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The Different Types of Wine

Beaujolais - light, fruity red wine from the Beaujolais region in Southern Burgundy, France.

Bordeaux - These grapes are grown in the major wine region of Southwestern France, the source of some of the world's greatest table wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and other minor grapes.

Brunello di Montalcino - Excellent red Italian wine from Tuscany, a neighbor of Chianti.

Cabernet - Cabernet is known for its depth and rich flavor and is one of the most popular red wines. Its deep red color and predominantly black currant flavor are a sure bet when served with meat. The Cabernet grape is grown all over the world - try one from France, South America, Australia, Northern California, or even New York!

Cabernet Sauvignon - One of the noblest red wine grapes, used in Bordeaux, also as either a 100 percent varietal or in red blends in the U.S., Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and wherever wine grapes grow.

Chianti - Classic dry red wine from Tuscany. Remember the days of wicker-wrapped bottles and spaghetti? Today, Chianti is more respected as a serious table wine. So much so, that the pricey version "Super Tuscan" wines incorporate Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and other non-traditional blends. Chianti Classico is made from grapes grown in the central part of the region and considered more desirable. Chianti Classico Riserva spends additional time aging in oak barrels.

Claret - This is an old, British synonym for red Bordeaux.

Concord - Native to America, this wine is often described as having the "grape jelly" aroma and flavor of old-fashioned, country-style, and traditional Kosher reds. Wine tasters often refer to these flavors as "foxy."

Gamay - These are light, fresh, and fruity red-wine grapes of Beaujolais from Southern Burgundy, France. Those grown and made in California are known as Napa Gamay.

Madeira - Pour some Madeira, m'deara! Madeira is produced in the Portuguese island in the Atlantic off the North African coast by the same name.

Merlot - Black cherry and herbal flavors are typical of this smooth and mellow red wine. If you're new to wine, Merlot is a great one to start with. "A glass of Merlot" has recently become synonymous with "a glass of red wine." The Merlot is a very good red-wine grape, and a key player in the Bordeaux blend, although more recently stands on its own, especially in California and, increasingly, Washington State.

Petite Sirah - A Warm and plummy, dark red wine, these grapes are typical of those grown in a warm climate. This is a California red grape similar to those grown in the Rhone and the wine is single-dimensional.

Piemonte - These grapes are grown in the Northwestern Italian wine region in the Alpine foothills, producer of some of the world's greatest wines. "Piemonte" literally means "the foot of the mountains."

Pinot Noir - This classic red grape makes very complex cherry and earthy-tasting wines with a velvety texture. Its flavor is widely accepted and appreciated as one of the world's best. Originating in Burgundy, this is not an easy-to-grow grape. California and Oregon have recently met with success, but elsewhere in the world, growing these grapes has proven more of a challenge.

Port - Port wines come from the Douro Valley in Portugal. Very smooth and thick, these wines are best when sipped from small glasses - perfect in front of the fireplace after a hard day!

Riesling - Germany's great Rieslings are usually made slightly sweet and "apple-y," with strong, steely acidity for balance. (Don't let the diesel fuel-like aroma put you off. It's really not unpleasant.) The greatest German Rieslings are among the best the world has to offer. The classic German grape is grown in Rhine and Mosel. Alsatian Riesling is also excellent, but usually dry. California Rieslings are a little sweeter.

Syrah - Often characterized by a floral, black pepper fragrance, this classic Rhone red grape is thought to have been brought back from Shiraz in Persia by the 14th-Century crusader Gaspard de Sterimberg.

Valpolicella - Light, refreshing red wine from the Veneto of Northeastern Italy.

Zinfandel - At its best, Zinfandel is a lively fruity, ripe and red wine with blackberry and raspberry fragrances. It has been called the American wine grape because it reaches its pinnacle of performance in California.

White Wines

Chablis - A good white wine made from Chardonnay grapes in the Chardonnay northern Burgundy. It has been widely used as a generic term for "white wine" by makers of inexpensive American jug wines.

