Types of Wines

Walk through any liquor department in the grocery store, and you will find rows and rows of wines. White wines, red wines, rose wines, dry wines, sweet wines, vintage wines, and kosher wines. The labels will say Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Zinfandel, Gamay, and Sauvignon Blanc. They will come from Bordeaux or Chablis, France; Rhine, Germany; Chianti, Italy; or Napa Valley, California. The choices are overwhelming enough to make you as dizzy as the wine. However, it is not impossible to learn about them and make a choice that is right for you.

Regional wines are named for the areas where they are grown. Most of these cultivated regions are as old as civilization itself since the development of alcohol and civilization kind of go hand in hand. These are the Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis, and Champagne regions in France; and Chianti, Tuscany, Veneto, and Alto Adige regions of Italy; along with regions in Germany, Spain, and more recently added regions in the United States and Australia. Each region contributes its own climate and soil condition to the grapes grown there, thus making wines from each region unique and an art form to the wine connoisseur

Varietal wines are named for the grapes used in them. Each variety has it's own flavor, color, and clarity. Some red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, with bold flavors and rich bouquets. Lighter red wine varieties are Pinot Noir, Syrah and Gamay. White grape varieties are the Rieslings of Germany, which can be dry, crisp or sweet depending on where they are grown; Chardonnay that is generally very crisp in taste, and Muscat that can be spicy and fruity.

Wines can also be made from most any variety of fruit. The most popular fruit wines are Apple, Blackberry, Elderberry, Strawberry, and Plum and are usually sweeter than the regional or varietals wines. Champagne and sparkling wines are carbonated either by a process induced in the bottle, or by natural fermentation. Sherry and Port are strong sweet wines that are fortified during fermentation by adding brandy to the process. Brandy is distilled wine. Vintage wines are made from grapes grown within that year.

In a day and age when there is a winery in nearly every state in the United States, and wineries all through Europe and the Mediterranean there are more choices than ever. Take the time to explore each one and enjoy one of the most ancient pastimes of the civilized world. Find the type that is right for you. Cheers!

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