styles available, and even more time to sample different options and find the one you like the taste of the best. The more you learn about wine varieties, the more prepared you’ll be to pick the perfect pairing for your next dinner, party, or celebration. Keep all this in mind the next time you go shopping for wine!