There are many different types of wines.
Wine is classified by the type of grape (or grapes) grown to produce that wine, where those grapes are grown, and the process the winemaker goes through to produce that wine.
Here are the different types of wines defined by grape type. A grape type is also called a varietal. Click on the links below to navigate to each page.
Wines may also be categorized not just by their grape type, but by their production style. Even though Sparkling Wine is listed above, most of its final quality is determined by production style.
Other different types of wines defined more by their production style are:
So you see, a wine’s final flavor and character will be determined by many complex factors, not just by the specific grape varietal grown, but by how those grapes are treated throughout the wine making process.
The best way to learn the different types of wines is by tasting several types of wines. By doing this you will gradually learn to distinguish one from the other.
Shopping for wine and becoming familiar with wine labels will also help you learn about the different wine types.
And, joining a wine club is an excellent way to experience many different types of wines in a most convenient and enjoyable fashion.
In the United States, wines are usually referred to by the type or variety of grape (varietal) grown to produce them.
For example, you’ll see the words “Pinot Noir” or “Chardonnay”, which are grape types, written on the label.
Many wines are a combination or “blend” of two or more grape varietals. Legally, in the Unites States, the label only has to reveal the name of a single grape varietal if at least 75% of the wine is made from that one grape type.
The other 25% of the wine can be made from one or more other grape varietals and those do not have to be listed.
However, many US wine makers voluntarily list all grape varietals used in a wine blend on their label. Sometimes you will even see the percentages included.
On US labels you may also see reference to a particular location where the grapes used to produce that wine were grown. If that location is a wide geographic region (for example “California” or “Santa Barbara”) this indicates the grapes grown to produce that wine are from vines growing anywhere in this region.
If the location is very specific, and quite possibly one you’ve not heard of, this wine is vineyard specific. This means all grapes grown to produce this wine are from one small plot of land where the growing conditions were ideal to produce this type of wine in this particular year (vintage). In theory, and generally in reality, vineyard specific wines are of higher quality.
Wines may also be classified as “Estate Grown”, meaning all the grapes grown to produce that wine are from this winemakers’ own vines.
Other wine producing countries, besides Europe, may also label their wines in the ways described above.
In Europe, wines are generally named for the region (appellation) that a wine’s grapes are grown in, not for the grape.
In Europe, where a wine is grown, by whom it is grown, and the type of soil it is grown in are just as (or more) important as the type of wine grapes grown. However, for the novice wine drinker, this makes it difficult to tell which wine grape(s) are used in the production of that wine.
As you begin to enjoy European wines, you will become familiar with the various wine growing regions and wine producers. You’ll learn which types of grapes are grown in each area and which grapes are used in the production of specific wines.
Here are some basic European classifications you may already know. Bordeaux wine from the French region of the same name is typically from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Burgundy wine from the region of Burgundy (Bourgogne) in France is made with Pinot Noir grapes. And Chianti wine is made with Sangiovese grapes from the region of Chianti in Tuscany.