Having trouble trying to differentiate between varieties of wine?Apart from color, sweetness or fizz, there are various wines based on the variety of grapes used and the region where they are produced. These factors clearly show in the character and flavor of the wine. Wine is basically an alcoholic beverage which is prepared from fermented fruits, especially grapes. When wine is prepared from other fruits besides grape, it’s called ‘fruit wine’. The process of fermentation is entirely natural and takes place without the addition of acids, enzymes or any other nutrients. The earliest production of wine dates back to thousands of years with its first appearance in Balkans around 4500 BC. Wine secures a special place in some religions, such as Christianity, while the Greek and Roman mythology have Dionysus and Bacchus respectively, as gods representing wine. The aroma of wine comes from the volatile compounds that it releases in the air. In order to enhance the vaporization of these compounds, wine must be served at room temperature. Read the following section to gather more information about the different types of wines.
Different Types of Wine
As the name suggests, these wines have a red (or blue) tint as they are prepared from black grapes. The popular names of red wine are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Beaujolais, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel. Usually, grape juice is colorless so, in order to add color to the wine, the grape skin, that contains all the pigmentation, is kept in the juice itself during the process of fermentation. This also results in the transfer of tannins from the grape skin into wine which is the chief cause of the dry, crumpling sensation in the mouth and at the back of the throat. It can also be considered as a preservation mechanism and it helps red wines age better than the white wines.
As mentioned in the above type, the red color of the wine is because of the presence of the skin of the grape in the colorless grape juice. White wines are made from the white grape varieties and do not contain any pigmentations. Here, the skin of the grapes is not allowed to come in contact with the grape juice. Depending on the type of the grapes used, their climatic conditions, soil type and moisture levels, the end taste of the wine is different. White wines range from dry to sweet with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris etc. being the major varieties.
These wines, also called ‘Blush wines’, cannot be truly called red, but they have a red tinge which clearly differentiates them from the white ones. Though they are made from black grapes, they do not turn fully red because the grape skins are removed immediately after they come in contact with the juice. Since the time of contact is less, only a minimal amount of tannins enter the wine. Most of the rose wines are sweet, examples being White Merlot and White Zinfandel.
These wines have an intense yet small amount of effervescence. Sparkling wines can be made from any variety of grapes; the bubbles are formed as a result of carbon dioxide. It is quite natural to find the carbon dioxide bubbles during the process of fermentation. Presence of these bubbles and a fizzy appearance are the main characteristics of sparkling wine. Several winemakers around the world have formulated modern techniques to trap carbon dioxide and keep it intact in the wine. Often, people mistake this wine as Champagne, whereas, there is a clear distinction between the two. In north east France, there is a region known as Champagne and white wines become Champagne only when they are made, following a strict appellate, solely from the grapes grown in the Champagne region. Cava, Champagne, Crémant d’Alsace, Moscato d’Asti and Prosecco belong to the category of popular sparkling wines.
Dessert wines are made from the sugar that is left behind after the wine is ready. These wines are considered to be the sweetest of all and have a very high amount of sugar content in them, making them a popular choice after food, as dessert. They are made sweet by employing various methods such as harvesting the grapes late to get high sugar levels.
Fortified wines are made by adding a bit of grape spirit to the wine and they usually include dry as well as sweet ones. Port wine, Madeira, Sherry are the most popular fortified wines. They have a much higher alcohol content as compared to the others which is the result of various distillation processes. Spirits are added to the wines during the fermentation process to stop the process prematurely. These wines are usually found in Europe as they can be easily transported and do not get damaged despite the long sea travel.
Apart from the above mentioned types, there are some wines which do not have specific names and are generally termed as ‘Table Wines’ or ‘Dry Wines’. Dry white wine and the dry red wine fall under this category. Often, these dry wines are used in cooking and form an important ingredient in various exotic continental recipes.
Hope this article has provided you an insight of the differences in varieties of wines. Enjoy your sip!