Types of Wine: The Basics

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. There is clearly room for more wine.” – Anonymous

If you do a quick Google search for quotes about wine, thousands come up and for good reason! Wine has been a beloved nectar amongst people for hundreds of years. Whether you use it for cooking or consumption, there are different varieties and types of wine to think about. What food goes well with each type of wine? Having a background knowledge of wine will help when you plan out your menu and can help servers suggest wines to go with their meal.

Basic Types of Wine

Each wine has a backstory that makes up the differences in taste and color. Where the grapes were grown, what region of the country it grew in and what the climate was all makeup the flavors and aromas. Wine comes in a wide variety of styles, but we’re just going to talk about the eight basic types between white and red.

White Wines

Photo credit: eflon / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: eflon / Foter / CC BY

Riesling: You’ll find the best Riesling wines coming from Germany, France, New York, Washington State and parts of Australia. This wine is crisp and clean, with hints of green apple, pear and sometimes even lime flavors. The more a Riesling ages, the more honey flavors it exudes.

Food Pairings: Poultry and pork, along with spicy and Thai food

Pinot Gris: The taste of this wine depends on the grape and where it was grown. In France, Oregon and New Zealand this wine is usually rich with some spice. The Italian style, that’s known by the name of Pinot Grigio, is more fresh and crisp.

Food Pairings: Seafood, pasta, poultry and vegetarian food

Chardonnay: A Chardonnay grape is extremely versatile because the flavors depend on where it’s grown and how it’s made. Flavors range from apple and lime in cooler climates to more tropical fruits in warmer areas. If a Chardonnay is aged in an oak barrel, it takes on richer flavors with notes of honey and butter. If it’s aged in a stainless steel barrel, it has a mineral flavor with fresh notes.

Food Pairings: Favorite with seafood. Mineral versions pair well with oysters.

Sauvignon Blanc: This wine is known for being crisp and fresh. Sauvignon Blanc’s usually have notes of grapefruit and grassy flavors. France and New Zealand are prime regions for great a Sauvignon Blanc.

Food Pairings: Extremely food-friendly wine that pairs well with seafood, pasta and vegetable dishes.

White Wine Glasses

The bowl of a white wine glass will be more upright than a glass made for red wines. White wines are meant to be served cold, so this type of glass can maintain a cooler temperature as well as release its aromas.

Red Wines

Pinot Noir: This delicate red wine has notes of red fruits, like cherries, raspberries and strawberries. The Pinot Noir grape is actually really difficult to grow, but does well in Oregon, New Zealand and the cooler areas of California. As a Pinot Noir ages, the flavors and aromas become more complex.

Food Pairings: Poultry, salmon, meat and vegetable dishes

Merlot: Merlot is a soft red wine that has flavors of plums, blackberries and even mint and chocolate in some variations. Merlots don’t take as long and are ready to drink earlier than their counterpart Cabernet Sauvignons. Merlots do well in the old world, Europe and the new world such as California, Chile and Washington State.

Food Pairings: Meat dishes, such as beef and lamb

Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabs are more assertive than Merlots, and have more tannins and aging potential. You’ll find notes of blackberries, plums and black currants. Cabernet Sauvignons are normally aged in oak barrels, and take on flavors of vanilla, cedar, chocolate and coffee. Cabs do well in Napa Valley, California, Washington State, Chile and Australia.

Food Pairings: Meat dishes, such as beef and lamb

Syrah: This wine is produced primarily in France, where the grapes create Syrah’s that are spicy, rich, dark and delicious. Syrahs are great for aging, and develop more complex flavors the longer they age. A Shiraz is the Australian version of a Syrah, and has big, bold spicy flavors along with fruit aromas.

Food Pairings: Pairs well with a variety of foods. Perfect with grilled meats.

Red Wine Glasses

Red wine glasses are typically fuller and rounder with a larger opening than you would see in a white wine glass. The large opening allows your nose to detect aromas better. The big bowl creates a larger surface area for the red wine to get in contact with more air, resulting in more aromas and flavors.

Wine Not Shop Central?

There are dozens of different varieties of wines, so this is just the tip of the wine bottle! If you’re in need of wine glasses (both white, red and everything in between!), click here. Central also carries the perfect accessories for every wine connoisseur.

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