Classification of Wines or Types of wines
- This is the largest category in the Classification of Wines. The alcoholic strength may be between 9% and 15% by volume. The wines may be:
- Red: being fermented in contact with grape skins from which the wine gets its colour. Normally dry wines.
- White: usually produced from white grapes, but the grape juice (must) is usually fermented away from the skins. Normally dry to very sweet.
- Rose: made in three ways – from red grapes fermented on the skins for up to 48 hours; by mixing red and white wines together; or by pressing grapes so that some colour is extracted.
- It may be dry or semi-sweet. These are called blush wines in the USA when made wholly from red grapes.
- The most famous is Champagne. This is made by the methode champenoise (secondary fermentation in the bottle) in an area of north-eastern France.
- Effervescent wines made outside this area are called vins mousseux or sparkling wines and are made by either the methode champenoise (now to be called methode traditionelle), the Charmat method (tank fermented and sometimes termed the methode cuve close), the transfer method, or the carbonation method.
- They may vary from brut (very dry), sec (medium dry), demi-sec (medium sweet), to doux (sweet).
- Fortified wines such as Sherry, Port and Madeira have been strengthened by the addition of alcohol, usually a grape spirit.
- These are now known within the EC as liqueur wines or vins de liqueur. Their alcoholic strength may be between 15% and 22%, by volume.
- Sherry (from Spain) 15-18% ; made from white grapes -fino (dry), amontillado (medium), oloroso (sweet)
- Port (from Portugal) 18-22% ; strong sweet; typically drunk as a dessert wine – ruby, tawny, vintage character, late bottled vintage, vintage
- Madeira 18% (famous dessert wine; made on the Portuguese island of Madeira) – Sercial (dry), Verdelho (medium), Bual (sweet), Malmsey (very sweet)
- Marsala 18% – a dark sweet wine from Marsala in Sicily
- An aromatised wine must have a minimum alcohol content of 14.5% by volume and a maximum alcohol content of 22% by volume according to EU law Council Regulation (EEC)
- The majority of older brands come from France and Italy but there are now a range of small ‘craft’ producers around the world.
The process central to vinification (wine making) is fermentation – the conversion of sugar by yeast to alcohol and carbon dioxide.
This process is also necessary to the making of all alcoholic beverages – not only for still, sparkling and fortified wines, but also spirits, liqueurs and beers (although some variations and further processes will be applied for different types of beverages).