Most types of wine fall into two broad categories – white and red. But there are over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes in the world, including classics such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Noir, or Merlot, as well as interesting varietals like Sangiovese or Mourvedre.
Whether you’re new to wine or a connoisseur with a large cellar, we hope you’ll enjoy this list of different wine types. We’ve included a quick summary of the most popular wines from around the world.
Popular White Wine Types
White wine ranges in color from straw yellow to yellow gold, with some varieties having a rich yellow-green color. While most white wine is made from yellow and green grapes, some are produced from darker colored grapes. This is done by pressing the juice from the grape but keeping the juice and skins separated.
The world’s rich selection of white wines includes aperitif wines, dessert wines, and sparkling wines. Here is a collection of the most popular names of white wines.
Produced from the grape with the same name, Chardonnay originated in Burgundy. Today, it is among the most popular types of wine – it is made everywhere around the world. Depending on where it is grown and how it is aged, it may take on a fruity, herbal, spicy, or vanilla flavor.
Different varieties of Chardonnay have a medium-low to medium-high acidity and may be either dry or sweet.
You can learn more about the expression of this wine type in California by reading our article about California Chardonnay.
You can find a list of great Chardonnay to buy here.
Pinot Grigio is a dry or sometimes fruity white wine. Its name references the pine cone shape of the cluster of grapes from which it’s made, which tend to have a coppery color.
It is grown around the world, but especially in Alsace (France), Victoria (Australia), Baden, Palatinate, and Rheinhessen (Germany), and Oregon and California in the US.
The grassy flavor of the Sauvignon Blanc distinguishes it from most other types of white wine. It is famously made by French winemakers in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. While Sauvignon Blanc tends to be sweeter than other white wines, it can also be crisp or dry.
Best served cold, Sauvignon Blanc has high acidity and a relatively low concentration of tannin. Its primary flavors often include gooseberry, grapefruit, passion fruit, and white peach. It’s one of the best-known and most-loved wines in the world.
Available in a variety of styles, Chenin Blanc is a versatile acidic wine with a rich heritage. Common to the Loire Valley but grown today around the world, it’s notable for its floral aromas, though some varieties can be quite neutral in terms of flavor.
Depending on which variety you taste, you can enjoy Chenin Blanc as a sparkling wine as well as a dessert treat. Chenin Blanc is popular with winegrowers in South Africa, where it is also called “Steen”.
A dry to sweet wine that’s heavily influenced by the soil, Riesling is aromatic and often fruity. It’s the perfect accompaniment to spicy food as well as to pork, duck, or shrimp. To preserve its aroma, winemakers are careful not to crush or bruise the skin of the grapes, which could leak tannin into the juice.
Riesling is closely associated with the Rhine region. However, though it may have once been the first German wine that came to mind, today it’s grown as far as New England and South Africa.
Muscat Blanc is known for its sweet floral aroma, which makes it a favorite wine in restaurants around the world. It’s a great pair to salads and fresh fruit and ages relatively fast. Muscat wines tend to have a low body and can be still or sparkling.
The Muscat grape includes over 200 varieties. Winemakers use these not only in the production of white wine but also in the production of rosé or black wine. Muscat traces its roots to Greece and may have been produced even in antiquity. It is also available as a fortified wine.
Popular Red Wine Types
Red wine can range in color from dark violet to brown, with some wines developing a beautiful brick red color. Red wines are made from dark grapes and exhibit a variety of flavors. Few beverages can make dinner as exciting as a glass of red wine. Discover now the most popular names of red wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in all major winemaking regions, from the Beqaa Valley in Lebanon to the Napa Valley in California. It’s the perfect wine for any strongly-flavored dish, and especially for all grilled meats.
Best served at room temperature, the authentic Cabernet Sauvignon has a full body and a dry taste that captures some of the best characteristics of red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon improves well with age, so if you happen to misplace a bottle in your cellar for a few years, the result may pleasantly surprise you.
Follow this link to discover some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon producers in California.
A dark and rich wine with a full body, Syrah often has a note of blueberry or black plum. A glass of Syrah brings out the flavor of spiced food and goes particularly well with exotic spices. The climate exerts a strong influence on Syrah grapes, with hotter climates giving it a fruitier flavor.
Originally a European wine, Syrah has found a second home in Australia, where it was introduced in the 19th century. Today, Syrah is Australia’s most popular red grape. It’s also known as Shiraz.
You can learn about Syrah here.
Light-bodied red wines don’t get more popular than Pinot Noir, a versatile wine which adds a special flavor to countless dinners around the world every evening. Pinot Noir tends to have low tannins than other red wines, making it less astringent.
This may surprise some, but the Pinot Noir variety of grapes is also being used to make Champagne. Pinot Noir is cultivated around the world, but turning it into wine is not always an easy process because the tightly-clustered grapes are susceptible to rotting. Every good glass of Pinot Noir is a celebration of the winemakers’ effort to capture the essence of this wonderful grape.
Discover some of the top Pinot Noir producers in New World style.
The rich and flavorful Grenache is a popular Spanish wine that reached the heights of perfection in the skillful hands of the master winemakers of the Southern Rhone Valley. It’s a dry wine with a medium to full body and a moderate concentration of tannin.
Some of the world’s best-loved Grenache has a red fruit flavor but is soft on the palate. If you enjoy roasted meats, a bottle of Grenache can add a special flavor to your next dinner.
You’ll find over 65% of the world’s Malbec vineyards in Argentina, but you don’t have to go that far to enjoy this dark and rich red wine with a notable fruity flavor. Malbec is a popular wine today and it is one you will find in plenty of restaurants.
Its acidity, together with its fruity notes, makes it a very easy wine to drink. Malbec is just divine with blue cheese, which brings out its fruity flavor.
Merlot is a smooth wine with a black cherry flavor that’s an excellent pairing for many different foods, from quattro formaggi pizza to roast turkey. It’s one of the most popular wines in America because it’s easy to find and comes in many varieties.
Merlot offers a great introduction into the world of red wines and is a safe wine type for most special events. It’s one of the most cultivated grapes in Bordeaux and worldwide.
Widely grown in Spain, the Balearic Islands and, in more recent decades, in California and Washington, Mourvedre is a strong red wine with a smoky flavor and a high concentration of tannin. You will often find it blended with Grenache and Syrah.
Mourvedre is the perfect wine for smoked meats and barbecues. Unlike other varieties of red wine, it doesn’t always benefit from being aged in oaken barrels, but that doesn’t make a bottle of well-aged Mourvedre any less exciting. Mourvedre is also known as Monastrell.
Tuscan wines don’t get better than Sangiovese, or “the blood of Jupiter,” a bone-dry wine type that grows predominantly in Italy. With its centuries-old tradition, Sangiovese leaves winemakers plenty of room for experimentation. When it’s young, this wine is noted for its fresh and fruity strawberry flavor. When it’s well-aged, it delights with an oaky flavor.
In more recent times, Sangiovese vineyards have gained a foothold in Argentina, Romania, and California.
Zinfandel begins its history in Croatia, but over the centuries it became a popular wine type in many other countries, including the USA. The authentic Zinfandel is a fruit-forward yet robust red.
In the US, White Zinfandel, which is actually a rosé, is grown in many vineyards, notably in California. Depending on the climate, Zinfandel can develop a raspberry or blackberry flavor, together with spicy notes.
Zinfandel reflects the characteristic taste and flavor imparted to the wine by the soil and climate, which is yet another reason to taste it.
Pour Another Glass
Your life will be richer if you always stay on the lookout for new kinds of wine. If you don’t believe it, just try any of the wines on this list, and you will taste the truth, one glass at a time.
With so many types of wines to choose from, it can be hard to make up your mind. But then what better place to lose time in than a wine shop?
Choose any of the wines on this list, and you can’t go wrong. Begin (or continue) your tour through the elegant and exciting world of red and white wine.