Red, white, pink? Wines are colorful but what does that mean? First, you need to know that wines are from grapes. In reality, grapes come in only two basic colors. Red and white. The pinks, also called “blush” come from leaving the red skin in contact with the grape until it takes on a pink color.
To help you understand the different types of wine, you need to understand some terms. “Body” means the feel of a sip of wine in your mouth. A combination of the tannin amount, the fruit concentration and alcohol content, typically described as light, medium or full bodied. “Dry” in wine conversation refers to the opposite of sweetness. We’re not talking bitter or sour here. We’re talking about away from sweet. Wines are usually described as dry, medium dry and very dry and sweet, medium sweet and very sweet. So a dry wine is the closet to sweet and a very dry wine is the furthest from sweet.
Many varieties of red wines are produced through out the world. These are the most common.
- Beaujolais (bo-zho-LAY) A light-medium bodied wine, typically fruity and medium dry.
- Bordeaux (bore-DOE) A medium-full bodied wine, can be any level of the dry scale.
- Cabernet Sauvignon (cah-burr-NAY so-vee-NYOH) A medium-full bodied wine, that can be either dry or medium dry.
- Chianti (kee-AHN-tee) Can be full, medium, or light bodied and either dry or medium dry.
- Dolcetto (dohl-CHET-toh) A light-medium bodied wine and typically medium dry.
- Grenache (greh-NOSH) A light-medium bodied wine and either dry or medium dry.
- Merlot (mehr-LOW) Can be full, medium or light bodied and usualy dry to medium dry.
- Pinot Noir (PEE-noh nwahr) A light-medium bodied wine and any level of the dry scale.
- Shiraz (SHEER-oz) aka Syrah (see-RAH) Can be full, medium or light bodied and either dry or medium dry.
- Zinfandel (zin-fan-DELL) A medium-full bodied wine and either dry or medium dry.
These are the most common white wines produced around the world, although certainly not an all-inclusive list.
- Chardonnay (shahr-dun-NAY) A full-medium bodied wine that can be any level of the dry scale.
- Chenin Blanc (SHEH-nin blahnk) A light-medium bodied wine that can be medium dry or sweet to medium sweet.
- Gewürztraminer (geh-VERTZ-tra-MEE-ner) A full-medium bodied wine that can be medium dry or any level of sweetness. Tends to be a spicy flavor.
- Pinot Grigio (PEE-noh GREE-jee-oh) A medium-light bodied wine that is typically dry or medium dry.
- Riesling (REESE-ling) A full-medium bodied wine that can be any level of sweetness.
- Sauvignon Blanc (SOH-veen-yown blahnk) A light-medium bodied wine and dry to medium dry.
- Viognier (vee-own-YAH) Can be any level of body and any level of dry.
The term “rosé” (row-ZAY) has been used widely as a description for the wines that are pink in color. They usually represent a sweeter rather than drier wine. Wines like White Bordeaux and White Zinfandel are examples of roses.
Other Types of Wine
Under the classification wine comes sparkling wines as well. Champagne is the most well known, but there is also brut, extra dry, sec and demi-sec. Typically the body of sparkling wine is light and the dry to sweet level is from champagne (very dry) to demi-sec (sweet).
Fortified wine is available in two types: Port and Sherry. These fines are “fortified” with natural grape brandy. When the brandy is added makes the main difference between them. For Port, the brandy is added during the fermentation. This stops the fermentation in mid process and results in a sweeter wine. With Sherry, the brandy is added after the full fermentation has occurred. That means there are 5 different types of Sherry from Manzanilla and Fino, which are dry to Cream, which is sweet.