There are thousands of different wines in the world, but all wines are classified into different types of wine. The wine types are classified by a variety of factors that are involved in the process of making it. However, when picking a wine to drink or to pair with food it can be difficult because there are just so many. Here is a guide to the most popular types of wine to aid with choosing them.
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in many regions, but in the Bordeaux region of France it considered king of the red wines. This wine is complex. It is fruity but dry with complex flavors of cherry and raspberry. It has a nice full body and relatively high acidity. What really makes Cabernet Sauvignon so special is how intense the flavors and aromas are, especially when aged.
Grenache is most notable grown in the Rhone valley in France but has since spread to Spain and California. Grenache is a low acidity red that is very drinkable. because of this it is a popular wine to mix with other wines, but is perfectly good to drink by itself. Grenache is full bodied and often comes with very distinct raspberry flavors. It pairs well with beef and poultry dishes.
Merlot is one of the most popular red wines in many circles. Because of the mellowness of the flavor and low acidity, it it very drinkable attracting all sorts of wine fans. It can stand alone, but is sometimes blended with a nice cabernet. Merlot has very rich fruity flavors of cherry, blackberry and plums. Merlot goes well with anything that traditionally pairs with a red wine like beef, strong cheese, tomato based dishes, but it also goes great with chocolate.
The pinot Noir is primarily grown in the Burgundy region of France, but can be found in the cooler regions of California. It is a particularly hard grape to grow, but when they do grow it correctly it yields a delicate taste with explosively complex flavors of fruits like strawberries and cherry. This makes it prized by many wine aficionados. The Pinot Noir pairs well with beef, pork, tomato dishes and strong cheeses.
Shiraz or Syrah
This red is known as Shiraz in Australia and South Africa, but is known as Syrah in California and France. Like Pinot Grigio/Gris, the difference is in the acidity. The Syrah is of a lower acidity than moderate acidity of Shiraz. Both have flavors of blueberry and blackberry with just a hint of spiciness. While Shiraz/Syrah pairs well with beef and other game it also accompanies well to seafood, especially when it is prepared with tomato sauce.
Tempranillo is a full bodied red from Spain that is often blended with Grenache. It has high tannins with flavors of cherries and raspberries. Tempranillo pairs well with a variety of foods, making it a very versatile red wine. I have found it goes best with dishes with robust flavors like Moroccan or Indian food.
Zinfandel is almost always grown in California because the grapes thrive in heat and the sunshine. It has a low acidity with nice flavors of jams and spice. It is a fruity red wine with flavors of strawberry and cherry. It pairs well with beef, strong cheese and red pasta sauces.
Chardonnay is one of the most recognized white wines in the world, and is grown in almost every "wine region". However, the grape used to make Chardonnay is very versatile and reflects heavily on the region and process in which it is made. Because of this, the flavors can be very complex. Chardonnay is primarily a dry wine with nutty flavors as well as oak and vanilla with moderate acidity. It pairs well with strong cheese and seafood.
The Chenin Blanc has been grown in the Loire region of France for thousands of years, but has found its way to many vineyards in California. The Chenin Blanc is a sweet wine with light and sweet flavors. It is a complex wine making the flavors hard to define, but it does have a high acidity. It pairs well with strong and mild cheeses, shellfish and poultry.
Gewurztraminer is a German white that translated into something similar to 'spiced grapes'. This wine is a sweet wine, though you can find it with drier flavors. Because of its name you can expect a bit of spice to each bottle, however it is has complex flavors and aromas of flowers, apricots, and peaches. It goes well with mild cheeses, pork, and poultry. Because of the light spice, it highly compliments Asian dishes with lime and ginger.
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris
Known as Pinot Grigio in Europe but called Pinot Gris in the United States. They are actually different in two factors based on where they are grown. The Pinot Grigio is more acidic, but with less body while the Pinot Gris is the exact opposite. However, both are dry and have the same flavors of light citrus and lemon. These wines pair with all kinds of seafood, especially clams.
Riesling is a popular German wine. It can have a high acidity but it is also a very sweet wine. It has heavy flavors of fruits and honey. A cheap Riesling may be sharp but a well aged one will be sweet and very complex. Because of the acidity, this wine is friend to many foods including Asia cuisine, pork, chicken, fish, and shrimp.
Sauvignon Blanc is a popular white grown in the regions of Bordeaux and Loire in France, but also in California, South Africa, and New Zealand. It is crisp with only a light acidity. The wine is dry and very earthy, sometimes with hints of fruitiness. Sauvignon Blanc goes well with almost all seafood, both strong and mild cheeses and poultry.
Semillon is a unique white wine as it is a very rich wine typically served as a dessert wine. It is a wine that you rarely find unmixed, it is frequently blended with Sauvignon Blanc. It is a dry wine with a light flowery flavor and aroma.