The Different Wine Types
Nothing can duplicate the amazing flavour created when you add wine to your recipes. The rich, deep flavour that red wine adds to beef stew or spaghetti Bolognese is unparalleled. White wine can be used in the same way, to add a new dimension of flavour to any dish you do not want discoloured by red wine. In this article, we explore the many different wine types.
Red Wine and White Wine
Wine is created when crushed grapes plus yeast and sugar are combined and left to ferment for a specific period of time. When red wine is created black and/or red grapes are crushed and the juice, skin and sometimes even the stems are left to ferment in a tank or cask. After fermentation, the skins are removed using a wine press and the wine is filtered to remove the yeast.
White wine is created by crushing a grape of any colour and separating the juice from the skins and the juice is fermented alone. When fermentation is complete the yeast is filtered out. A rose wine is made using grape juice and black or red grapes skin that are left in contact just long enough to colour the wine slightly. After fermentation and filtering wines are aged in either stainless steel tanks or oak casks depending on the vintners desired flavour. White wines are typically aged a year or less. Red wines however, are aged from one to three years. Some people enjoy purchasing red wine and aging it at home in their own personal wine cellar. It is a speculative pursuit as there is no guarantee how the wine will taste or how valuable it will be after ten years or more.
Have you ever wondered how wines get their names? We all know Champagne comes from the Champagne region of France, but how does that explain Cabernet Sauvignon? Different wine types can be named after the region they are produced in or the type of grape used in their production. If a wine
is named after a grape there is a minimum content requirement (usually 85% or 75%) of that particular grape that must be used. The other 15% can be any other grape the vintner sees fit.
Describing Wine Types
A new trend in the wine industry is naming a wine not after a location or grape varietal, but trademarking it with its own unique name. An example of this would be Barboursville Vineyards Octagon 2010 or Chaddsford Red Wine . These wines do not contain sufficient amounts of one specific type of grape to be named after a grape varietal. This leaves ample amount of experimentation room for a vintner to create something very uniquely flavoured.
Whenever you add wine to a dish there are certain characteristics of the wine that need to be contemplated –Aroma and Flavour. Wines consist of a bouquet of aromas, it is difficult to pick out individual notes if you are not and accomplished wine connoisseur. Aromas are described by what they remind the person of whether it be herb, spice, flower or any other object. Top note aromas are the first aromas you smell while the longer lasting aromas are base or medium notes. Unique wine flavours are created when the vintner adjust the level of acidity and sweetness. Flavour is described as a level of sweetness, either sweet or dry or somewhere in between. The first flavour noted by the wine drinker is referred to as the top note flavour and the finish is how long the flavour lasts in your mouth after the wine has been swallowed.
Another characteristic of wine that deserves mention is Body. A wine can either be described as light, medium or full bodied. This is directly related to the amount of alcohol present in the wine. If you can feel the alcohol strongly in your mouth you would describe the wine as full bodied. If you only notice a hint of alcohol in your mouth you would describe the wine as light bodied.
Wines with high alcohol content are referred to as fortified wines. The alcohol content in these wines ranges between 18% to 22% as opposed to the usual 10% to 15%. This increase is achieved by adding grape brandy with the same grape varietal as the wine itself. The sweetness of fortified wine is dependent upon when the brandy is added to the wine. When added before fermentation is complete the wine will be sweet, if added after fermentation then the wine will be drier.
Port originates from the Duoro valley of Portugal and is generally divided into three different categories. Tawny ports which are aged 20 to 30 years and are often a blend of multiple ports. Vintage ports which are aged for several decades and considered the finest quality. Ruby ports which are commonly younger low quality ports.
Sherry is a wine type originates from the Jerez region of southern Spain and is a fortified white wine. It is created through a long process called solera which involves blending of different aged wines with a strict temperature control and exposure to a yeast called flor. There are six different types of sherry: Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Amoroso, and Cream sherry.
Madeira is a wine type that originates from the island of Madeira and is a fortified white wine. Madeira is heated up using a process called estufagem which develops the wines light brown colour and toffee flavour. There are four different types of Madeira: Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malmsey. Marsala originates in western Sicily and is produced from grapes that have been dried prior to fermentation. Vermouth is a fortified wine which has been infused with brandy and various other flavourful ingredients. Cloves, citrus peels, elderberries, juniper berries, nutmeg, coriander just to name a few.
Vermouth is a wine type that is aged two to four years in oak casks. There are two different types of vermouth: rosso (red) also called Italian vermouth and bianco (white) also called French vermouth.