Making a good wine is an art , there is no doubt about it. Although learning to select and taste it also deserves a separate chapter.
Almost all wines contain such subtle nuances in their aroma, taste and texture that they are practically imperceptible when “simply” it is drunk. That is why I want to invite you to take another step.
The fact that you are reading us does not imply that you are in your mind to become a sommelier, but at least that you are a lover of this unique broth and that you are interested in experiencing all its nuances and fully enjoying its complexity .
If so, you could not have come to a better place because in my mind is that you learn everything about the types and classification of wines.
How many and what types of wines are there?
Knowing and judging a wine is a skill that not everyone masters . The aroma, color and flavor of the broths are the hallmarks that only people prepared for it are able to distinguish and value.
There are countless types of wines that exist and the repertoire of adjectives that describe them seems endless. Do the terms doomed, happy, rough, balsamic, thick, hollow, or doughy mean anything to you?
As soon as you belong to the select club of fans of wine culture, surely you will.
These and many more are the names given to some wines that even God Bacchus himself made his own , instructing mortals in the science of growing vines and making wine.
Would this have something to do with her rebirth every spring?
How to differentiate and identify the types of wine
When it comes to differentiating and identifying the types of wine, there are many factors that must be taken into account .
Without further ado, let’s go on to analyze the large number of types of wines that exist in oenology and that, in general terms, are classified according to the following characteristics:
- Traditional wines: are those obtained through the natural alcoholic fermentation of grape juice or must and, therefore, lack carbon dioxide (bubbles).
- Wines with carbonic gas: they have carbonic gas in their composition, either produced naturally or added artificially.
- Special wines: fortified or generous, seasoned, chacolís, flavored or sweet or dessert wines are included in this classification.
- Varietal or multivarietal wines: depending on the number of types of grapes involved in their production, a distinction is made between varietal or monovarietal wines and cut, generic, assemblage or multivarietal wines.
- Wines , table wines or wines with Designation of Origin (PDO) depending on its origin.
- Other classifications: ice wines, boutique wines or mass wines would constitute the bulk of this last division.
Classification of Spanish wines
The variety of grapes and wines produced in Spain is high and of such quality that we can boast that some of our wines are not made anywhere else on the planet.
Not surprisingly, Spain is the corner of the world with the largest number of vineyards and the third largest producer of wines.
However, this figure does not correspond to the consumption of wine per inhabitant since, in this sense, other countries such as China or the United States are ahead of us.
The classification of Spanish wines is very extensive and there are multiple criteria under which it can be done. Since it would be impossible for us to collect them all, we will stick to the most popular classifications:
If there is a simple distinction to appreciate with the naked eye, that is the classification of types of wines by color, the main ones being:
Made mainly from red grapes which give it its peculiar color. Since the color is found in the skin, it is normal for the fermentation to take place with the must and the skin.
Made from white or red grapes ( uncolored pulp). In this second case, the secret lies in separating the must from the skin immediately so that no coloration occurs.
The common thing is that the fermentation is carried out with must, separated from skins, stalks and seeds, among others. Aging it is not frequent, which is not an obstacle to the existence of aged white wines.
Among the white wines, some varieties stand out such as:
- Vinho verde or green wine. Wine of Portuguese origin with little maturation.
- Vin Jaune or yellow wine. Wine from the French region of Jura, made with grapes belonging to the Savagnin variety, which have been harvested late and have a high sugar content.
Made from red grapes . The color taking of this variety is due to the fact that a certain maceration of the grape is allowed prior to the pressing of the must, so that the latter takes on some color. Subsequently, the filtered must is fermented.
Among the rosé wines, the following varieties stand out:
- Made in a similar way to red wine. Its fermentation is carried out with skins, but with the exception that a high percentage of white grapes is used, which is why the wine obtained is pale or with little color.
- Made with the soft press of red grapes with hardly any maceration from which a very light rosé wine is obtained.
By age and aging
To address the classification of Spanish wines by aging, it is necessary to indicate that the life of a wine has a limit . There is an upward evolution in its quality until the wine reaches its maximum expression.
From there, the deterioration of it begins. The point of maximum quality of a wine is not likely to exceed the period of 15 or 20 years.
Based on its age or aging, we distinguish between wine:
- Young, of the year or of harvest. The French call it vin primeur and it is a wine with less than six months of aging in barrels, so it does not reach the minimum period required to be considered an aged wine. What’s more, there are even young wines that have not undergone the aging process.
