Wine Types - Different Categories and Types of Wine

The long history of winemaking has produced astounding number of wine types over the ages. Combination of various species of grapes, types of soils, region of growth, taste and techniques for upbringing and fermentation have great impact to the final product. Although the most basic classification of wines can be separated into reds of whites, this article will try to describe much more detail at what possible styles can be found in the modern day.

Red Wine

Classification by Taste

  • Dry wines
  • Medium wines
  • Sweet wines

These wines can be differentiated between each other by the amounts of sugar and relative levels of alcohol (which give the drink sweet taste) of acids and tannins (which give the drink sourness).

Red Wines

Red wines are the most popular kind of modern wine. Their coloring is achieved by allowing the skin of the grapes to come to contact with its juice during the wine making process (fermentation). To create high quality red wine, winemakers must carefully balance several factors (region, climate, rain amount, soil conditions, treating of grapes after harvest, and the fermentation itself) to achieve perfect product.

Some of the most common types of red wine are:

  • Barbera - Grown in the italy'sPiedmont region and its defined by its strong acidic (dry) taste.
  • Brunello di Montalcino - One of the rarest and most expensive Italian red wines, grown in the region of Tuscany.
  • Cabernet Franc -This quality red wine is grown in the France's region of Loire Valley and recently in California and New York. Although its popularity is growing, this wine is often overshadowed by the much more popular Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon - One of the most popular red wines in the world. It was primarily grown in the Bordeaux region of France, but during the last century it managed to spread across the world. One of the factors that contributed to its popularity is its ability to age well, and presence of intense aromas and flavors.
  • Dolcetto - This popular Italian wine is known for its fruity aroma and flavor of licorice and almonds. Sadly it does not age well as some of the other wines.
  • Grenache - Originally from Rhone valley of France, this medium to full bodied wine with raspberry flavor managed successfully to spread to Span and California.
  • Merlot - Rise in popularity of this wine can be attributed to its drinkability, low acidity and mellow softness.
  • Nebbiolo - This old Italian wine is considered to be in the same quality range as their other more famous red wines. One of its defining characteristics is dryness and high acidity that is achieved through aging.
  • Pinot Noir - Delicious variations of aromas and flavors have given great popularity for this wine. Although its grapes are difficult to grow, production of this wine is located in both France and United States (California and Oregon).
  • Sangiovese - This complex wine is one of the rare ones that have never successfully been grown outside of Italy's regions of Tuscany and Chianti.
  • Zinfandel - Ability to thrive in heat and sunshine have made this popular wine one of the rare ones that can be grown almost exclusively in California. It is well known around the world for its moderate acidity and spicy flavors.

White Wines

White wines are created from the white grapes or from red ones which are fermented in such way that the juice is not allowed to come in contact with the grape skin. As with red wine, throughout the ages winemakers used the varying factors to create wide variety of white wine types. Here are some of the most famous ones:

  • Chardonnay - Without a doubt one of the most popular white wines of all time. Its ability to be grown in almost any region of world (Europe, United States, Australia, Chile, South Africa) have given the winemakers chance to make astounding amount of its variations, with great differences in flavors (fruit, nuts, butter, oak, spice or vanilla) and acidity (medium to high).
  • Chenin Blanc - This several thousand year old wine has managed to expand from France's Loire Valley to California. It is defined by its average acidity, lightness and fruitiness.
  • Gewurztraminer - This German born wine (which name translates as "spicy") is through its growth in cold environment defined by light acidity and strong flavor.
  • Pinot Grigio - This Italian wine also known as Pinot Gris in United States, is defined by its citrus aroma. It also has less acidity and more body if grown in America.
  • Riesling - The most popular white wine from Germany, which is also grown in France's Alcase region and New York state in America.
  • Sauvignon Blanc - Is today regarded as one of the most popular French white wines. It is most commonly grown in Bordeaux and Loire regions of France, California, New Zealand and South Africa.
  • Viognier - This French wine is also grown in California, and it's defined by its low to moderate acidity, and the lack of flowery aromas of other wines.
White Wine

Rose Wines

Although Rose wines have red color, they have only enough reddish tinge that makes them differentiate them from full colored Red wines. Their color and intensity greatly varies from the type of grapes that was used in their production, and most of them have orange, pink or purple colors. In the early days rose wines were made by simply adding little red wine to the white, but during years manufacturers started implementing a technique that allows limited amount of contact between grapes juice and skin.

Popularity of rose wines grows with each year because of their ability to induce feeling of crispness, lightness. Because of their refreshing taste, rose wines are often referred as "summer wines". However, their taste varies from region to region -rose wines from Europe are dry, while United States one are sweet. Without a doubt, the most popular rose wine in the world is Californian Zinfandel.

Here is list of grape types that is used in preparation of most popular rose wines:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah
  • Grenache
  • Merlot
  • Malbec
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Tempranillo
  • Sangiovese
  • Zinfandel

Sparkling Wines

Addition of large amounts of carbon dioxide into white wines creates the sparkling effect that is responsible for one of the most famous wine types in the world. Today, sparkling wines are universally called by the name Champagne, based on the most famous sparkling wine from the French region of the same name. Some of the most popular sparkling wines are:

  • Asti
  • Cap Classique
  • Cava
  • Champagne
  • Espumante
  • Franciacorta
  • Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico
  • Trento

Other Types of Wine

Here are some of the other types of wines that are also popular around the world:

  • Dessert Wines (Sweet Wine) - Created from the residual sugar form the production of normal wine. This additional sugar gives the wine very sweet taste. Some of the most popular sweet white wines are Botrytis, Ice Wine, Late Harvest, and red ones are Late Harvest Wines and Fortified Wines.
  • Fortified Wines - This type of wines are produced with a small addition of grape spirit and are often created in dry and sweet variants. Popular fortified wines are Port wine , Madeira and Sherry.
  • Table Wines - This type of wines represent the majority of the world's wine production today. Some of the most popular ones are Dry white wine, Rose wine and Dry red wine.
Champagne Wine