The ancients used to call wine the “drink of the Gods.” Wine is a sophisticated, yet popular beverage, enjoyed by many people around the world. More than one-third of Americans drink wine on a regular basis. Global centers of wine making traditionally include France, Spain, and Italy. The United States is a renowned power player in the industry. Emerging regions are represented by Argentina, New Zealand, and Russia.
Whether you prefer to drink boxed Chardonnay while watching Netflix or visit wine tasting classes hoping to become a true connoisseur, knowing basic wine flavors is useful.
Classic white wines are made from green grapes that have colorless juice. Before the fermentation process begins, grape skins are removed completely. Whites lack tannins, the compounds that make red wine bitter. They range from dry to sweet. The two most important attributes for describing this type of wine are acidity and aroma.
Popular white wine types:
- Riesling is a single grape variety with a flowery bouquet and a spicy taste.
- Chardonnay is a sophisticated dry wine with an oaky taste and fruity back-end notes.
- Pinot Grigio (Italy) or Pinot Gris (France) is a slightly spicy wine with a neutral profile that can be used in cooking.
- Chenin blanc is a highly acidic, apple-flavored variety that goes well with most meals and desserts.
- Sauvignon blanc is a wine with strong herbal notes and a high acid profile that makes a great aperitif.
- Moscato is a beverage made from muscat grapes and has a sweet, musky taste.
White wines are served in a tall glass. They are best paired with such foods as white bread, creamy cheese, salads, fish, crabs, lobsters, and poultry. White wine is often used in cooking and making punch or sangria.
The making of red and white wine is similar with one exception. To make reds, grape seeds and grape skins are added for fermentation, which then takes place at a higher temperature. A high fermentation temperature allows red wine to get its famous color and high tannin content. Some wines of this type are slightly reddish, others range from brown to deep violet. Flavors can be anything between sweet and extra dry.
Popular red wines types:
- Cabernet Sauvignon is the go-to red wine with high tannin content and notes of black currant and spices.
- Pinot Noir is a dry variety with berry flavors and cedar shavings.
- Merlots have spicy herbal notes and a fruity aroma.
- Syrah (Shiraz) is a popular full-bodied variety with dark fruit flavors.
Red wines are served in a big bowl glass. They are best paired with vegetables, sharp cheese, poultry, smoked meat, hamburgers, and steaks. The classic approach is to serve reds at room temperature, though some people prefer to drink them slightly chilled.
There are two ways to make rose: by fermenting black grapes for a reduced time or blending together white and red wine. It is a festive beverage with a bright pink tone and a variety of sweet fruity flavors, ranging from melon to strawberry. Rose has less tannin than red wine. It goes well with fruit, poultry, or chocolate. Rose is served in a bowl-shaped glass.
Dessert or Sweet Wine
To get the label of dessert wine, the beverage should be sweet and have a lower percentage of alcohol content. The fermentation process of dessert wines is stopped before wine yeasts consume all sugar. Dessert wine is served in a shot, small glass. It is most often paired with desserts and occasionally with soft cheese and smoked meat. Dessert wines can be used as an aperitif and are often fortified to increase the percentage of alcohol.
Sparkling wine is better known under its regional names like Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, or Asti. These wines are produced from all kinds of grapes and can be white, red, or rose. They also range from dry to sweet. Sparkling wine is distinguished by its high acidity often masked with sugar. It is produced in a two-stage fermentation process, which includes natural carbonation. Sparkling wine is served chilled in a slender flute glass to retain bubbles. It is the ultimate drink of celebration.