- Breeding. A wine with a minimum of 2 years of aging that is reduced to 18 months in the case of whites and rosés. Of these, at least 6 months are aged in barrels.
- Reservation. A wine with a minimum of 3 years of aging that is reduced to 2 years in the case of whites and rosés. They are aged in barrels for at least one year (white and rosé wines for 6 months). The rest of the time it ages in the bottle.
- Great Reserve. A wine with a minimum of 5 years of aging that is reduced to 4 years in the case of whites and rosés. They are aged in barrels for at least 18 months (white and rosé wines for 6 months). The rest of the time it ages in the bottle.
For sugar and sweetness
The classification that I am going to indicate is not official, so it would be subject to variations in different countries. Thus, the types of Spanish wines by sugar and sweetness are:
- Dried. Contains less than 5g of sugar per liter of wine.
- Semi dry. Contains between 5 and 30g of sugar per liter of wine.
- Semisweet Contains between 30 and 50g of sugar per liter of wine.
- Sweet. Contains more than 50g of sugar per liter of wine.
By gas quantity
Wines with the presence of carbon dioxide (produced naturally or through its artificial addition), can be white, red or rosé. However, the normal thing is that in the case of these wines there is no classification by color.
According to the amount of gas, we talk about wine:
- Needle. Due to its varietal origin or its unique elaboration, it preserves a minimum amount of carbon dioxide that comes from the fermentation of its own or added sugars. Once the bottle is opened, said carbonic gas is released, giving rise to the famous bubbles, but without actually producing foam. The pressure of the gas it contains (measured at 20 degrees Celsius) is less than 3 atmospheres.
Sometimes we proceed to distinguish between sparkling wine (whose pressure is between 1 and 2 atmospheres) and pearl wine or pearl wine (whose pressure is between 2 or 3 atmospheres).
However, both wines are similar, the only difference being the amount of carbon dioxide they contain.
- Sparkling. They retain a higher content of carbon dioxide which, when the bottle is uncorked and the wine is poured, forms a foam with a sensible persistence, which is followed by a continuous release of bubbles. At 20 degrees Celsius and in a closed bottle, the dissolved carbon dioxide is at a pressure greater than 3 atmospheres.
Within the sparkling wines the varieties are distinguished:
- Traditional sparkling. Like champagne or cava, with carbon dioxide obtained naturally from a second fermentation in the bottle.
- Sparkling sparkling wine. Also called frizers . With carbon dioxide added during the bottling process.
According to the number of types of grape
The quantity of types of grape that takes part in the production of a wine also gives rise to different varieties. Thus, according to the number of types of grapes involved in its production, we speak of:
- Varietal or monovarietal. Made mostly with a single type of grape. European Union legislation considers wines whose main grape content exceeds 80% as varietals. Some examples are Tempranillo , Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec or Garnacha . The aromatic character of a wine with a predominance of aroma of a specific grape is also known as monovarietal.
- Cutting, assemblage, generic or multivarietal. Made from a minimum of two grape varieties (bivarietales). The Bordeaux wines or the Chateau Neuf du Pape from the Pódano Valley are well known , whose combination can reach 13 varieties. The common denominator of these wines is the search for the complement and supplement among the varieties of a specific region, with the aim that each one contributes its best characteristic. Their combination possibilities know no limit, given that there are more than 4,500 recognized varieties of wine grapes.
Other types of wines: specials
The specials are wines from fresh grapes, must or wines that have undergone treatments during or after production.
Its characteristics, beyond being determined only by the grape, also depend on the technique used in its production process.
Also called fortified or fortified . A wine that incorporates special processes in its production process that increase its stability and alcohol content, but does not lose its status as a 100% grape derivative.
Sweet for dessert
Dessert wine is also known as sweet wine because its sweet flavor makes it an appropriate broth to accompany desserts . Such wine is called in the Anglo-Saxon countries pudding wine . In particular, on the Australian continent it is called stickie (sticky) as it can be very cloying.
Among the most acclaimed are Pedro Ximénez (PDO Montilla-Moriles), Malaga wine, Sauterne s or Tokaji Aszu . Despite their name, many of them are taken alone, at the end of meals.
Some other varieties of dessert wines are the poisoned, the chacolí or the aromatized , all of them highly appreciated inside and outside our borders.
So far everything we wanted to tell you about types of wines and their classification.
Some delicious varieties that it is essential to know to know to choose the one that best pairs with our dishes, making a simple meal an authentic gastronomic feast.
After all, the type of wine determines its character, being the easiest trait to perceive and determine when tasting a good wine. Enjoy!