Chardonnay - Fresh and fruity, Chardonnay is one of the world's most well-known white wine grapes. They are easy to grow, and while they originated in Burgundy, are widely planted in the U.S., Australia, and all over the world. Recently, "Chardonnay" has become almost synonymous with a generic "glass of white wine." Apple and green-apple aromas are the classic descriptor, although tropical fruit, melon, peach, and pineapple show up commonly, especially in American and Australian Chardonnays. When aged in oak, it may add the vanilla, spice, and tropical fruit flavors typical of oak.

Chenin Blanc - Light and fruity, Chenin Blanc is a French grape, most commonly found in the Loire, but also grown in California and elsewhere. These grapes make very fine white wines both dry and slightly sweet. A glass of Chenin Blanc may also exhibit honeydew and cantaloupe melon flavors with a light muskiness.

Colombard - Tropical and fruity, this productive white-wine grape is grown in South Africa and California. Complements seafood nicely. It is also one of the grapes used primarily in California's Central Valley to make inexpensive, neutral jug wines.

Fumé Blanc - A dry U.S wine, Fumé Blanc is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc. It was invented and marketed by Robert Mondavi during the 1970s and is widely imitated today.

Gewürztraminer - Off-dry to sweet and highly aromatic, why not add a little spice to your life with this floral, nutty wine? The word "Gewurz" means "spice" in German. While it might be tough to pronounce, it's easy to drink, especially if you're serving spicy foods. This white wine grape is best known in Alsace, Germany, California, Italy, Australia, and New York.

Pinot Blanc - A dry, full white wine similar to Chardonnay, but the Pinot Blanc is typically medium in body and sometimes has a melon scent.

Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio - These French and Italian names, respectively, are for the same grape, a typically dry and very crisp and acidic white wine with a light musky aroma. These go great with seafood and fish dishes. They are commonly found in Alsace, Northeastern Italy, Germany, Australia, and increasingly Oregon, where they take on the French name.

Pouilly-Fuissé - Smooth, this White Burgundy, Chardonnay-based wine is made in the region of the same name. Can you say "POO-yee Fwee-SAY?" That's reason enough to make this a very popular wine in the U.S.

Pouilly-Fumé - Dry, lean, and tart, this is a Loire white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc. This is an excellent seafood wine.

Sauternes - Great French dessert wine from the Bordeaux district of Sauterne. It's made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. "Sauternes" is not to be confused with "Sauterne," an inexpensive sweet jug wine from the U.S.

Sauvignon Blanc - Grassy and crisp, this white grape is native to the Loire and Bordeaux regions, and is also widely grown in the Western U.S., South America, Australia, and New Zealand. This is a great table wine served with meals.

Shiraz and Syrah - Blueberry and spicy, Shiraz is the Australian synonym for Syrah.

Tokay - Very sweet, great Hungarian dessert wine with a distinctive golden raisin flavor.

Vouvray - Table wines range from dry through slightly sweet. This outstanding Loire white, based on Chenin Blanc also makes a spectacular dessert wine.

White Rieslings - Fruity and sometimes floral flavored, this is a sweet white wine that goes great with dessert. The best ones come from Germany and California.

Blush or Rosé Wines

Rosé - A good, dry, crisp rosé or vin gris can be a refreshing treat at a picnic or on a hot summer day. These pink wines are typically made by using red grapes and removing the skins before they have had time to leave behind too much color. These wines may also be labeled "Vin Gris" ("gray wine") and, among popular, inexpensive American pink wines, "blush."

White Zinfandel - Usually simple and often slightly sweet "Blush" wine, usually California, made by removing red Zinfandel grapes from the juice before they impart significant color. See Zinfandel, below.

Grenache - This is a rose wine that's sweet and fruity. The Red-wine grape is commonplace in Languedoc and the Rhone, also California and, as Garnacha, in Spain. The Grenache grape is used to make hearty, peppery wines.

Sparkling Wines

Champagne - Sparkling wine, specifically the type made in the French region of the same name using a traditional process in which the wine gains its sparkle by a secondary fermentation in the bottle, and made only from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier grapes. Some U.S. wineries still appropriate the name for their sparkling wines, a practice illegal in Europe.

Spumante - The Italian word for "sparkling wine," it literally means "foaming." It is most commonly used with its source, as in "Asti Spumante."

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