All wines can be organized into five fundamental groups. Within each group there are different levels of sweetness and also different groups of flavor.
BASIC TYPES OF WINE
- Red Wine: Still wine made with black grapes. These can range from light to dark and bone-dry to sweet.
- White Wine: A still wine produced from green and sometimes black grapes. Flavors span from rich and creamy to light and zesty.
- Rosé Wine: Still wine from black grapes produced by removing the skins before they deeply color the wine. Also formed by blending red and white wine together. Both dry and sweet styles of rosé are common.
- Sparkling Wine: A style of winemaking involving a secondary fermetation causing bubbles! Sparkling wine can be red, white, or rosé and can range from minerally to rich and sweet.
- Fortified Wine: A style of winemaking involving fortifying wine with spirits. Typically a dessert wine, but many dry-style fortified wines exist, such as dry Sherry.
LEVEL OF SWEETNESS
Within the five main styles of wine are different levels of sweetness. This is a winemaking style, as most wines can be produced from Dry to Sweet.
- Dry: A dry wine is produced when all of the grape sugars are fermented into alcohol. Some dry wines may have a touch of RS to add body but not sweetness.
- Semi-Sweet: (aka Off Dry) A semi-sweet wine leaves a touch of the sugars in a wine usually to complement acidity and/or aromatics in wine. Riesling is typically Off-Dry.
- Sweet: A sweet wine leaves a lot of the sugars in a wine unfermented. Sweet wines are typically lower alcohol if they are not fortified. (ex: Moscato d’Asti 5.5% ABV)
LEARNING WINE BY FLAVOR
Wines are separated by style, primary flavor and sometimes even an additional grouping of "High Tannin", "Round" or "Spicy". Here are definitions of the terms:
- High Tannin: Wines with high tannin feel like they dry out your mouth. The sensation is similar to licking a popsicle stick or putting a wet tea bag in your mouth.
- Round: Round wines tend to have less tannin and balanced acidity on the finish. People often describe the sensation as ‘Smooth’ or ‘Lush’ when using wine descriptions.
- Spicy: Spicy wines tend to have higher acidity or higher alcohol. Imagine the tartness of cranberry juice versus the smoothness of peach juice.
Source: Wine Folly