The different styles of wine
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Someone asked me if I could write about the different styles/types of wine, and I told them that very few people out there could actually attempt that feat; okay, a master sommelier or a very knowledgeable sommelier could do that justice, but since there are so many types of wines out there, with old grape varieties once thought extinct being brought back into the fold, no one person knows everything. But letís talk about the major types, and not styles of wine.
On my site, I have wine broken down into whites (and white blends), reds (and red blends), blush/rosť wines, dessert wines, fruit wines, and sparkling wines. In these basic categories of wine, you have wines that fit into more than one category, and then you have wines that are traditionally served at different times during the meal.
The beauty of white winesÖ
White wines usually contains floral, citrus, tropical, petrol, grassy and mineral smells and flavors, making them easily palatable by most drinkers.
While white wines are traditionally lighter in taste and body (weight), the same cannot be said for their complexity. Old Fartís Wife makes a nice heavy Chardonnay and Christine Andrews has a nice Viognier (a grape that is really making inroads into the American market, and this one is the best viognier that I have ever had). Caymus Conundrum is an interesting meritage (mix) of three white grapes, and it has both a full body, a nice complexity, and a great taste; this wine is to be imbibed when you choose to step up your wine game.
White wines are also not known to be traditionally dry, but with grapes like sancerre and event a pinot gris/grigio, there are producers that can turn out a dry white.
The beauty of white wine is that depending upon the grape, where and how it was grown, the age of the vines, the style of production, the method of aging, and a couple other factors, you can produce a variety of tastes from the same grape variety. Chardonnay can be totally different depending upon the barrels it was fermented and stored/aged in; French Oak and American Oak import a buttery taste and feel to the wine at a certain point, while aging in steel gives a more clean taste. Sauvignon blanc is also a noble grape that can vary greatly in taste; itís wine that I didnít really love until I had a nice glass from Kim Crawford (Australia).
And the funny thing about sauvignon blanc is that at a certain point, and a bad run of it, Americans fell out of love with it, so Robert Mondavi came out with a wine called Fume Blanc that they did loveÖ it was just sauvignon blanc. Vouvray is simply Chenin Blanc, and Pouilly-Fuissť is just Chardonnay, while Pouilly-Fumť is Sauvignon Blanc.
And for the most part, each country has an interesting white grape that they produce, with many of the grape varieties having been imported from other places. Gamay is from France, Gruner Veltliner from Austria, Gewurztraminer from Austria [even though itís really from Italy], Vermentino from Sardinia, and the list goes on and on.
Mediterranean whites as well as white from the south of France seem to be best for sitting on the beach, or on the waves while lounging on a boat, preferably a yacht or a large sailboat. Central European whites are great for all types of weather, and German whites are great with their sausages (Shout out to Joe Brandolo at Winebow). American, Australian and South American whites are normally great for all around imbibing.
White grapes are also great for sparkling wine, as many a bubbly is made from the chardonnay grape, but I have also had an interesting bubbly from the chenin blanc grape.
Airen, Albarino, Bordeaux Blends (White), Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Erbaluce, Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Muller Thurgau, Muscadet, Muscat, Niagara, Noah, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris/Grigio, Rhone Blends, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
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