Believe it or not, Canada is actually a wine producing country! While we may not produce as much wine as Italy, France, or Argentina, wine is still a big part of many Canadians' lives.
Despite this, many people don't know about how wines work and are confused whenever they are handed a wine menu. This article will show you the basics of wine, how to look at a wine menu with confidence, and will allow you to look for more sophisticated to all your friends and family!
The strength and colour of wine is determined by tannins. Tannins are organic compounds that come off the grape and flavour the wine. The more tannins in a wine, the darker the wine will be. Generally speaking, the longer the wine has aged, the more tannins that are in it (so the wines are darker the more it ages).
White wines = low amount of tannins
Rosé wines = medium amount of tannins
Red wines = high amount of tannins
As diverse as wine can be they can mostly be categorized into 9 different types:
Light-bodied white wine
Light-bodied white wines are some of the most common wines sold! They have high acidity, the lowest tannins, and are the lightest wines to drink.
Types: albariño, assyrtiko, chasselas, chenin blanc, garganega (soave), grüner veltliner, picpoul, pinot grigio (pinot gris), sauvignon blanc, verdicchio, vermentino, vinho verde
Full-bodied white wine
Full-bodied white wines are stronger tasting than light-bodied and are rich and smooth with subtle creamy tastes.
Types: chardonnay, grenache blanc, marsanne, rioja blanco, roussanne, sémillon, viognier
Aromatic white wine
These are typically the strongest tasting white wines (though not always) with high tannins and sweet flavours, though there are some dry ones (not sweet ones). These wines usually have a strong perfume-like odor coming from them.
Types: gewürtztrammer, muscat blanc (moscatel, moscato, moschofilero, muskateller), riesling, torrontés,
Rosé is white wine that is 'dyed' with red wine grapes for a short while. Nearly any red grape can be made into a rosé (they just have to add white wine). This is the perfect mid-point between white wines and red wines.
Types: beaujolais rosé, cabernet franc rosé, garnacha rosé, pinot noir rosé, provence rosé, sangiovese rosé, syrah rosé (shiraz rosé), white zinfandel rosé
Light-bodied red wine
These are the lowest tannin red wines thus they have the lightest taste out of the red wines. They are very versatile food wines, especially with white meat such as chicken and fish.
Types: beaujolais, cinsault, frappato, gamay, lambrusco, mascalese, nerello, pinot noir, schiava, zweigelt
Medium-bodied red wine
Not too light or too heavy. This comes in a variety of flavours and pairs well with most foods. These wines tend to age very well.
Types: barbera, blaufränkisch, cabernet franc, carménère, dolcetto, grenache, mencía, merlot, montepulciano, nebbiolo, sangiovese, tempranillo, valpolicella, xinomavro, zinfandel
Full-bodied red wine
Deepest, darkest, strongest tasting wines with the highest amount of tannins. These wines age very well and are best drunk by themselves.
Types: bordeaux, cabernet sauvingnon, malbec, monastrell, negroamaro, nero d'avola, petite sirah, pinotage, sagrantino, syrah (shiraz), tannat, touriga nacional
Sparkling wines are carbonated wines which gives it that bubbly texture. Sparkling wines come in all kinds (white wine, rosé, and red wine) and sweetness levels. Labels saying “Brut,” “Extra Brut,” and “Brut Nature” are the most dry (not sweet).
Types: cap classique, cava, champagne, crémant, lambrusco, prosecco, sekt, sparklers
Dessert wines, or sweet wines as they're sometimes called, are all unique and the term 'dessert wine' is more of a catch-all name for many different types. Thus, there is a huge variety in the wines and how they're made. The only similarity is that they're all sweet.
Types: ice wine, madeira, marsala, moscatel de sebútal, port, sauternais, sherry, vin santo
We hope this guide helps you, and makes things easier for you, when looking for and deciding on your next bottle of wine!