Are you a newbie in the world of wines and still confused about the wine classification? If yes, you are about to end your wine dilemma forever and also, about to get really useful information about common types of wine.
The ever evolving wine has never got settled with its kind. The varieties of wine available today were not there from the very first day. So is the classification of it. However, the purpose here is to let you know the broad categorisation of wines and what that means.
In today’s world, wine styles can be classified based on several characteristics of a wine. These characteristics are of course the color, taste, year, body, and nature. When it comes to buying a bottle of wine or ordering it in a restaurant, one can always combine two or more characteristics to pick a particular choice.
Get ready to know about the different types of wines and be a Pro.
- 1 Wine Classification By Color
- 2 Wine Types By Body
- 3 Wine Classification By Nature
- 4 Wine Classification By Taste (Sweetness)
- 5 Wine Classification By Year
Wine Classification By Color
Probably the easiest and most common wine classification of all. If you are a new wine enthusiast, keep your passion and confidence high, as you are thinking it right. Red, White, and Rosé. Don’t think much about the further classification and shades of color.
Yes, the red color wine is a red wine. No rocket science about it! The most famous, most preferred, and probably the oldest type of wine ever. We don’t want to overburden you with a lot of information about the red wines in this section. So on your early path of a wine journey, all you need to know is, red wines are fermented with grape skins, seeds, and sometimes stalks. Overripe grapes are generally used for making red wines. The red color is extracted from the skin/seeds of the grapes during fermentation. There could be a lot of shades under red depending upon the harvested grape quality, fermentation process, fruit extracts, and the aging duration and style.
White wine is not really white in color. The color of a white wine ranges from light/pale straw (not the drinking straw, the agricultural one) to medium/deep yellow-gold. This color is a result of wine fermentation without grape skins or seeds. The choice of white wine grapes are also different from the red wine grapes. The harvesting time and the ripeness also play an important role in white wine color.
A wine that is neither a red wine nor a white wine. Rosé wine lies between red and white wine in terms of color. This color comes from the grape skin but the contact of juice to the grape skin is time controlled. Grape juice and the extract are left with the grape skins to absorb the color of it for a couple of days. As soon as the salmon/rose-gold color is reflected in the juice, skins are removed. Of course, the degree of ripeness plays a crucial role in making rosé wine where grapes are picked at a stage of a little less ripe than the fully/overripe red wine ones.
Also know about the orange wine.
Wine Types By Body
Let’s move towards adding some important information to your wine journey. Wine body is one of the main factors of wine classification and is mostly combined with other characteristics to pick a good choice. The body of a wine majorly defines its texture and viscosity but that’s not all. The “WINE BODY” is the combined result of its fruit extract, flavor, richness, mouth fullness, weight, tannins, dryness, alcohol content, and overall structure.
In easy words, how does your mouth feel when you sip-in the wine? If it feels full, less watery, and long-lasting complex flavors then it’s something towards full-bodied wine. On the other hand, if your mouth feels watery and lean taste, refreshing yet transient flavors, and delicate texture, you are sipping in a light-bodied wine. If the wine you are sipping in is having somewhat mid range of these characteristics, you are with a medium-bodied wine.
Light-bodied wines are smooth, crisp, and easy to drink with a lower level of tannins and bitterness. Low viscosity is one of the main factors that makes them light-bodied. Alcohol in wine makes it viscous and all light-bodied wines have alcohol under 12.5% ABV(Alcohol By Volume). Light-bodied wines are not fermented with thick grape skins (or any other wine fruit skins), seeds, or stalks, and that is also the main reason for being light-bodied.
With alcohol between 12.5% and 13.5% ABV, medium-bodied wine is for those, who love to have a little stronger light-bodied wine. With medium levels of acidity and tannins, medium-bodied wines are great to pair with moderate fat food. If you have walked a few miles on your wine journey, these medium-bodied wines are perfect for you.
