White Wine Varietals
“The Big Eight” when it comes to white wine varietals are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc (also called Fumé Blanc), Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio, Semillon, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc.
Common White Wine Flavor Descriptions:
Red Wine Style
As with all wines, the particular winemaker will have adequate “say” in the style of wine he will produce. That said, red wines are often classified by “body-type.” For example, one might say that a certain red wine is “light-bodied” – referring to the mouth-feel and tannin structure. A light-bodied wine will have fewer tannins present and less presence on the palate. These wines tend to be less demanding partners with flavor-filled foods. An example of a light-bodied red wine would be one derived from the Gamay grape varietal, such as France’s famed young red wine: Beaujolais Nouveau. A medium-bodied red wine will contain more tannins than the above Beaujolais Nouveau, but will not have near the pucker power of a high-powered California Cabernet Sauvignon or an Italian Super Tuscan. Typical examples of medium-bodied red wines include: Merlot, Shiraz or a Chianti. Full-bodied red wines boast the highest tannin (and often alcohol) content. Prime examples of full-bodied reds are France’s esteemed Bordeaux wines, California’s key Cabs and Italy’s sizzling Super Tuscans. In general, light-bodied wines tend to “feel” more like water in the mouth. In contrast, “full-bodied” wines feel heavier, more like milk, this effect is due in large part to the higher tannin (and again, alcohol) content.
Key Red Wine Varietals
The top red wine varietals that you are likely to encounter are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Shiraz, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Grenache.
Sometimes, you will hear of red wines referred to by their popular regional names. For example, a "Bordeaux" is a red wine from France that is made primarily from three varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. Or move to ordering a wine from Italy and you will often hear of a Chianti- made from the Sangiovese grape varietal, or look at Piedmont's Barolo or Barbaresco wines (both of which hail from the Nebbiolo varietal).
Common Red Wine Flavor Descriptions: