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Types of Wine Chart: Red Wine & White Wine

By
Joshua Weatherwax
Table of Contents

There are hundreds of wine varietals on the market ranging from dry to sweet, fruity to earthy, and with a range of calories in wine. This can make it very difficult to choose the right wine for the right occasion.

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Whether you're trying to craft a food and wine pairing menu, want to become a wine negociant, or are just looking to learn about wine, there's a lot to consider.

Keep reading to get greater insight into a wide array of wines from our comprehensive red wine types chart and white wine types chart.

Red Wine Types Chart

Contrary to popular belief, red wine types don't have to be heavy and dry affairs. There are dessert reds, sweet reds, light reds, fortified reds, and more. Flavors can also range from fruity to earth and there’s great variance in the wine alcohol content and calories in red wine. The more important thing is to pay attention to the body and sweetness so you can pick the type that best fits the situation.

Here are the 10 most common red wine types by aroma, body, and sweetness:

Red Wines

Sweetness

Body

Aromas and Flavors

Cabernet Sauvignon

Semi-Sweet

Full-bodied

Oak, blueberries, raspberries, black currant

Pinot Noir

Semi-Sweet

Medium-bodied

Cherry, raspberry, strawberry, spices

Merlot

Semi-Sweet

Medium-bodied

Vanilla, chocolate, earth, ripe fruits

Zinfandel

Semi-Sweet

Medium to full-bodied

Fruit jam, berries, spices, earth, smoky finish

Chianti

Dry

Medium to full-bodied

Cherry, dried herbs, earth, smoke

Cabernet Franc

Dry

Medium-bodied

Roasted peppers, plum, earth

Burgundy

Dry

Full-bodied

Black cherry, blackberry, peaches

Shiraz/Syrah

Sweet

Medium to full-bodied

Pepper, spices, sweet red fruit

Port

Sweet

Full-bodied

Grape, blackberry, wood spice, pepper

Sangiovese

Dry

Light to medium-bodied

Tobacco, spices, cherry, fruits

White Wine Types Chart

White wine types are often the easiest for beginners and come in a wide range of flavors and sweetness. They are generally light or medium-bodied, so they tend to be less complex and easier for an untrained palate to explore and enjoy. However, white wines do tend to have higher calories in white wine, so you should make sure you stick to the standard wine pour if you’re worried.

Here are the 10 most common white wine types by aroma, body, and sweetness:

White Wines

Sweetness

Body

Aromas and Flavors

Riesling

Dry, Semi-sweet, or Sweet

Light-bodied

Apple, orange, limes, honey

Chardonnay

Dry

Medium to full-bodied

Apple, papaya, oak, vanilla

Sauvignon Blanc

Dry or Sweet

Light to medium-bodied

Grapefruit, peach, grass, herbs

Pinot Grigio

Dry

Light-bodied

Citrus fruits, salt, honey,

Chablis

Dry

Light-bodied

Citrus, flowers, minerals, salt

Viognier

Dry or Sweet

Medium-bodied

Peach, apricot, flowers, vanilla

Chenin Blanc

Dry

Light-bodied

Apple, pear, honey, spices

Moscato/Muscat

Sweet

Light-bodied

Orange, lemon, pear, flowers

Sparkling Wine

Dry

Medium-bodied

Apple, pear, minerals, vanilla

Ice Wine

Sweet

Medium to full-bodied

Pineapple, mango, papaya, herbs, honey

What Makes a Wine Dry?

If the charts above are at all confusing, it’s likely because the term dry doesn’t seem like it would be the opposite of sweet. Isn’t that sour? Well, in the wine world, dry identifies a particular phenomenon where the acidity, tannins in wine, and aroma all work together to make your mouth feel drier after a sip of wine. In general, higher acidity and an increased amount of tannins, like in deep red wines, will lead to a dry wine.

Dryness can be evaluated after the first sip as your taste buds can feel as though they didn’t just have a liquid on them. Many people love this feeling and often these wines can be some of the most enjoyable to drink, especially when paired with food. Though tannins play a role, wine doesn’t have to be red to be dry. In fact, some of the most popular white wines like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio are renowned for their dryness.

What Makes Wine Sweet?

Sweetness in wine is a much clearer concept than dryness and can often be discovered by smelling wine. If you get a sweet fruity aroma from a wine, the odds are that the wine will be sweet or semi-sweet. This is due to the low acidity and low amount of tannins imparted by the light-skinned grapes used during fermentation. Wines that have the flavor of figs, raisins, or jam are some of the most common sweet wines.

Often the addition of additional sugar in wine will also overpower any dryness that naturally occurs. This is why fortified red wines are often much sweeter than their more natural counterparts. Wines like vintage ports can be surprisingly sweet while still being such a deep red that you should still invest time in learning how to remove red wine stain.

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Straight From the Chart

Red wine and white wine come in a wide array of flavors, sweetness, body, and more. Use the charts above to make more informed decisions. Whether you're looking to increase your restaurant profit margin, need more wine varietals to upsell, or just want to try something new, there are plenty of options at your disposal.

Make sure to stay on top of your wine knowledge. One of the best ways to do that is to look at the most famous wine lists or most popular wine lists in the country. There are so many types of wine lists you can create, so looking at the competition can really make a difference! You should also learn the proper way to handle different wines. Preventing wine oxidation or dealing with bottle shock can help keep you from having a bad day.