A Guide to the Common Types of Wine to Know

Wine tasting has been around for centuries, and each wine type offers its unique complexity, aroma, and taste.

set of different types of wines with food pairing

This comprehensive beginner’s guide will explain the distinct flavors across 16 types of wine—from red, white, and rose to spiced and sparkling wines.

16 Types of Wine

There is never too much wine knowledge with thousands of varieties available; here are some prominent wine types to add to your collection.

Bottles of wine types

Barley Wines

Barley wine is a strong, full-bodied beer with an ABV of eight to twelve percent. With its sweet, malty taste and deep amber color, it can vary in flavor based on the brand.

Some brands offer nutty, citrusy, or even smoky tones.

a glass of Barley wine with peanuts

When serving barley wine, use stemmed glasses to enhance the nuances of its aroma and texture. Enjoy at room temperature or slightly chilled – avoid putting it in the refrigerator, as it can affect the flavor profile of this distinctive beer.

For food pairings, consider roasted meats like pork or beef tenderloin. You can also pair it with fruits and nuts or desserts such as dark chocolates or creme brulee for an added sweetness that pairs well with this delicious brew.

Notable Wines of this variety include Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s “Muscat” and Deschutes Brewery’s “The Abyss”.

Blue Wines

Blue wines have quickly become a trendy topic in the wine world due to their vibrant colors and unique flavor profiles. Many blue wines offer a balance between sweet and sour with tropical or citrus flavors.

For optimal enjoyment, best to keep blue wines chilled at 44-46℉.

Bottle and two glasses of trendy blue wine

As far as pairings go, these wines are versatile and will go well with dishes containing fruits, creamy cheeses, shellfish, salads, charcuterie boards, and grilled foods.

Dessert Wines

You can characterize a dessert wine by its distinct sweet wine flavor and sugary finish, which make them especially enjoyable as after-dinner treats.

dessert wine with cheese brie and fruits

In terms of appearance, they typically have a golden or honey color with clarity and brightness.

Dessert wines are best paired with spiced desserts like holiday cake or pumpkin pie, fruit-based desserts like poached pears, and chocolate desserts like brownies or truffles.

If choosing to serve dessert wine at an event, it should be chilled in an ice bucket for twenty minutes before drinking and kept at cellar temperatures throughout the meal.

Fortified Wines

Fortified wines are distinct for their higher alcohol content due to the addition of a distilled spirit during the winemaking process.

Aged golden fortified wine from the antique bottle being poured into a crystal glass

Fortified wines appear more viscous than table wines due to their higher sugar concentration, which makes them an accompaniment for chocolate or fruit desserts.

They can also stand up to savory dishes like Braised Short Ribs or Ricotta Gnocchi – it all depends on the level of sweetness.

Best to keep fortified wine around 52-56 degrees Fahrenheit or hold them in a cool, dark area.

Fruit Wines

Fruit flavors like raspberry, peach, and blackberry are quickly becoming new favorites among vino aficionados. The sweet and tart nature offers a unique sensory experience of softness and acidity.

red wine made from organic sweet and juicy grape fruits

Fruit wines usually have an inviting aroma that draws you in, with gorgeous colors like ruby reds or pinks hinting at the dark fruit flavors inside. Serve the wine chilled for optimum enjoyment.

Although fruit wines can be enjoyed on their own, they also pair well with various desserts. For instance, raspberry wine goes wonderfully with coconut macaroons, and blackberry pairs exceptionally with dark chocolate truffles.

    Honey Wines

    Honey wine, known as mead, has distinct flavors like tart/dry, sweet, and mixed berry. This beverage combines honey, water, and yeast.

    Sweet yellow honey wine

    To best enjoy the deliciously smooth taste and crispness of these wines paired with the food, they should stay at temperatures between 45 -50°F.

    When chilling, remember that temperatures should not go above 35°F, or the perfect blend of sweetness can become too sweet.

    Savor its intricate flavors as you dip into classic pairings like cheese platters and roasted nuts.

      Ice Wines

      Ice wines are dessert wines made from wine grapes frozen on the vine. These grapes contain more natural sugars and create a richer flavor without adding any extra sugar after the wine fermentation process

      Famous Niagara Ice Wine on display at an upscale winery

      Ice wines are beloved worldwide for their sweet wine flavor, luxurious texture, and versatility in pairing with desserts or other courses.

      To ensure a befitting experience from start to finish, important tips like preventing the wine from freezing in transit and keeping it chilled when serving are essential.

      Ice Wines provide pleasant pairings with dishes such as prosciutto and melon while adding complexity to blue cheese platters.

      Mulled Wines

      Mulled wine is a delightful drink, with different flavors and aromas making it an attractive option for any evening.

      Tasty aromatic mulled wine on black table

      It has a warm, inviting red color, and its flavor tends to be spiced, rich, sweet, and acidic.

      The beverage is created by heating red wine with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg.

      Mulled wine pairs nicely with savory meats like turkey and pork. When served hot from the stovetop, mulled wine should stay at roughly 155F-175F; however, when chilled it should be around 50-60F.

      Be sure not to heat your mulled wines above 200F since this will cause them to lose their delicate flavors.

