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Blush and Rosé wines are very different in taste as well as aroma. Blush wines are sweet and generally only produced in the United States, these tend to have halted fermentations intentionally leaving high residual sugar values. Rosé wines are typically dry wines that are fully fermented. Both refer to their respective pink colors. The pink tone can range from a soft, subtle pink to a vibrant, hot pink color, depending on the kind of grapes used and how long the skins of the grape were in contact with the juice. The majority of Blush and Rosé wines are made from a red grape varietal. For dryer styles of Rosé, try those from Southern France, Italy and Spain. For sweet Blush wines look for White Zinfandel and White Merlot offerings from California.
Cabernet Sauvignon is often referred to as the “King of Red Wine Grapes” and is the most widely planted and significant among the five dominant varieties from France’s Bordeaux region, as well as the most successful red wine produced in California. Typically, Cabernet Sauvignon wines smell like black currants with a degree of spice, smoke or mineral. In the mouth, Cabernets are rich and full. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are ideal for aging since 5-10 years is the optimal time for the maturation process to peak, depending upon the region and style of wine. Some Bordeaux-based Cabernet Sauvignon wines can last a century.
Chablis is a type of Chardonnay-based wine produced in France’s Burgundy region. Chablis is a dry white wine, made of 100 percent Chardonnay grapes, and is found in one of the northerly appellations of Burgundy. Chablis is one of several Burgundian forms of Chardonnay not aged in oak, but instead is fermented in stainless steel or a vat, making this a lighter-bodied, crisp white wine.
Chianti is a dry red wine made from the Sangiovese grape with other blending grapes strictly controlled by appellation regulations. The dry taste of Chianti improves when eaten with appropriate food. Chianti, high in acidity, can range from light to full-bodied and displays aromas mingling with flavors of cherry, savory herbs, violets and often roses.
Champagne is a sparkling white wine made from a blend of grapes, especially Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, produced in France’s Champagne appellation, a historical region in northeastern France. Known for its bubbles, it is widely used for celebrations.
Chardonnay, America’s number one selling white wine varietal, has an impressive range of flavors, including the expected buttered, oak overtones to the fresh, fruit flavors of apple, pear, tropical, citrus and melon. Chardonnays leave a lasting palate impression.
Bordeaux, Burgundy, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Provence and the Rhone Valley comprise the six dominant French Red wine regions. These regions are known for particular grape varietals as dictated by the district’s appellation regulations, utilizing indigenous grapes. Popular red varietals include: Merlot, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre and Pinot Noir.
Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Provence and the Rhône Valley comprise the seven dominant French White wine regions. These regions are known for particular grape varietals as dictated by the district’s indigenous grape-growing regions. Popular white varietals include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Viognier and Riesling.
Made from virtually any plant that can be fermented, Fruit Wines are fermented alcoholic beverages and can be made from a variety of ingredients (other than grapes). However, some of these products do require the addition of sugar or honey to sweeten them and increase the alcoholic content. Two of the most common varieties are elderberry wine and dandelion wine.
A white grape that is grown in France, Germany, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, Gewurztraminer prefers a cooler climate, where the flavors have an opportunity to become more concentrated. These wines tend to pair well with Asian dishes and zesty-flavored fare, like BBQ or chicken wings. The flavor and aromas often include rose, pear, citrus, spice and mineral.
With well over a thousand registered in Italy, only 21 compose Italy’s major red grape varieties. Several of these are especially important, either for the quality of wine they produce or for their dissemination throughout the country. These include: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola and Aglianico.
Ranging from sweet and sparkling to crisp and dry, Italian white wines are made up of 17 major grapes, including these five key varietals: Trebbiano, Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, Vernaccia and Tocai Friulano. Other important, popular grapes in the country’s extraordinary white wine landscape: Arneis, Chardonnay, Moscato, Soave and Sauvignon.
Kosher wine is wine produced according to Judaism’s religious law, specifically, Jewish dietary laws. To be considered kosher, Sabbath-observant Jews must be involved in the entire winemaking process and any ingredients used, must be kosher. Wine that is described as “kosher for Passover” must have been kept free from contact with grain, bread and dough.
Malbec is a purple grape variety used in making red wine. These grapes tend to have a dark color and are known as one of the six grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. Originating in the southwestern part of France, Malbec is increasingly being grown around the world, especially in Argentina.
Merlot – one of the most popular red wine varietals in many markets – is a darkly blue-colored wine grape, used for both varietal wines and blending, because of its softness and early ripening. Merlot-based wines usually have medium body with hints of berry, plum and currant. Merlot is one of the primary grapes in Bordeaux wine and is the most widely planted grape.
The Muscat variety of grapes is not only widely grown for Moscato wine, but also for raisins and table grapes. With colors ranging from white to near black, Muscat almost always has a pronounced sweet, floral aroma. Although Muscat grapes are grown around the world, in Italy they are most widely used in sweet sparkling wines.
Petite Syrah or Sirah is a small-berried, red wine grape that is grown primarily in California and France. The fruit character of a Petite Syrah centers around blackberry, black cherry, blueberry and plum. Sometimes, Petite Syrahs (Sirahs) feature a smoky component or a black pepper presence.
