Selecting a bottle of wine can seem nearly impossible when you're at the liquor store, in the grocery store, local market or at a restaurant. There are so many choices, like picking red or white, choosing the type of wine, selecting the year, and pairing the wine with food. Luckily, there are some basic rules that can help you select a bottle of wine for any occasion, for any purpose, and to go with any food.

The basic 9 styles of wine are:

  • Sparkling Wine
  • Light-Bodied White Wine
  • Full-Bodied White Wine
  • Aromatic (sweet) White Wine
  • Rosé Wine
  • Light-Bodied Red Wine
  • Medium-Bodied Red Wine
  • Full-Bodied Red Wine
  • Dessert Wine

Sparkling Wine

If you already love sparkling wine, give yourself a pat on the back for your exquisite taste. This wine first came about in France and is synonymous with the region of Champagne. Despite the lowly appeal of many grocery store options (e.g. Cook’s), sparkling wines are the most technically challenging and time intensive wines made in the world.

Light-Bodied White Wine

These light easy-drinking dry white wines are some of the most-sold wines in the world (even if red wines get more attention). Light whites are like the “beer of wine” and, for this reason, they are perfect to drink with most foods. Some of these wines are perfect for savory lovers (like Sauv. Blanc and Grüner) with green herbal flavors of gooseberry and bell pepper.

Full-Bodied White Wine

Full-bodied white wines are perfect for red wine lovers because of their rich smooth taste with subtle creaminess. What makes them different than light white wines usually involves special winemaking techniques including the use of oak-aging, (just like aged whiskeys, wine becomes smoother with barrel aging too).

Aromatic (sweet) White Wine

Aromatic grapes are some of the oldest wine varieties in the world. In fact, Cleopatra is noted for her love of Muscat of Alexandria from Greece–a lovely rich aromatic white wine. These wines have explosive, almost perfumed, aromas that spring out of the glass into your nose. They can be either dry or sweet, but most will taste a touch sweet due to all those perfume aromas.

Rosé Wine

Rosé is a true winemaker’s wine because it’s made by “dying” a wine for only a short time with the skins of red wine grapes. Rosé wines were first popularized in the late 1700’s when French wines imported in England were called “Claret” (sounds like “Clairette”) to describe their pale red color. Today, you can find rosé wines of all styles (sweet or dry) made from many different grapes from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel (known commonly as White Zinfandel).

Light-Bodied Red Wine

Light-bodied red wines are typically pale in color (you can see through them in a glass) and have very light tannin. FYI, tannin tastes astringent in wine and dries your mouth out in the same way that putting a wet tea bag on your tongue would. For this reason, light red wines are some of the most coveted wines in the world.

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Medium red wines are what I like to call “food wines.” They offer up tons of flavor with a balance of zesty acidity which makes them match with a wide variety of foods (from zesty salads to rich and cheesy lasagna). These are the perfect mid-week wines for red wine lovers and go well with the christmas turkey.

Full-Bodied Red Wine

Full-bodied red wines are the deepest darkest and most tannic of all the red wines. Tannin might sound weird and bitter but the tannin in wine binds to proteins in our saliva and it has a palate-cleansing effect. This is why a bold red wine pairs so wonderfully with a juicy, fatty steak like ribeye. Full-bodied red wines are also quite pleasing and stand on their own as a cocktail wine.

Dessert Wine

In the mid to late 1800’s, sweet wines were more popular than dry wines. In fact, several of the most exalted wines in the world, from Sauternes in Bordeaux to Essencia from Hungary, are practically as thick as maple syrup. Dessert wines today now range from dry to sweet and are some of the boldest, most intensely flavored (and aromatic) wines in the world.

Need to know what foods pair with which wine? Check out this basic wine and food pairing chart.

 

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