The Nine Primary Styles of Wine

The Nine Primary Styles of Wine

We love wine—at this point, that’s obvious. There’s so much to learn and admire about every bottle you open, every wine region you explore, and every sip that passes your lips. If you’re like us and you appreciate the history, process, and taste of wine, then it’s important to keep learning. The world of wine is meant to be explored!

Today, we’ll discuss the nine primary styles of wine. It may seem basic, but without this understanding, delving into the more complex nature of wine will be difficult. Take a look at these styles, see which ones catch your eye, and then start tasting them! Though there are nine primary styles, each style has its own subcategories that exemplify the complex flavor profiles and processes of wine. Check it out and get learning; what you learn here can help you gain a better grasp of wine in the future.

Sparkling Wine

Though it’s easy to grab a $5 bottle of grocery store Champagne, that doesn’t really get at the complex nature of sparkling wine. In fact, sparkling wines are some of the most time-intensive wines in the world. Though there’s an array of bubbles (from Champagne to Cava)—all made with slightly different methods—there is a typical process for all of them. The bubbles in sparkling wine are products of carbon dioxide, which is absorbed when fermentation happens under pressure. Most sparkling wines also involve a secondary fermentation.

Examples of Sparkling Wine

  • Champagne (true Champagne can get quite pricy)
  • Cava (a Spanish sparkler)
  • Prosecco

Light-Bodied White Wine

For people first getting into the world of wine, this is often the go-to. These are crisp, dry wines that pair beautifully with a variety of nourishment choices. Because of this, they’re actually some of the most-sold wines in the world, and their flavors vary depending on the bottle. Typically, cool climates produce some of the best examples of this wine style.

Examples of Light-Bodied White Wine

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Albariño
  • Grüner Veltliner

Full-Bodied White Wine

If you’re more of a red wine-lover but you want to start enjoying the world of white wine, then this wine style is a good starting point. These white wines have a subtle creaminess with a rich, smooth taste. To reach this mouthfeel, these full-bodied whites are typically created with some special winemaking techniques, such as oak barrel aging or a second, malolactic fermentation.

Full-bodied white wines stand out because of their distinct vanilla notes, and they pair well with seafood, buttery dishes, risotto, and assorted cheeses. They’re not typically the white wines you’d take out to enjoy in the sunshine—rather, they’re the white wines you’d open in the fall.

Examples of Full-Bodied White Wine

  • Oaked Chardonnay (the classic choice, typically best from California, Spain, or Italy)
  • Viognier

Aromatic White Wine

Aromatic white wines are best-known as those sweet white wines that beginner wine-drinkers turn to. Aromatic grapes are actually some of the oldest varieties in the world. These wines will be full of explosive, perfumed aromas that burst forth from the glass and hit your nose quickly. Because of the production process, most of these wines will taste sweeter because of the leftover residual sugar. Keep in mind that aromatic doesn’t necessarily mean the wine won’t still be dry—that comes from the wine-making process.

Examples of Aromatic White Wine

  • Moscato d’Asti
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Riesling

Rosé Wine

Rosé wine’s popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years. It’s made by “dyeing” a wine for a short period of time with the skins of red wine grapes, turning the wine a pale red color. We’ve talked in the past about the different Rosé wine styles, so we know there’s a whole world to explore in this wine style.

Examples of Rosé Wine

  • Grenache Rosé (one of the fruitiest Rosés)
  • Mourvèdre Rosé (a full-bodied Rosé)
  • Sangiovese Rosé (perfect for summer)

Light-Bodied Red Wine

Light-bodied red wines are more “see-through” wines. They’re lighter in tannins, so these wines are a good choice for people who are just entering the world of red wines. They won’t dry out your mouth, and they tend to be a bit more fruit-forward. Because they’re among the easiest red wines to drink, they’re some of the most coveted wines—they’re a must-try!

Examples of Light-Bodied Red Wine

  • Pinot Noir (the classic light-bodied red)
  • Gamay Noir (Beaujolais)
  • Blaufränkisch

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Getting further into the world of red wine, the next wine style is that of medium-bodied reds. These wines offer a ton of flavor, with a decent acidity and medium tannin levels. Because of this, they match with a wide variety of foods (even salads!). You don’t just have to stick with gamey meats here—a lot of foods pair well with this wine. Because of this, a lot of wines fall into the medium-bodied red wine category.

Examples of Medium-Bodied Red Wine

  • Merlot
  • Zinfandel
  • Grenache
  • Sangiovese

Full-Bodied Red Wine

The wine style that most people think of when it comes to red wine, full-bodied reds are high in tannins and deep in color. They go well with meaty, fatty, and juicy dishes, but you don’t have to pair them with food in order to enjoy the taste. You may have to get used to the palate-cleansing effect, but once you do, you’ll love the depth of flavor and overall complexity of this wine style.

Examples of Full-Bodied Red Wine

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Malbec
  • Syrah/Shiraz

Dessert Wine

The last wine style we’ll discuss is dessert wine. In the latter half of the 1800s, sweet wines were much more popular than dry wines. You’ll know these as some of the boldest, most intensely flavored and aromatic wines around. They can range from dry to sweet, but most dessert wines you think of are sweet—and a great way to finish off a meal.

Examples of Dessert Wine

  • Port
  • Sherry
  • Madeira
  • Ice Wine

This was our guide to the nine primary styles of wine. If this interested you and you want to taste these styles, turn to Wines ’Til Sold Out for high-quality white wine, red wine, and sparkling wine. Anything you need to enjoy the world of wine, we have for you! Shop our collections now!

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