How well do you know your wines?
Let me help you classify them by style category and show you my preferences in each for those in the mood for something new or looking to revisit an old favorite.
Get to know my personal wine style!
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It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting a dinner party or simply relishing a glass with dinner – sometimes the occasion calls for wine. For this reason, now I have rounded up a list of my favorite types of wine. Whether you’re in the mood for something new or looking to revisit an old favorite, these are the types of wine that need to be on your radar.
I classify my wines into different style categories in order to help you with your choice. Don’t miss these simple tips before a wine tasting!
CRISP LIGHT WHITES
My crisp light white wines category is for really mouthwatering white wines. They are light-bodied, dry white wines and very fresh in character. Most light white wines should be drunk when they are still young when their acidity and fruitiness have not yet decreased. Typical white wine grape varieties that fall in this category are Sauvignon Blanc, Alvarinho, Grüner Veltliner, and Pinot Gris.
My favorite Sauvignon Blanc is a light, dry, and crisp white wine. Generally, the wine has citrus notes and grassy aromas. When aged in oak, the wine has spice and vanilla flavors, as well.
This grape’s bright acidity makes it a great palate cleanser and a friend to light fare sprayed with citrus. With its grassy, herbaceous flavors, this wine makes an excellent partner for salads, green vegetables, and light fish dishes. Although it tastes great with grilled chicken as well, Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect pair for scallops or other shellfish.
These aromatic and fragrant white wines have very perfumed and sweet fruity aromas, but their taste can range from dry to sweet. They are made with grapes that tend to have stronger, distinctive flavors such as Gewürztraminer and Riesling.
These fragrant white wines are excellent pairings with Asian and Indian cuisine, as they match the sweet and sour flavors and soften the spiciness of the sauces.
Riesling is the wine lover’s white wine, the flagship wine of Germany, originating in the country’s Rhine Valley. Thanks to the fact it’s produced in every style ranging from dry to sweet, it’s absurdly versatile. Its fruity, floral flavors tend to pair well with various meals. Dry riesling is ideal for pork and poultry, while you can pour off-dry and even sweet rieslings with spicy Indian or Asian dishes. Dessert rieslings are also a winning pairing for fruit-based desserts.
RICH CREAMY WHITES
My favorite rich, creamy white wines are medium to full-bodied dry ones which are often aged in oak barrels to impart the oily-greasy notes of cream, vanilla and butter. They tend to have more complex flavors than lighter white wines. Typical white wine grape varieties in this category are Chardonnay, the French Sémillon, and the Viognier.
Chardonnay is grown globally but holds its own as the most popular wine varietal in America. Its best types are oaked-aged and have a buttery mouthfeel. This white wine can range from a racy, mineral-driven style full of tart green apples and citrus peel to something much lusher with notes of pineapple, melon, and Meyer lemon seasoned with a generous helping of oak-derived vanilla. Drink Chardonnay with creamy sauces, seafood, shellfish, roast chicken, or tasty mushroom risotto.
Viognier is for all the dedicated Chardonnay lovers out there. But this one is considerably more aromatic than a typical Chardonnay. This white grape which originated in the Northern Rhone was brought back from the brink of extinction. Juicy peach, mandarin orange and honeysuckle are the prevalent flavors you’ll discover in a glass of Viognier. As far as pairings go, this wine goes well with stewed fruits, dishes flavored with almonds and citrus, and aromatic herbs like basil or tarragon.
Rosé wines are light-bodied, dry, crisp, and really mouthwatering drinks that should be always fresh. Contrary to popular belief, most rosé wines aren’t made by combining white and red grape juice. Instead, they’re made by removing the skins from red grapes after a brief period of time, resulting in a wine that’s light, refreshing, and a pretty shade of pink.
The typical and one of my top-class rose wines originated from Provence in France which is a mega-popular, super-refreshing pale-pink rosé, from a blend of many grape varieties.
These pleasurable wines can be served on their own as an aperitif or paired with salads, seafood, grilled meat, and BBQ dishes.
