Common Types of Wine (Wine 101)

Varieties of Grapes

A common misconception is that wine is made from the same type of grape that a consumer can buy at the grocery store; however, grapes used to make wine are very different! The grapes have fairly thick skin, contain seeds, are sweet, and small! Although there are thousands of varieties of grapes, we will cover the varietals that are planted the most!

Difference Between Single-Varietal and Wine Blends

Wine that is made from a single grape is referred to as “Single-Varietal wine.” If a wine is made of several different grapes combined it is described as a “Wine Blend.” A vintage wine is one made from grapes that were all, or primarily, grown and harvested in a single specified year. If there is not a specified vintage year, then it is assumed that the particular wine is a non-vintage (NV), or a blend of several vintages.

Chardonnay - “Char-dun-nay”

Description: Planted in great amounts originally in France, Chardonnay is a dry full-bodied white wine. Un-oaked Chardonnay tends to be lighter and more fruity than an oaked Chardonnay.

Taste:  Rich citrus (lemon, grapefruit) flavors. Fermenting in new oak barrels add a buttery tone (vanilla, toast, coconut, toffee).

Style: Full-bodied white wine.

Food Pairing: Chicken, Pork, Lobster, Crab, and soft cheeses such as brie.

Pinot Gris - “Pee-no-gree” (Much like our Beachaven Classic White Wine)

Description: Pino grapes are extensively planted in Italy, but can also be found in Western Coastal regions of the USA. Pino Grigios are typically light to medium bodied with a slight bitter taste.

Taste: Delicately fragrant and mildly floral with light lemon and citrus flavors.

Style: Light-bodied white wine

Food Pairing: Salads, Fish, and light or mild cheeses.

Riesling - “Reese-ling”

Description: Riesling is the classic German grape, but can be grown in all wine regions. Germany’s Riesling is usually slightly sweet, but Riesling from the US is different in style. They are equally aromatic but typically drier.

Taste: Rieslings are far lighter than Chardonnay wines. Aromas include fresh apples, but varieties express themselves very differently depending on the district and winemaking.

Style: Varying in sweetness, Rieslings are usually very high in acids. Depending on winemaking style, the wine can be considered off-dry.

Food Pairing: Indian Thai, German, Chicken, Pork, Turkey, Duck, and wash-rind cheese.

Cabernet Sauvignon - "Cab-er-nay Saw-vin-yawn”

Description: Cabernet is planted wherever red grapes will grow. It is among the finest reds in Australia, Chile, and California.

Taste: Firm and gripping tastes of black cherry, black currant, and cedar (from oak barrels).

Style: Full-bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Beef, smoked meats, lamb, and firm cheese like aged Cheddar or Pecorino

Syrah - “Sear-ah”

Description: Syrah grapes excel in California, Australia, and France’s Rhone Valley. Heavy in fruit flavors and tannins, this wine has a bold meaty quality.

Taste: Aromas and flavors of wild black fruit with overtones of black pepper spice and roasting meat.

Style: Full-bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Mediterranean, French, lamb, smoked meats, beef, and American firm cheeses like white Cheddar and Manchego.

Pinot Noir - “Pee-no Nwar” (Much like our Beachaven Chambourcin Red Wine)

Description: One of the noblest red wine grapes, Pinot Noir is difficult to grow, rarely blended with no roughness. This wine is high in acidity and contains soft tannin texture. It was first planted widely in France.

Taste: Notes of cherry and cranberry fill the paler with appealing vegetal flavors of mushroom, beet, and rhubarb.

Style: Lighter-bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Pork, Chicken, French, German, cream sauces, Duck, and soft cheese like Gruyére.

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