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12 Styles of Wine: A Beginner's Guide to Understanding Wine Varieties

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Wine is a complex and diverse beverage, with a wide range of styles and varieties. Understanding the different styles of wine can be daunting for beginners, but it is an essential part of developing a palate and enjoying wine to the fullest. In this beginner's guide, we will break down the 12 styles of wine, including their characteristics, grape varieties, and suggested food pairings.


 

Light-bodied white wine

Light-bodied white wines are crisp, refreshing wines with high acidity. They are typically unoaked and made from grape varieties that thrive in cooler climates, such as Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc. They pair well with light dishes like salads, seafood, and white meats.


Aromatic white wine

Aromatic white wines are highly fragrant, with floral and fruity aromas. They are made from grape varieties such as Gewurztraminer or Torrontes, and are perfect for sipping on their own or pairing with spicy dishes.


Full-bodied white wine

Full-bodied white wines are rich and creamy, with tropical fruit and nutty flavors. Chardonnay is a classic example of a full-bodied white, but there are many other grape varieties that produce this style of wine, including Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. They pair well with rich, creamy dishes like risotto or roasted chicken.


Blush rosé

Blush rosé wines are light, refreshing wines with herbaceous and floral notes. They are made from red wine grapes with a short skin contact, resulting in their light pink color. They pair well with light, summery dishes like salads or grilled seafood.


Hot pink rosé

Hot pink rosé wines are darker in color and have more pronounced fruit flavors than blush rosés. They are made with longer skin contact and pair well with heartier dishes like grilled meats or spicy stews.


 

Skin contact wine

Skin contact wines, also known as orange wines, are white wines made with extended skin contact. They have a more complex flavor profile than traditional white wines, with bitter and astringent notes. They pair well with bold, flavorful dishes like Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine.


Light-bodied red wine

Light-bodied red wines have thin skins and are lower in tannins. They are typically made from grape varieties like Pinot Noir or Gamay, and pair well with light dishes like pasta or grilled vegetables.


Medium-bodied red wine

Medium-bodied red wines have a bit more heft than light-bodied reds, with a balance of tannins and acidity. Grape varieties like Merlot or Sangiovese produce medium-bodied reds, which pair well with heartier dishes like beef or lamb.


Full-bodied red wine

Full-bodied red wines are rich and powerful, with chewy tannins and intense flavors. They are typically made from grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, and pair well with hearty, flavorful dishes like roasted meats or strong cheeses.


 

Fortified wine

Fortified wines are made by adding extra alcohol, such as brandy, to the wine during fermentation. Port and Sherry are classic examples of fortified wines, and they pair well with rich desserts or strong cheeses.


Sparkling wine

Sparkling wines are wines with bubbles, made through a secondary fermentation process. Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco are all sparkling wines, each with their own unique characteristics and pairings.


Dessert wine

Dessert wines are sweet wines with enough acidity to balance out the sweetness. They pair well with rich, decadent desserts like chocolate cake or fruit tarts.


Understanding the different styles of wine can be a bit overwhelming at first, but with a bit of practice, you can become more confident in your wine knowledge and start to explore new varieties and food pairings. Remember, the best way to learn about wine is to taste it, so don't be afraid to try new things and experiment with different styles and varietals. Cheers!

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