I’ve found myself becoming more and more interested in the different types of wine. I don’t know if it’s because I like to introduce people to new things and sound like I know what I’m talking about (when in reality I don’t know much about it). I do the same with beer. When I go to our local pub with friends who haven’t been there I’m busy getting them to try new varieties of beer that they otherwise would never have tried.

I’ve had to learn a little bit about wine as I’ve gone and haven’t done much research until just now while trying to compile a list of commonly drank wines. This list isn’t a list of commonly bought or most popular brands…but varieties of white and red wines. Why? Well if you ever try a wine and like the “dryness” or “fruitiness” of the wine and want to know what it’s called, what to order next time, or what to buy when you go to the store – you’ll be saved the footwork of searching around for descriptions of all the wines out there by simply coming here and finding out “Oh, that was a very fruity white wine, good chance it was a Reisling”…that being said, here are a few of the more popular types of wine (keep in mind that this is not all-inclusive, just the more popular types). Read on for the list!

White Wines
Chardonnay – Chardonnay is the best known of the white wines and more than likely also the more popular in most parts of the world. The reason it’s so popular is that the grapes don’t require any blending, are easy to grow, and produce a high yield. Chardonnays’ are dry, fruity wines with a mix of delicate flavours and aromas. It is used extensively in California and is the only grape grown in the Chablis region of Burgundy. The best are medium-bodied, medium dry and high in acidity.

Pinot Grigio/Gris – Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio) is a golden-yellow wine with aromatic, fruity flavors that improves with a couple of years in the bottle. It’s much more dry and acidic in comparison to the Riesling. It is subtle in both flavor and aroma and is somewhat reminiscent of almonds, minerals and peaches.

Riesling – A late ripening grape with only a moderate yield, Riesling has been cultivated in Germany since the 14th century and is generally thought of as a sweet wine. Riesling grapes grow well in cooler climates, and produce both light and full bodied wines. It is high in acidity, floral and fruity and low in alcohol. Riesling makes a very good summer wine.

White Zinfandel – A popular, pale-rose wine with quite a sweet taste that is made from the Red Zinfandel grape (The red skins are removed before the wines colour can be affected). It has a very “berry” smell and has pleasant strawberry reminders when Zinfandel is made into a “blush” wine. It is usually served chilled.

Red Wines
Cabernet Sauvignon – A medium to full bodied wine of deep colour that blends well with other wines. The French Red Bordeaux wines use Cabernet Sauvignon grapes along with Cabernet Franc or Merlot grapes, as do American wines using the Meritage name. Cabernets have a firm tannic structure, flavor of deep dark fruits, and medium to full bodied. The most successful plantings in North America are mainly on Long Island (N.Y.) and the cooler regions of northern California.

Merlot – Until recently, Merlot’s were primarily used as a blending wine because its complex but mellow taste takes the edge off of harsher wines. Today, Merlot’s are popular wines on their own. Merlot’s qualities include soft tannins, plummy fruit, full bodied, rich in color and a generous mouth-filling quality. It’s a great well-rounded wine.

Pinot Noir – Pinot Nior is usually medium to deep ruby red in colour, full-bodied, quite aromatic and possesses a wide variety of flavours. Pinot Noir grapes produce a red wine that is lighter in color than the Bordeaux reds such as the Cabernet’s or Merlot. It is typically less-harsh than the Merlot’s and much less than the Cabernet’s.

Zinfandel – Real Zinfandel is always red. It’s made by removing the grape skins before they have a chance to color the wine. It has depth, color, concentration and balance as well as exotic spices so unique to Zinfandel’s. A full-bodied, dry wine with a deep red hue, Zinfandels’ are known for their intense fruit flavour. Primarily grown in California, Zinfandel’s have proven to be popular with growers because of their great versitility and their ease of cultivation. While most Zinfandel’s are young wines, most age very well.

So that beckons the question – which wine is the best wine? Well that’s definately up to you and your preferred taste…whether you want it dry, fruity, chilled, or room temperature. The wine you choose can also vary greatly depending on what you’re eating it with. Spicy meat dishes, like Indian and Chinese dishes, are best accompanied by a white wine. Pork, “the other white meat”, can also be accompanied by white wine, and chicken and turkey go well with less heavy reds like pinot noir. Because duck is very rich, it can hold up next to a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Merlot. The usual “red wine is only for red meats” rule only goes for heavier meats like steak or lamb. Get out there and try some different combinations and varieties and don’t be scared to try something new… it may end up being your favorite!

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