From the wine novice to merlot aficionados - follow along to learn more about various wine types or to simply up your conversation game at the next happy hour.
What are the 4 main types of wine?
One of the main beauties of wine is her diversity. Wherever life takes you – winter nights filled with hearty soup or summer nights spent dancing, there is a wine varietal fit for the cause.
Like the name suggests, white wine is pale in color. Made from peeled red and black grapes, white wine pairs well with light flavors like fish, chicken, and soft cheese. Though white wine is often associated with citrusy and fresh flavor profiles, it can also be spicy, sweet, and rich. Hotel Chocolat explains, “a process called malolactic fermentation can be used, which converts the tart malic acid in white wine to softer lactic acid, giving the wine a buttery or creamy taste and aroma.”
The most common types of white wine are (in order from light & sweet to dry & rich): Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
Unlike white wine, red wine is made from not only grapes, but also grape skins and seeds. Fermented at a higher temperature than white wine, red wine has a stronger aroma, flavor profile, and higher tannin levels.
Red wine has a strong, varied flavor profile. Ranging from light and fruity to rich and spicy, red wine is paired with robust flavors like meat, dark chocolate, and hard cheese.
The most common types of red wine are (in order from fruity to bold): Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
This pink-hued wine has gained popularity over the years for its “cute factor”, but its bright, fruity taste makes it the perfect summer sipper. Think of rosé as red wine’s younger, not-so-serious sister. As this piece by Hotel Chocolat notes, rosé is made with the same black grapes as red wine. However, the skins only remain in the juice for a few hours (generally 12-36) until the desired color is achieved.
Pair rosé with summer-esque light bites like brie and honey, salmon and pesto, or hummus and flatbread.
Dessert + Sparkling
Higher in sugar content (the best things always are), dessert wines are made differently than the traditional white or red. Spirit company Bev explains, “Winemakers stop the fermentation process before yeast converts all of the grape sugars into alcohol. This leaves a rich wine that is sweetened with natural grape sugars.” To take it a step further, sparkling wine goes through two fermentations to create the bubbles... because she’s boujee like that.
Dessert wines come in many variations. The most common types are: sparkling dessert wine, lightly-sweet dessert wine, richly sweet dessert wine, sweet red wine, and fortified wine.
You can’t spell party without champagne. Pair dessert or sparkling wines with a sweet treat and a celebratory “cheers”!
Tips for Your Wine Journey
As you explore wine varietals, we recommend tracking your experience in a journal. A wine tasting journal is a great tool to help you identify which wine(s) suit you by tracking smell, taste, region information, sweetness levels, and more.
Pair wine education with a well-deserved staycation. Visit local wineries or wine bars in your area and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The wine community is full of enthusiasts eager to share their knowledge and recommendations.