Learn Wine With The 9 Major Styles


May 12, 2014 Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » Learn Wine With The 9 Major Styles

Ever find yourself looking at a wine list, wanting a specific type of wine, but don’t know how to ask for it? Learning how to order wine is as simple as having a good understanding of just 9 wine styles. If you’re already very familiar with the styles listed below, check out the continued learning at the bottom of each style.

9 Primary Wine Styles

Traditionally, there are two ways to understand wines: by variety (e.g. Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah) or by region (e.g. Barossa or Bordeaux). This is a very accurate approach, but it’s not very quick. Fortunately, you can start classifying wine types by style which will make learning about the thousands of wine varieties and regions much easier. There are basically 9 major categories that include all red, white, rosé, sparkling and dessert wines.


The 9 Styles of Wine

  • Full Red Wines
  • Medium Red Wines
  • Light Red Wines
  • Rosé Wines
  • Rich White Wines
  • Zesty White Wines
  • Sweet White Wines
  • Dessert Wines
  • Sparkling Wines

full-bodied-red-wine-styles

Full-Bodied and Rich Red Wines

Full-bodied wines typically have more tannin, higher alcohol, and dark fruit flavors such as black currant. Since these wines have so much pigment, they are higher in anthocyanin which has shown positive benefits to cardiovascular health. As far as flavor, these wines are the biggest on the spectrum and thus, pair with equally bold flavored food. Typically you’ll find them served in large-bowled wine glasses.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Room Temperature (63-69 °F / 17-21 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Barbecue, Mexican Foods, Smoked Meats, Red Meat & Steaks, Savory Mushroom Dishes, Black Pepper

Continued Learning

Full Bodied Red Wines


medium-bodied-red-wine-styles

Medium-Bodied and Textured Red Wines

In the middle of the gamut from light to bold, medium-bodied reds are some of the best food pairing wines. Classic examples of this style include varieties like Sangiovese and Merlot. You’ll find there is quite a bit of variation in these varieties because of regional differences in growing and winemaking. For instance, a Merlot from a hillside estate on Spring Mountain in Napa Valley will have high tannin and blackberry flavors whereas a Merlot from a large valley vineyard in Lombardy, Italy will exhibit subtle tannins and soft cherry flavors.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Room Temperature (63-69 °F / 17-21 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Lasagna, Pizza with Red Sauce, Spiced and Roasted Meats, Hearty Vegetable Soups, Hamburgers, Roasted Vegetables, Strong flavored spices like Cinnamon, Fennel, Anise, Cumin, Rosemary, Chili Pepper, Allspice


light-red-wine-styles

Light-Bodied Red Wines

Delicately perfumed with very subtle flavors, light-bodied red wines are perfect for people who don’t want to get knocked upside the head with their wine. This style of wine is very popular with both collectors and beginners alike. Light red wines are known for having lighter tannin, bright acidity and slightly lower alcohol with red fruit flavors. They are classically served in a fish-bowl type glass that collects the aromas. As this style of wine continues to grow in popularity, you’ll see more traditionally bold red wines being made in this style.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Cool Room Temperature (53-63 °F / 12-19 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Mushroom Risotto, Coq au Vin, Cream Pasta with Chicken, Chicken & other Poultry

Continued Learning

13 Light Bodied Red Wines


rose-wine-styles

Rosé Wines

Rosé wines are the literal mid-point between white and red wine, however they tend to behave a lot more like a white wine. They are typically served chilled and most are dry (save for White Zinfandel). You’ll find this style very popular close to the Mediterranean around the south of France, islands in the Mediterranean, the Spanish eastern coast and in Italy. Expect to spend anywhere from about $12-17 for a great-tasting rosé.

Serving Temperature

Cool Room Temperature (53-63 °F / 12-19 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Spice Route Dishes, Fried Chicken, Roast Pork, Mexican Food, Lebanese, Greek and Turkish Cuisine


rich-buttery-white-wines

Rich White Wines

Full-bodied white wines have often been confused as being red wines when served in black glassware. This is because rich white wines typically undergo similar treatments as red wines in the winery to achieve the bold flavor. This usually means some oak aging, to add that classic vanilla or coconut note, as well as a process called ‘Malolactic Fermentation’, which changes the type of acid in the wine to make wine taste creamier. Many full-bodied white wines will age up to 10 years, although most are in their prime at around 3-4 years. Expect to spend about $17+ for a decent rich white wine.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Cool (44-57 °F / 7-14 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Crab & Lobster, Pasta with Cream Sauce, Tarragon Chicken, White Pizza, Cashew Cream, Soft Cheeses, Chicken & Other Poultry


zesty-dry-white-wine-style

Zesty Dry White Wines

Like a lightning bolt in your mouth, whites in this style are the wine equivalent to a refreshing lager. They’re best enjoyed young, within a year or two of the vintage, to preserve the fresh fruity flavors and mouth-watering acidity. Of all the wine styles, dry crisp whites have the best bang for the buck, at around $10 for a decent wine. Of course, you can find some extremely badass higher-end options, if this style is your thing.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Cold (44-57 °F / 7-14 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Seafood, Sushi, Green Salads, Pesto, Fried Foods (like French Fries and Fried Chicken), Chicken & other Poultry


sweet-white-wine-styles

Sweet White Wines

Perfumed aromas fly out of your glass and, upon sipping these wines, you’ll discover a touch of sweetness. Despite their lowly reputation, sweet white wines are the darling of nearly every hardcore wino because of the fame of classic German Riesling from the Mosel. While many commercially available sweet whites fly under the $10 mark, you’ll most likely need to spend up to $20 for a high quality example.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Cold (44-57 °F / 7-14 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

Indian Cuisine, Thai Food, Citrus-driven Dishes, Pungent Cheeses, Cream Sauce, Cake, Ice Cream


dessert-wine-styles

Dessert & Fortified Wines

In order to preserve the natural sweetness in fortified wines, the fermentation is stopped before the yeast gobbles up all the sugar. Typically when you do this, you’d be left with a lower alcohol wine but since fortified wines are allowed to add spirits (in the form of a neutral-tasting grape brandy) the wines are usually around 17-20% ABV. Because of the high alcohol and sugar content, dessert wines are precious and meant to be enjoyed in small amounts (about 2-3 ounces) in tiny glasses. Of course, there are many more options in the dessert wine category than just fortified wines like Sherry, Madeira and Port. Find out more about dessert wines.

Examples
Serving Temperature

Varies

Food Pairing Affinities

Pungent Cheeses (like Blue), Caramel, Cakes, Chocolate, Fruit Pies


sparkling-wine-styles

Champagne & Sparkling Wines

The secret to Champagne bubbles comes from the addition of a special mixture of sugar and wine called the ‘liqueur d’expedition’. This is what makes the bubbles. Sparkling wines have bubbles and high acidity and range from white, rosé to red in color. Sparkling wines have been long associated as a celebratory beverage, but actually match with a wide variety of foods.

Examples
  • Champagne
  • Cava
  • Prosecco
  • Metodo Classico
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Sekt
  • Lambrusco
Serving Temperature

Ice Cold (38-48 °F / 5-9 °C)

Food Pairing Affinities

French Fries, Chili, Oysters, Salads, Fish Tacos, Salty Foods

 

Basic Wine Guide Infographic

Get the Wine Guide Infographic

The Basic Wine Guide includes the 9 wine styles and offers great information on what foods to pair, what wines to try and what aromas you can expect.
Size: 18×24 inches
Quality: Archival Inks on Pearlescent Paper
Satisfaction Guarantee: All our prints are satisfaction guaranteed.
 
Buy a Poster


Do you like this post?


By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards.