Have you recently developed an interest in wine? You should know you’ve started a love affair that’s likely to last for the rest of your life.
However, getting to know wine may be slightly intimidating. With so many options, how do you know which ones to choose? Currently, there are over a thousand varieties of grapes being used to produce wine. Each of these affect the taste and quality of the wine differently.
It’s interesting to note that the grapes you buy fresh from supermarkets or local farmers’ markets are not the same grapes used to produce wine. Wine grapes have special characteristics like thicker skins, very sweet tastes, and tiny seeds.
To get you started on your wine journey, we’ll tell you about the different types of wine you should try this year. And if you already know your wines, read on—you may discover a new variety you haven’t tried before.
The Best Wines to Try This Year
Before we dive into the different types of wine, note that each winemaker’s product will have a unique taste. So, even though you can buy the same type of wine from two different winemakers, each one will taste differently. Keep in mind that if you’re trying to cut down on your sugar intake, you may also want to consider zero sugar wine.
Location, soil, and farming methods influence a wine’s taste and quality. That being said, each type still has common characteristics that help you identify the variety of grape used to make the wine.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
This is one of the most established wine varieties worldwide and has its origin in France. Many grapevine historians believe it originally came from Bordeaux, a 2,000-year-old port city.
Tasting this wine, you’ll notice it has a black currant, black cherry, and cedar taste. It’s called a full-bodied red wine because it contains complex flavors and has an alcohol content over 13.5%.
The reason it’s at the top of our list is because it’s also the most popular wine. You can enjoy this type of wine with grilled beef, smocked ribs, or roasted leg of lamb.
Other alternatives to this type of wine that you may want to consider include the Bordeaux blend, Merlot, Carmen Ere, or Cabernet Franc.
Zinfandel, also known as Primitivo, is a dark-skinned wine made from the zinfandel grapes. It’s widely grown in Italy and the grape varieties that make the wine are said to have reached the United States in the mid 19th century.
This type of wine is known for having different tastes that can range from nectarine that has over ripened, to sour cherry as well as raspberry. Others may taste like black berry or even sweet tobacco.
The Zinfandel wine can range between medium-bodied or full-bodied and is a red wine. It’s also the type of wine which you can enjoy with a huge course meal, including beef, chicken, pork, barbecue, and even cheese.
Alternatives to Zinfandel that you may want to consider include Tempranillo, Carignan, Grenache, and Rhone blend.
3. Pinot Noir
This is one of the oldest wines, the grapes having been grown in Burgundy as early as the 1st century AD. There are rumors that it’s even older than this.
Pinot noir is a lighter-bodied red wine that has a highly fruity taste, like cranberry or cherry. The defining feature of this type of wine is its high acidity levels with low tannings and a smooth finish.
A dry wine, pinot noir can be paired perfectly with chicken, cured meat, duck pork veal, as well as soft cheeses. A few great alternatives to pinot noir include Schiava and Gamay.
The origins of Chardonnay is Chablis, with evidence showing that it was grown in this region as early as the 12th century. Now it’s one of the most widely produced wines being grown all over the world.
If you haven’t already tried this one, now is the time. This is a white wine that tastes like yellow apple, yellow pear or even yellow citrus. You may also notice hints of banana or pineapple.
Chardonnay is often medium- to full-bodied. Chardonnay that has been aged in oak will have a spicy note to them, while the variety that hasn’t been aged in oak are lighter with an apple or citrus flavor.
Food you may want to combine with chardonnay include lobster, chicken, shrimp, and mushroom. Alternatives include Viognier and Semillon.
Riesling can trace its origins to multiple countries including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France along the Rhine River region.
Riesling has a citrus taste, and you may notice flavors such as lemon juice, kefir lemon, and white peach. This type of wine comes in varying levels of sweetness depending on the producer. Some may choose to keep a bit of the grapes’ sweetness, making it off-dry. The wine is also quite acidic and could be either sweet or very dry depending on your liking.
Some of the best foods to combine with Riesling are poultry meats such as chicken, duck, and turkey, as well as cheeses and fondue. Alternatives to Riesling you can try out are Chenin Blanc, Moscato, and Torrontes.
6. Pinot Gris
This wine originated in the Burgandy region of France, where it has been a popular choice of wine since the middle ages.
Another white wine that is quite common in Italy, Germany, as well as in France, Pinot Gris has a soft citrusy taste like orange zest or lime water. You may also notice hints of cheese rind or apple peels, as well as white floral notes.
This style of wine is-light bodied, made for easy drinking, and is therefore a great choice for people who are not accustomed to high alcohol levels. This is best paired with a salad, fish, as well as cheese. Some alternatives to check out include Melon, Albarino and Soave.
7. Sauvignon Blanc
The Sauvignon Blanc has been grown in the Bordeaux region of France since the early 1500s. It has a citrusy taste, and could also be described as having a grapefruit pith. Moreover, you may also notice a kiwi, honeydew melon, and passion fruit taste, as well as green pepper.
Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine that is light- to medium-bodied, and pairs well with meals such as chicken, fish, pork and veal, as well as goat cheese or nutty cheese.
And when you want to taste alternatives to Sauvignon Blanc, you may try Verdejo or Vermentino.
The wines mentioned above are only a handful of what’s available out there, but they’re some of the best and most-loved ones. With these wines, you’ll have a suitable drink to complement any dish you serve your family or guests.
If you’re new to wine, try the light- and medium-bodied types first, as the heavy-bodied wines may take some getting used to with their intricate flavors.