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ADVANCED WINEMAKING BASICS

TYPES AND STYLES OF WINE

"We've got wine and we've got wine.
What type do you want, and in which style?"



There is a great deal of misnomer (and perhaps hyperbole) in the world of home winemaking having to do with types and styles of wine. It is the latter word that causes so much confusion. A winemaker I truly respect for his organized, coherent and sometimes original approach to winemaking wrote on his web site of making a Chardonnay in "an elegant, crisp, more floral/citrus style...." These are not my words, but I have received three requests in the past two years for recipes in the "floral/citrus style." Well, this is not what I learned to consider as a "style" of wine and so I had to refer these folks to the other winemaker.

So, given the above, what do I consider to be a type and what do I consider to be a style of wine? In my mind, I think in terms of classes of wine (still and sparkling), categories of wine (within the "class" of still wines, for example: apéritif, red table, white table, rosè and blush, dessert, social), types of wine (within the "class" of dessert, for example: sweet sherry, Madeira, Malaga, Marsala, Muscatel, Port, Tokay, and possibly Sauterne), and finally styles of wine. "Styles" are dictated by the "type" of wine, the base used to make the wine and how much of it is used, and/or a particular technique used in its production. For example, the various "styles" of dessert port may be ruby, tawny, crusted, colheita/vintage, and late bottled vintage. Quite differently, the various "styles" of mustang grape red table wine one usually thinks of are heavu bodied, medium bodied and light bodied, and each of these may be made dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet. In truth, it gets a little more complicated than this.

Within the "class" of still wines, there are flavored wines, blended wines, wines from Vitis vinifera, French-American hybrids, Inter-American hybrids, and native American grapes. Among these (grapes), there are wines possessing distinct characteristics of the districts in which they are produced (both blended and varietal), and varietals (regardless of where produced). These all tend to fit, one way or another, into the hierarchy of "categories" mapped out above, but largely subsumed or broken down as "subcategories." Still, it can get a little weird upstairs when considering country wines.

For the most part, country wines are either red table, white table, rosè, or social wines, although I have tasted some excellent sparkling peach, blackcurrant and black cherry and some equally excellent dessert apricot, peach-banana, blackberry port, and blueberry port. I have made an excellent port by blending and fortifying blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, and cherry wines (which I called "Black Forest Port").

Here, then, is one way to look into the hierarchy of classes, categories, types, and styles in my head. You might want to devise your own system.

CLASSES: CATEGORIES: TYPES: STYLES: (Not all-inclusive)