Classification of Wines

As we all may have noticed, there are several different types of wine that are white, red, or even other types that are rose’, or sparkling, table wines… and all these classifications make us so confused in terms of understanding our preferences, the differences between the wines, and at which occasion we are supposed to drink them. Beyond this, the classification of wine can be done through various methods that range from their place of origin, vinification methods, sweetness, and their means of use. So we have plenty of reasons to be lost in the wine world since there is so much information that we need to address in order to understand it. But don’t feel scared, unmotivated and give up on reading this blog! 🙂 I am going to try to explain in a more didactic way on how these classifications are done, and hopefully this post will give you a better understanding of the different types of wine.

So I would like to use this post to talk about 4 different types of classifications: by vinification method or wine style, taste, vintage,  and quality.

When we classify wine by vinification method or wine style, we will be considering whether the wine has had contact with the grape skin or not, or had sparkles added to the wine, or even addition of another spirit. In this case we can classify them into red wines, which are made from red or black grapes, and the skin of those grapes is left in contact with the juice during the fermentation; the white wines are made from any color of grapes since the skin is separated from the juice during fermentation, but they are generally done using “white” grapes; rose wine is a mixture of red and white wines blended together; champagne and other sparkling wines are made with the addition of carbon dioxide during the fermentation or afterwards; fortified wines are alcoholically stronger since they are made with an addition of a spirit, such as Brandy; desert wines are normally sweeter than the others.

When we classify the wine by taste, we will be noticing the different tastes each wine has. In this case, they can be dry, fruity, sweet, spicy, and this is associated with the different compounds winemakers add to the juice. Bellow I will show you the different compounds of the most popular types of wine:

Red grapes

    • Cabernet Franc: tobacco, green bell pepper, raspberry, new-mown grass.
    • Cabernet Sauvignon: blackcurrants, chocolate, mint, tobacco.
    • Merlot: black cherry, plums, pepper, coffee.
    • Mourvèdre: thyme, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, violet, blackberry.
  • Petite Sirah (Durif): earthy, black pepper, dark fruits.
  • Pinot Noir: raspberry, cherry, violets, “farmyard” (with age), truffles.
  • Pinotage: banana, bramble fruits.
  • Sangiovese: herbs, black cherry, leathery, earthy.
  • Syrah (Shiraz): tobacco, black pepper, blackberry, smoke.
  • Zinfandel: black cherry, pepper, mixed spices, mint.s improve in flavor as they

White grapes

  • Chardonnay: butter, melon, apple, pineapple, vanilla (if oaked, i.e. vinified in new oak aging barrels)
  • Chenin Blanc: wet wood, beeswax, honey, apple, almond.
  • Riesling: citrus fruits, peach, honey.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: gooseberry, lime, asparagus, cut grass, bell pepper.
  • Sémillon: honey, orange, lime.
  • Viognier: peach, pear, nutmeg, apricot.

Furthermore, when we classify the wine by vintage, we are taking into consideration the year in which the grapes were harvested. Based on the assumption that wines improve in flavor as they age, we can see that superior vintages from reputable producers can become very costly. We should also notice that not every wine age well and so they are supposed to be drunk immediately, such as White Zinfandel or Champagne.

Finally, when we classify the wine in terms of their quality, we will consider how rare or premium they are. Exclusive wines comes from the best winemaking regions of the world, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy or Port.

This website can give you a good idea of wine classification by regions and types.

I hope this summarizes  your general assumptions about wine classifications. I know it can be overwhelming to learn all the regions and types of wines. But an advice I can give you is, when you try different bottles, make sure to pay attention to its origins, year, compounds, and that will help you foster your learning about its classifications.


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