The world of wines can be extremely intimidating with so many different types, each with its own unique characteristics determined by things such as grape variety, climate, winemaking technique and terroir.
But having a basic knowledge of the main types of wines can help you to better understand what it is you like and don’t like about what you are drinking and allow you to make more measured decisions next time you are making your selection.
Here is a simple and helpful breakdown of the 4 main types of wine, their common characteristics and what food pairings go best with them.
Red wines are made from dark-skinned varieties of grapes which are fermented along with the stems, seeds and skins, giving them their unique colour, flavours, acidity and tannins.
- Colouring – Their colours can vary from soft ruby and opaque purple to deep garnet.
- Flavour – Red wines tend to have high levels of tannin which are responsible for the slightly bitter, dry sensation that can be felt when you take a sip. Their dominant flavours tend to be dark fruits with chocolate, coffee and cedar notes due to most being aged in oak barrels.
- Varieties – Merlot, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Bordeaux, Shiraz, Sangiovese and Barbera.
- Food Pairing – Red wines tend to go great with hearty red meat dishes such as steak, ribs, lamb and burgers as well as pizza, pasta and cheese boards.
- Top tips – Most red wines will fair best if consumed at around or slightly below room temperature.
White wines are made from both white and black grapes. Unlike red wines which are fermented with the skins on, the grapes used for white wines are fermented without the skins and instead separated so that only clear grape juice is used.
- Colouring – White wines can vary greatly in colour ranging from watery, pale straw shades to bright yellows and even deep golden hues.
- Flavour – White wines have few tannins and are acidic in nature with crisp, tart and fresh flavours.
- Varieties – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Sémillon and Moscato.
- Food Pairing – Most varieties of white wines pair well with lighter dishes and foods including fish, seafood, poultry, salads, tacos and even popcorn, chips and curry.
- Top tips – White wine is best appreciated when it is served chilled in order to fully bring out its flavours.
This pretty wine is created by fermenting the juice of black grapes with the skins for a short period of time until the juice turns the right colour.
- Colouring – The pink colours that rosé wines are known for can range from pale, almost clear blush hues to deeper colours mixed with purples or even orange shades.
- Flavour – Like white wine, rosé is low in tannins, although there are some types that are dry. Rosé is a very popular crowd-pleaser that is ideal for use as a starter wine or serving at summer parties.
- Varieties – Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese.
- Food Pairing – Rosé goes well with most dishes but particularly with light meals and snacks such as fish, poultry, fruits, soft cheeses and charcuterie boards.
- Top tips – Just like white wine, rosé is best served chilled. Whilst in storage keep it in a cool dark place and be sure to put it in the fridge at least 2 hours before consuming.
These carbonated wines are made from white and black grapes and their famous ‘bubbles’ are why they are often used in celebration for special occasions.
- Colouring – Sparkling wines are usually either white or rosé, but there are a few rare red sparkling wines.
- Flavour – Common flavours that can be found in sparkling wines include strawberry, apple, citrus, pear, vanilla and cream.
- Varieties – Prosecco, Champagne, Moscato, Cava, sparkling rosé, Lambrusco.
- Food Pairing – These sparkly wines taste great with fresh fruit, salads, smoked salmon, soft cheeses and seafood.
- Top tips – Avoid serving sparkling wine too cold and use a champagne flute or coupe, holding the stem and not the glass to avoid warming the wine.
Use your newfound knowledge to shop wine online Ireland with a wide range of great value wines for you to discover.