New to wine? You’re in for a treat. Here are 10 of the most popular types of wine to get you started on your new adventure.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Probably the most popular red wine on the market, Cabernet Sauvignons are full-bodied, rich, and robust. You’ll often see them served alongside steak or other meat-based meals. Cabs usually have earthy, dark fruit flavours and often hold a spicy aroma.
2. Pinot Noir
Smoother and lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noirs are medium-bodied and fruit forward. This grape does best in cooler climates and pairs well with everything from sushi to wild game. Cherry is the aroma most commonly associated with this grape and Pinot Noirs are also known to offer a long, lingering finish.
Also known as Shiraz in its Australian variety, Syrah is bold, rich, and heavy. Notably complex, Syrah generally contains notes of dark fruit, pepper and spice. Most often served alongside rich, hearty dishes, the sweeter more jam-like quality of Shiraz is better for casual sipping and typically considered more versatile.
Another very popular wine, and one of the most prominent grapes to emerge from the Bordeaux region of France, Merlot is highly drinkable and very fruit-forward. The smooth tannins lend a level of complexity to this beloved grape, and Merlots often feature notes of spice or vanilla thanks to oak-aging. A versatile wine through and through, Merlot is great on its own but can also stand up to a rich meal like duck.
A unique grape that has developed something of a cult following, Malbec has been largely popularized by the Mendoza region in Argentina. A fabulous companion for anything grilled, Malbec is full-bodied with moderate tannins. This dark, inky purple wine has plenty of acidities and often holds flavours of plum and black cherry.
Zinfandel is one of the only grapes believed to be indigenous to America and is grown prolifically in California. It is an extremely versatile grape and is now cultivated into many different styles. Commonly aged in oak, many Zinfandel wines will contain fruit flavours alongside an earthy spiciness. It tends to be relatively high in alcohol and therefor presents a strong flavour on the tongue. It stands up well to smoked meat.
7. Sauvignon Blanc
Light, dry, and crisp, Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect wine to sip on a hot summer day. It is characterized by citrus notes and grassy aromas. Sometimes asked in oak, it can also take the flavours of spice and vanilla.
8. Pinot Grigio
The go-to white wine of Italy, Pinot Grigio is light and refreshing. It often holds crisp fruit flavours, like apple or pear and pairs extremely well with seafood. Depending on the cultivation process, Pinot Grigio can be closer to a medium-body and sometimes contain floral or mineral aromas.
One of the primary wines of Germany, it is important to make a distinction between the many varieties that now fall under the Riesling umbrella. Often considered to be among the sweetest white wines, there are also many dry Rieslings which appeal to those who tend to avoid anything semi-sweet of sweeter. Riesling also tends to be high in acidity, which helps balance the honey flavour and adds notable minerality. Riesling is great served alongside spicy dishes.
Certainly the most popular white wine in America, Chardonnay is characterized by its oaky flavour and buttery feel in the mouth. It is often described as having pear or apple notes, and sometimes even spice or vanilla. All of these qualities make it the perfect wine to serve with cream-based dishes and sauces.