Varieties of Wine
There are countless varieties of wine in the world. Different
varietals, blends, fortified wines, still wines and sparkling wines; dry
wines and sweet wines. This section offers a concise overview of the
varieties you're most likely to encounter.
As the name implies, dessert wines are a tasty way to end a meal. Sauternes,
Tokajs and ice wines are among the favorites you'll enjoy.
Port & Sherry
The old saw "any port in a storm" just doesn't work anymore. Here you'll learn
about the different ports and a little about Sherry as well.
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Think pink when you think Rosé wines. Crisp, light and refreshing, rosé wines
are wonderful for picnics and other outdoor occasions.
Sparkling wine, Champagne, Cava, Spumante... Everyone loves bubbly, the
world's celebration wine.
From hearty Burgundies to playful Oregon Pinot Noirs, you'll want to get at least
passingly familiar with red wine basics -- there's so much to know.
There's plenty to learn about white wine as well. There's a lot more to it that
just "white goes with fish."
Terms to Remember
The word "varieties" is used, as the title of this volume, very loosely. It shouldn't
be confused with the technical wine term "varietal" (see below), nor with "grape
variety," which is a specific type of grape There are three basic designations for
specific types of wine to keep in mind:
A geographical term that identifies where the grapes for a wine are grown. The
rules that govern appellations vary from country to country. Bordeaux is an
example of a French wine appellation. Wine designated according to
appellation may be produced from blends of different grapes or sold as
A wine made from more than one variety of grape, or which all the grapes used
are blended more or less in balance. In fact, many wines sold as varietals,
particularly those from the U.S., actually have small amounts of other types of
grapes in them (see below).
A wine made from a single, named grape variety. For example "Chardonnay" is
a grape variety that may either be blended with other grapes to make a wine or
it can made into a wine by itself. If Chardonnay grapes are made into a wine
unblended, or with only small amounts of other grape varieties, and sold under
the name "Chardonnay," then it is a termed a varietal.
To complicate matters further, different countries have different rules regarding
what percentage of the wine must come from the named grape variety before it
can be called a "varietal." In the U.S., the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and
Firearms insists on 75 percent (51 percent for Concord and other native
American varieties, for some reason). But the State of Oregon says it's got to
be 95 percent. Germany meanwhile, demands 100 percent, and France
doesn't really care, because most of their wines are blended, anyway. They're
much more concerned with Appellation (see above), believing location and
growing conditions a more important factor than variety.
Wine knowledge for the wine novice
For a complete list
of tasting and other
terms, see the