All wines can be organized into five fundamental groups. Within each group there are hundreds of different grape varieties and also different winemaking styles.
Still wine made with black grapes.
These can range from light to dark and bone-dry to sweet.
A still wine produced from green and sometimes black grapes.
Flavors span from rich and creamy to light and zesty.
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.
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.
A style of winemaking involving fortifying wine with spirits.
Typically a dessert wine, but many dry-style fortified wines exist, such as dry Sherry.
Within the five main styles of wine are different levels of sweetness. This is a winemaking style, as most wines can be produced rom 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. 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. 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)
There are thousands of different varietals, regions and types of wine. Because of wine's diversity, it is easier to start classifying wine by the way it tastes. Wine sommeliers identify wines through primary fruit flavors. You can too! Learn how to taste wine like a pro and to identify the basic characteristics of wine. These two techniques will build your wine memory.
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:
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 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 wines tend to have higher acidity or higher alcohol. Imagine the tartness of cranberry juice versus the smoothness of peach juice.