Classification of Wines

Hundreds of varieties of wines are produced around the world, and no classification can cover all of them. The following is a functional classification of wines.

Dry or Sweet Wines. In dry wine all fermentable sugar is converted to alcohol. Typically the wine has about 8 to 12% alcohol. Examples are Chablis, Riesling, Burgundy, and Chianti. Sweet wine has some unfermented sugar. The alcohol is about 13 to 15%. Examples are Tokay and sau-terne.

Fortified or Unfortified. In fortified wine more alcohol is added to the product. Some examples are sherry, port, muscatel, and champagne. Unfortified wine is a wine in which all the alcohol resulted from fermentation.

Sparkling or Still. Sparkling wine is bottled before fermentation has ceased and liberates effervescence after the bottle is opened. Champagne made in France is the true example of fermentation in the bottle. To be able to show that the gas is generated in the bottle, a label can be printed as "fermented in this bottle." Injection of C02 into a wine to achieve effervescence is called crackling. In this case the manufacturer cannot claim that the wine is fermented in this bottle. Still wines are those in which fermentation ceased before bottling and no C02 exists.

Red or White. Fermentation of the skin of red grape will result in red wine such as claret, Burgundy, port, and chianti. Reisling is a good example of a white wine.

Generic Wine. Wines blended from several varieties of grapes are called generic wines. Examples are Burgundy, chianti, Chablis, and claret.

Variety Wine. Wines from predominately (at least 75%) one type of grape variety are variety wines. Examples are cabernet, pinot noir, zinfandel, and chardonnay.

Vintage Wine. Vintage wine must have at least 95% of the juice coming from the year claimed.

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