The other night I was enjoying a glass of my favorite white when it occurred to me that I had no idea what it meant for some wines to taste different. We know there is an extensive aging process, some are white, and others are red with a few in the middle of course. Some are sweet, and others are dry—but why? I took to the internet in an effort to learn a few things. I learned there are nine main categories and how they are made, but knowledge beyond that is just outside of my scope.
The first refers to full bodied red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Frac, etc. These are made with thick-skinned dark red grapes. These types have more tannis and you can tell because there’s a dry or grip like sensation near the back of your mouth, generally associated with a higher alcohol content. They are kept in newer oak barrels and in warm places. Next is are the medium-bodied red wines like Merlot. These are lighter and can be paired with almost any foods as far as wine goes. They are made from lighter grapes with thinner skin. Lightest bodied red wines like Pinot Noir are made from even thinner-skinned grapes and have the least tannis—best paired with cheeses. A Rosé is between the reds and whites, is good for spicy food and best served cold. It’s made by allowing the wine to sit with the grape skins just long enough to get that light pink color. Sometimes rosé is made by simply mixing two wines—a red and a white. Full bodied white wines like chardonnay go well with seafood’s and poultry. They are also aged in oak except with white grapes for 3-10 years. Light bodied white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris are crispy and dry and pair well with leafy greens, and best had while young. Other white wines referred to as ‘aromative’ include Moscato and Riesling which are generally sweeter. They are made with more sugar to balance the acidity. The sweetness all depends on how it is produced.
Dessert wines are actually made by stopping the fermentation before yeasts get the chance to consume all the sugar. And so, the compromise of the sweeter wine is a lower alcohol content. Later some may choose to increase the alcohol content by adding more later. Lastly Champagnes fall under the category of sparkling wines. (which a term is technically reserved for French region called—you guessed it—Champagne). And the bubbles are a result of a second fermentation process that takes place in a steel tank or bottle.
I hope this had shed some light and you can indulge responsibly the next time you go wine tasting. If you’re looking for an extensive explanation the link is below!
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