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Understanding the


It is incredible that the fermented juice of a single fruit, the grape, can offer us so many different styles of liquid. Color is the first and the easiest way to differentiate one wine from another. But there are other factors like grape varieties, winemaking styles and regions that can also be used to classify wines. For now, we will categorize wines under two broad groups.


Wine gets its color from the grape skin and the time it spends in contact with the grape juice during fermentation.

Two glasses of red wine placed next to each other against a shimmering background
 Two wine glasses filled with white wine sitting on a wooden table, ready to be enjoyed

Red wine

A still wine made from red grapes (dark colored/black) that are fermented along with their skins during the winemaking process, giving them the rich, dark color.


The color of such wines can range from purple, typical of young red wines, through ruby red for mature wines, to reddish brown for aged red wines. Red wines have higher tannins and antioxidants than white wines and are generally considered to be amongst the most complex of wines, often featuring an array of different aromas and flavors.

White wine

A still wine made by fermenting grape juice without any skin contact during the winemaking process, giving them the light, clear color.


These wines can range from greenish-yellow, for young ones, to straw yellow, and gold for sweeter, more luscious wines. White wines are more enjoyable for someone looking for a refreshing taste and less complexity of flavors in their wine.


White wine can be made from both white and red grape varieties! This is because the juice from almost all grapes is actually clear. A classic example is Pinot Noir (a red grape variety), which is commonly used to make Champagne.

Three wine glasses filled with rosé wine sit elegantly on dinner table

Rosé wine

Sometimes referred to as pink or blush wine, a rosé (pronounced as ro-zay) is a still wine made from red or black grapes. Keeping the skin of the red grapes along with its juice for a short time, anywhere between a few hours to a few days, during the winemaking process gives this wine its pink color.


Different hues of pink are achieved by removing the grape skins from the fermentation process at various stages.


In the winemaking process, when the natural sugar is converted into alcohol through the interaction of yeasts, carbon dioxide and heat are created as by-products.

An enticing close up shot of a single drop of red wine creating ripples in the wine glass

Still wine

A type of table wine that is free from the presence of carbon dioxide, which is what makes them still - no fizz or bubbles. Still wines can be red, white or rosé and can range from dry to rich and sweet.


Alcohol level varies between 11% and 14%.

A glass of fortified red wine on a rustic wooden table, creating a cozy and inviting ambiance

Fortified wine

It is essentially a still wine where brandy or neutral spirit is added midway through the fermentation process. Hence the name ‘fortified’. This process kills the yeast and raises the alcohol level in the wine and also preserves the sugar in the unfinished wine making it sweeter than normal wines. Port, Sherry, Madeira, and Marsala are some popular fortified wines.


Alcohol level varies between 16% and 24%.

Two glasses of dessert wine, one red and one white, side by side on a wooden table, illuminated by gentle ambient light

Dessert wine

This is a still wine that has high sugar and alcohol content but unlike fortified wines, no alcohol is added to a dessert wine. There are various methods to achieve the sweetness levels in a dessert wine. For instance, a late-harvest wine is full of natural sugar because the grapes have been left on the vine well after the normal harvesting season. Some dessert wines are purposely subjected to the mold, also known as the ‘noble rot’. Though this sounds like it should be a bad thing, the resulting wine is both sweet and potent. Typically served with, or as a dessert, these wines are listed among the most highly esteemed and expensive wines in the world. Hungarian Tokaji, French Sauternes, and Icewine are some examples of dessert wine.


Alcohol level varies between 14% and 20%.

Pouring sparkling wine into elegant champagne flute glasses, creating a celebratory atmosphere

Sparkling wine

When significant levels of naturally occurring carbon dioxide are retained, resulting in the bubbles or fizz in the wine, what we get is a sparkling wine. Sparkling wine can be red, white, or rosé and can range from minerally to rich and sweet. Champagne is probably the best-known example of sparkling wine. Other popular varieties are Prosecco (from Italy), Cava (from Spain) and Sekt (from Germany).


Like still wines, alcohol level in sparkling wine varies between 11% and 14%.

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