      Orange Wines

      Orange Wines are gaining popularity with wine enthusiasts as they bring together the best of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio worlds.

      tall glass of rich orange wine

      The taste can range from woody, nutty notes to honeyed fruit flavors such as apricots or peaches.

      Most Orange Wines are deep tangerine orange in color. These wines go great with dishes like grilled vegetables, rice dishes, pork or turkey roasts, and bold-flavored cheeses.

      To get the most flavor out of your Orange Wine experience, keep it at cellar temperature (12-14 °Celsius) or slightly cooler if you like.

        Red Wine

        When people think of red wine, they usually think of Pinot noir, made with red grape skins for the color. Red wine is an astounding beverage for its vast range of delicious flavors and complex aromas.

        Red wine glass and bottle red wine

        There are several red wines, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Red wines like pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon pair wonderfully with food like marbled steak and creamy risotto.

        Most vintage red wines should be between 15-17° Celsius (60-63° Fahrenheit), while more robust red wine profiles benefit from being chilled to around 8-11° Celsius (46-52° Fahrenheit).

        Resinated Wines

        Resinated wines come in several flavors, such as melon, strawberry, and mandarin. When it comes to food pairings, these wines go best with medium-high acidity dishes like chicken, fish, or pasta dishes with citrus dressings.

        Retsina Greek traditional  resinated wine

        They can be served chilled between 53-57 degrees Fahrenheit.

        Rice Wines

        Rice wines are a type of alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice, usually leaving it with delicate and sweet flavors.

        yellow rice wine

        Many brands of rice wine have evolved in various Asian countries over centuries, such as Japanese sake and Chinese baijiu.

        They have dry or sweet flavor profiles, appear crystal clear while ranging in color from faint yellow to golden hues, and should be kept at room temperature if uncorked and chilled if already opened.

        Food pairings depend on its sweetness level, as it can pair well with spicy food dishes or milder selections.

        Experienced connoisseurs often advise beginners to chill for 10-15 minutes before consuming for best results.

        Rosé Wines

        Rosé wines can be a great addition to any table. Rosé wines are typically considered lighter drinks and often have a pink or orange hue due to pinot Gris grapes.

        an elegant glass of rosè wine

        This coloration makes them especially attractive when served in an outdoor setting. This type of wine offers refreshing flavors that pair well with many dishes, such as salads and seafood.

        Keep it at 58-59 degrees Fahrenheit when serving or 50-52 while storing.

        Sparkling Wines

        Sparkling wines have effervescent bubbles that give them a unique taste that ranges from dry to sweet and is pleasing to the palate.

        glass of sparkling wine

        Sparkling wines labeled ‘Extra Brut’ tend to be dry, while a ‘Demi-Sec’ label designates a sweeter sparkling wine.

        Sparkling wine’s appearance also depends on its flavor profile; typically pale yellow for dry varieties and golden yellow for slightly sweet sparkling wines.

        When enjoyed, it should always be served chilled (ideally around 45°F) and with various foods ranging from salty cheeses to spicy stir fry. 

        Spiced Wines

        Spiced Wines are a type of infused wine flavored with spices, fruit, and herbs, making it incredibly varied in flavor.

        Depending on the ingredients used, the appearance can range from light to dark vibrant hues.

        Spiced Wine pairs well with many kinds of food as its spices enhance savory dishes while its sweetness complements desserts.

        In terms of temperature and storage, these wines have a sweet spot: they are best served chilled and should be kept at a cool or room temperature to stay fresh the longest.

        White Wines

        White wines are not so different than red wines besides the color that red wine gains from the grape skins.

        White wine in a glass with fall grapes

        White wines like sauvignon blanc can range from pale silver to deeper yellowish-green hues. The bouquet of flavors varies depending on the type; it could be sweet like Moscato or citrusy as an unoaked chardonnay.

        With several white wines to choose from, you will find one that fits your taste palate. White wines pair well with fish, light meats, vegetables, and salads.

        For best results when serving a white wine, chill it to the appropriate temperature, usually between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        Are you interested in becoming a wine connoisseur? Here are some need-to-know questions and answers regarding wine.

        When was the first wine produced?

        The first evidence of wine production dates back as far as 6,000 BC in the region now known as Georgia. The U.S.A. has much history of wine from all over the country.

        Which country drinks the most wine?

        Wine connoisseurs have long argued over which country consumes the most wine. Wine statistics show that the U.S.A. is the winner, with France as a close second.

        How do I choose the ideal glass for drinking wine?

        Red wines typically require a glass with a wider opening so that the flavors and aromas are released when you swirl your wine.

        For white wines, a narrower top helps keep the temperature and aromas ready for tasting. Sparkling wines need a taller glass.

        Final Thoughts

        Wine is a complex and diverse beverage enjoyed by novices and connoisseurs alike. With so many types of wine on the market, it can be challenging to understand the differences.

        Studying and tasting one wine at a time will help you become an expert on this special and unique beverage.

        From Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir to fortified wines and Pinot Gris, you will always have a new wine to try.

        Let us know in the comments which wine you like best!

        Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

        Written by Rocco

        Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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