SOFT FRUITY REDS
The red wines in this category are lighter in body and style with fruity flavors and low tannins. They are often not aged in oak but if they are, the oak aging will be light so that the fruit flavors dominate. These light reds are slightly translucent in color and moderately high in acidity. They are also known for their perfumed aromas. Typical fruity red wine grape varieties are Gamay and Pinot Noir.
My fav is Pinot Noir which hails from Burgundy, though you can find it in virtually every wine-growing country in the world. A light to medium-bodied red wine that is often sought after for its rich red and black fruit flavors mixed with hints of cola, flowers, and spice. Pinot Noir pairs best with wild game or veal.
SMOOTH, ELEGANT REDS
These red wines are generally light to medium in the body and can be produced from most red wine grapes. The key is that tannins will be fine, well-integrated, and balanced with the fruit, acidity, and alcohol. Good examples of this category are Merlot, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a glass of Chianti in Italy, as I did, then you’ve experienced the Sangiovese grape. This purple-red grape produces many styles of wine made throughout the country, all notable for their medium body, high tannins, red fruit flavors, and hints of spice. If you need a wine to pour for tomato-based dishes, then Sangiovese will do you right.
RICH, SPICY REDS
Dry red wines that are medium to full-bodied with character-rich dried fruits and often more developed flavors. The complex flavors will include more developed flavors from aging in bottles or in oak such as leather, cloves, etc. These wines usually have a high tannic acid content and an opal ruby color. Such full-bodied wines can be enjoyed on their own, or paired with dishes with a strong flavor. Typical grapes in this category are the Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Syrah, and Touriga Nacional.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most popular wine, originating in Bordeaux. Its rich, dark fruit flavors, combined with spices and other earthy aromas with its high tannin content make it a perfect pairing for rich grilled meats, juicy steak, and peppery sauces.
One of my top in this category is Malbec. Although originally produced in France, has been popularized by the Mendoza region in Argentina. This is a full-bodied, deep red wine that has dark berry fruit flavors and moderate tannins. Malbec is a great pairing for steak or other grilled meats.
This category is for refreshing sparkling wines, including my favorite, Champagne. Some drinkers use ‘Champagne’ as a catch-all term for sparkling wine, but the only wines that can truly claim the Champagne name must be produced in the Champagne region of France from grapes grown there. It can be made from both white and red grapes, but either way, you’ll end up with a phenomenal bottle packed with citrus notes, a bit of yeastiness, and a prominent fizz.
Champagne isn’t just an aperitif. Try pairing it with a salty or fried main course, they’ll match magically!
For every Champagne lover, the third Friday in October is the favorite day on the calendar when International Champagne Day is celebrated.
And you too can be part of it: take a moment to celebrate small moments in life on this day. Have dinner in a restaurant, enjoy a food and Champagne pairing event with your close friends, families, or colleagues, or simply share a glass of Champagne with the one you love.
For me, this category contains fortified and dessert wines.
I really like the fruity, red Ruby, and a white Port-Tonic cocktail is a must on a warm summer evening.
But my category favorite is Tokaji Aszú, the exceptional sweet white wine made with noble rot in the region of Tokaj in Hungary. And mainly not only of my origin (I grew up just a few miles from this region) but because of the fantastic aromas of this wine.
Tokaj is not only the world’s oldest closed wine region but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site the name Tokaj-Hegyalja.
These wines are made with up to 6 different grapes, including Furmint, Hárslevelű, and Sárgamuskotály. The production of Tokaji depends on fruit fungi called noble rot, or Botrytis Cinerea. The mold develops on the berries in most conditions and then dries when the sun comes out. This process of rotting and drying causes the grapes to shrivel and become sweet. Hungarians call berries with noble rot ‘Aszú’ grapes.
These wines range in style from semi-dry to sweet with flavors of honey, pineapple, beeswax, ginger, tangerine, and clove. A perfect pairing with sweet desserts.
This wine region is so special historically that it’s earning a visit. As a wine tour guide, every year from spring to autumn, I lead unique tours from Portugal to visit the Tokaj region.
Join me on my next journey!