Demanding optimum growing conditions, Pinot Noir is considered to be one of the toughest grapes to grow, opting for consistently warm days supported by cool evenings. Pinot Noir is Burgundy’s most famous grape. Known and loved as “Red Burgundy” in much of the world, Pinot Noir was originally grown in France. Today, Pinot Noir is planted in regions around the world, including Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, France, Spain, Germany and Italy.
Produced from the Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris) grape varietal in the northeast region of Veneto and Friuli, Pinot Grigio is Italy’s most popular white wine. A light, crisp white wine, Pinot Grigio flavors can range from melon or pear to subtle tropical or citrus; sometimes a honey or smoky flavor is present as well. Pinot Grigio is typically a pale, straw-like yellow with golden hues. Also known as Pinot Gris in France’s Alsatian region and in Oregon.
By definition, Port is made by adding brandy to wine. This addition helps the wine stay fresh throughout the aging process, but it also makes the wine considerably sweeter. Ports have a reputation for being higher in alcohol than other still wines.
Wine blends offer more complexity than single varietal wines. In fact, some of the world’s greatest wines are considered to be blends. By blending two similar red varietals, winemakers can change a wine’s qualities. Red wine blends can be found from wine regions all over the world.
A Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France, centered on the city of Bordeaux. Most of the wine – 89 percent in fact – produced in Bordeaux is red and is generally made from a blend of grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère.
From the Burgundy region of France, Red Burgundy wines are the most famous wines in France and are commonly referred to as “Burgundies”, which are dry red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes.
Riesling grapes prefer to be grown in cool areas, especially in Germany and the Pacific Northwest, and are used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. As of 2004, Riesling was estimated to be the world’s 20th most grown variety.
A traditional alcoholic drink of Japan, Saki – also known as Rice Wine in some English speaking countries – is made from fermented rice and traditionally served warm in small porcelain cups. Unlike wine, where the alcohol is produced by fermenting the sugar naturally present in grapes and other fruits, sake is produced by a brewing process, similar to the way that beer is produced.
Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Loire Valley of France and now is also produced in New Zealand’s cool Marlborough region. Usually a dry white wine with distinctive herbaceous qualities, Sauvignon Blanc can also feature tropical fruit flavors.
A Spanish wine ranging from very dry to sweet, with color ranging from amber to brown, Sherry is produced in southwest Spain’s Sherry Triangle, consisting of the towns of Puerto de Santa María, Jerez and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. The Palomino and Pedro Ximénez grapes are those primarily used to make Sherry.
Full-bodied and higher in alcohol content than most whites, Spanish Red wines are typically are aged in oak and usually aged longer than wines from other countries. Tempranillo, the Spanish Red wine grape, is the second most widely planted grape variety, recently surpassing Garnacha in plantings in 2004.
The high levels of carbon dioxide make Sparkling wine fizzy, a direct result of natural fermentation – either in a bottle, a large tank, or as a result of carbon dioxide injection. Sparkling wine is usually white or rose in color.
In the wine world, sweet is the opposite of dry. The majority of the world’s red wines are made in a dry-style, meaning that they have lower levels of residual sugar (RS). Often sought after as an introduction to wine or as a “transitionary wine” from white to red, sweet red wines feature high levels of RS.
In France, it is known and grown as Syrah, noted to be a bold red wine. However, in Australia and South Africa, it goes by “Shiraz,” which is Australia’s spicy, big-hitting red wine. As for the grape, it is a deep-purple color and produces medium to full-bodied wines.
Flavored with herbs and used chiefly in mixed drinks, Vermouth can be either a sweet or a dry fortified wine. Known commonly as an aromatized wine, Vermouth gets additional flavor from sugar, herbs, roots, flowers and spices, which does not change its alcohol content – usually falling between 15 and 19 percent.
A white wine grape, Viognier is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu, and depending on where they are grown, Viognier wines’ aromas can be both flowery – as found in Muscat and Riesling wines – and fruity.
Offering more complexity than single varietal wines, White Blends are actually created by blending two white wines together. This blending creates a yellowish to amber color, which is derived from the light-colored grapes used in production. Dark grapes can also be used if their skins, pulp and seeds have been removed before fermentation. White Blends are not as common as Red Blends.
White Bordeaux, typically made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, usually consists of 80 percent Sémillon and 20 percent Sauvignon Blanc. Other permitted grape varieties are Sauvignon Gris, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Merlot Blanc, Ondenc and Mauzac.
White Zinfandel is actually made from the red Zinfandel grape. The grape skins are removed after being crushed, so there is less contact time with the heavily pigmented red grape skin. This results in a pink or rose colored wine, instead of a deep red wine. White Zinfandel pairs well with a wide variety of foods, ranging from Cajun and Asian fare to BBQ chicken and seafood entrees.
Zinfandel, the red wine known for its rich, dark color scheme and a higher alcohol content, features flavors like raspberry, blackberry, cherry, plums, raisins, spice and black pepper. Zinfandel pairs well with plenty of meat: lamb, poultry, beef, game and some fish.