With more than 13.5% alcohol by volume(ABV), Full-Bodied wines have complex and grippy structure. These wines have high tannins, bitterness, and a strong taste that lasts for a longer time than other wines. These wines are fermented with grape skins, seeds, and stalks to get the richer extract from the fruit. That is the reason when you sip-in the Full-Bodied wine, your mouth feels full and heavy. These wines also have a stronger aroma compared to light/medium-bodied wines. High fat and heavy foods are paired with full-bodied wines to absorb the tannins and the dryness of these wines. Read more about wine and food pairing fundamentals.
Wine Classification By Nature
This classification is based on the different wine preparation processes. There are a lot of styles and ingredients that can differentiate a wine from another. Here is the broad kinds of wine based on its nature.
Wines with no fizz/bubbles/Carbon dioxide (CO2). Fermentation of grapes (wine fruit) creates Carbon Dioxide and these bubbles/fizz is always there in the wine. When the final product is created by removing these bubbles, the wine is called Still Wine.
Sparkling wines are the ones when the gas from the fermentation process is not removed from the final product, or when the fizz is added artificially to the final product. Champagne is the prime example of sparkling wine
Fortified wines are produced by adding brandy (or any other type of distilled spirit) to the wines. This process was originally done to preserve the wine and to increase its shelf life. These wines have more alcohol (17-21% ABV) than any other regular wines and can be consumed before or after the food (based upon its sweetness).
When fruit-flavors, fragrances, herbs, and spices are added to a wine, it becomes Aromatized Wine. The alcohol content of this type of wine is around 15-20% ABV as the additional spirit is added during the winemaking process.
With relatively high alcohol content, sodium and some preservatives present in the wine, cooking wine is not a good one to drink. This wine is specially made for cooking. Most of the alcohol is assumed to be burnt off while cooking. Cooking wine adds wine flavours and gist to the food while salt present in the wine makes the food taste better. Do read about Marsala Wine, the famous cooking wine.
Wine Classification By Taste (Sweetness)
When it comes to classifying a wine based on its taste, it is generally judged with its sweetness. In the world of wines, the word “Dry” is used to describe sugar content. With the decreasing amount of sugar in a wine, the “Dryness” increases. Primarily there are 2 wine types based on taste, i.e. dry wine and sweet wine (sometimes called dessert wine) however, few more categories of wine like semidry and semisweet have been introduced based on sugar and alcohol levels.
A wine with no residual sugar is considered a dry wine. Though the overall taste and structure of a wine is a result of its acidity, tannins, and fruit extract level, dry wine can also have a little sweetness. Dry wine is made by letting the fermentation process convert all the natural sugar of grapes/wine fruit into alcohol. A typical dry wine would not contain more than 3% sugar.
These wines are generally produced with high sugar content grapes. The alcohol content of such wines may vary based on the fermentation process or on the fortification. These wines are often called pudding wines or dessert wines as these are generally consumed after food.
Wine Classification By Year
Not a broad yet very important of wine categories. The Vintage wine vs Non Vintage wine. Don’t get confused with the word “Vintage” as here vintage does not mean old, retro, or classic. Vintage wine bottles will have a year printed on the bottle label whereas Non Vintage wine will not have any year mentioned. Non Vintage wines generally have a mark “NV” on the label.
A vintage wine is a wine that is made out of any particular year’s harvest of grape or any other wine-fruit. The year mentioned on the wine bottle label shows the year of that particular harvest. This year does not mean when the fermentation got completed and the wine got bottled. The vintage year mentioned on a bottle of wine can help you figure out the weather conditions and the quality of grapes grown that year. This helps wine experts to judge the quality of wine as well.
Non Vintage Wine
A non-vintage wine is made by mixing the grapes from two or more different harvests from different years. These wines are blended wines and winemakers try to improve the quality of these wines by mixing them with quality vintage and by applying pretty good winemaking skills. The core idea to create such wines is to produce something which has the best of mixing regions and vintages.