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Wine Types

By no means a full list of all the worlds wine types, the wines listed alphabetically below and the brief description of each should give you enough of an overview to know what the wine you are drinking is.

To jump to a wine type alphabetically click on the appropriate letter below:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I    J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S    T    U    V    W    X    Y    Z 

AMARONE - Sometimes known as Amarone della Valpolicalla, Amarone is an Italian rich red wine made from partially dried Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grape varieties.

The grapes are partially dried after harvesting, either in the sun or in specialist drying chambers, to concentrate the grape juices. The result is a rich, concentrated, full bodied raisiny wine with very little acid and high alcohol levels. 

ASTI - Formerly Asti Spumante, Asti is an Italian sparkling wine from the Piedmont region of Italy and made from the Muscat grape. Unlike champagne, Asti acquires it's sparkle through the Charmat method of secondary fermentation in a single fermentation tank. Typically, Asti is semi-sweet, low in alcohol and low in price.

AUSLESE - A German wine quality designation, meaning "select harvest", made from selected very ripe bunches or grapes, sometimes with noble rot. Typically sweet or semi-sweet.

BANDOL - Bandol is a French AOC region in Provence. Bandol wines are mostly red, with some rosé and white produced. The main grape variety is Mourvèdre which must account for a minimum of 50% of the blend (although most prducers use significantly more). Grenache and Cinsault usually complete the composition, although Syrah and Carignan are permitted to a maximum of 15% of the blend, or 10% individually.

Bandol red wines are typically dark in colour, rich in black fruit falvours, cinnamon, vanilla and leather. Bandol must spend at leat 18 months ageing in oak. 

The white Bandol wines are made from Clairette, Bourboulenc and Ugni Blanc. 

BARBARESCO - An Italian red wine produced in the Piedmont region, made from the Nebbiolo grape. Barbaresco was granted DOC status in 1966 and then DOCG staus in 1980. Barbaresco wines must be aged for a minimum of 2 years (at least 1 year of that in oak) prior to release. To be considered a riserva, the wines must age for at least 4 years.

Similar to Barolo (only 10 miles away), Barbaresco wines tend to be lighter coloured reds, but well structured, tannic wines. However, in contrast to Barolo, Barbaresco tend to soften earlier than Barolo, making them more approachable at a younger age. 

BARDOLINO - Bardolino DOC is an Italian red wine from the province of Verona, to the east of Lake Garda. The blend of grapes used are Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara with a permitted addition of up to 15% Barbera, Rossignol, Sangiovese and/or Garganega.  

BAROLO - Barolo is a famous Italian red DOCG wine produced in Piedmont in northern Italy. Nebbiolo grapes are used and the wines tend to be fairly light in colour, rich, tannic, quite alcoholic and quite acidic with considerable ageing potential. When at their best, Barolos are delicious, complex wines with exotic aromas of tar, roses, dried fruits, plum, strawberries, tobacco, some licorice, white truffle and herbs. 

BEAUJOLAIS - Beaujolias is a French AOC red wine made in just north of Lyon, at the southernmost end of the Burgundy region. Beaujolais is made from Gamay, a thin skinned grape low in tannins. Because of this, combined with specific winemaking techniques, Beaujolias is a light, fruity, refreshing red wine with little ageing potential.

Beaujolais Nouveau is the lightest, fruitiest style of red produced from this region and is released on the third Thursday in November, after an August/September harvest and a few days fermenting. 

BEERENAUSLESE (BA) - A German wine quality designation, meaning "select berry harvest", for wines made from individually selected overripe grapes often affected by noble rot, making rich, sweet desrt wines.

BONNEZEAUX - An appellation within the Anjou district of the Loire. Bonnezeaux is made exclusively from Chenin Blanc (known here as Pineau de la Loire) affected by noble rot. Grapes are harvested in multiple passes through the vineyards ensuring each grape is selected at exactly the right level of concentration. Bonnezeaux is very sweet, with crisp acidity and almost limitless ageing potential and ranks as some of the very finest sweet wine in France.

BORDEAUX - Bordeaux is a French wine region in South West France surrounding the Gironde river and some of its tributaries. Bordeaux is most famous for its red or sweet wines, but also makes white and rosé wines. 

Permitted red grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. White wines, including the sweet whites, are typically a blend of mainly Sémillon and a smaller proportion of Sauvignon Blanc but Muscadelle, Sauvignon Gris, Ugni Blanc, Columbard, Ondenc, Merlot Blanc and Mauzac are also permitted.

Some of the world's most famous and expensive reds come from the various appelations within Bordeaux; likewise, some of the best sweet wines from Sauternes within Bordeaux.

BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO - Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is a well known (and quite expensive) Italian red wine from vineyards surrounding the town Montalcino in Tuscany.

The only grape variety permitted is Sangiovese (unofficialy called Brunello here) and traditinally the wine undergoes extended maceration and then must undergo at least 2 years ageing in oak and a further 4 months in bottle before release. 

Brunello di Montalcino wines are generally smooth, lightly tannic with ripe, fruit driven flavours and good acidity, not unlike a Pinot Noir from Burgndy. The wines are capable of lengthy ageing, often 10 years or more.

BURGUNDY - Burgundy is a region in France north of Lyon, following the Soane, and one of the worlds most famous wine regions. Reds are made from Pinot Noir and can be exceptional (and some of the worlds most expensive such as Domaine Romanee Conti), the white wines made from Chardonnay can, likewise, be stunning in quality.

Good quality reds are supple, smooth, fruit driven with soft tannins, great depth and an elegant mouthfeel. The good whites are complex, refreshing, generally full bodied and quite rich, with good fruit and acidic balance and a buttery vanilla (from the oak contact during ageing) characteristic.

CLARET - Claret is the British term for red wine from the Bordeaux region of France. 

CAHORS - Cahors AOC is a French wine region in the South West France. Cahors wines are red, made from a minimum of 70% Malbec and supplimented by up to 30% Merlot or Tannat. 

The reds are generally quite tannic and robust, benefiting from some ageing, but they have come along way from the Middle age wine "The black wine of Lot (Cahors)", a dark, almost inpenetrable wine also known as the "liquor of fire".

CAVA - Cava DO is a Spanish sparkling wine made in eight permitted regions in Spain, although 95% comes from Penedès in Catalonia.

The most popular grapes used in Cava production are Macabau, Parellada and Xarel.lo but other grapes are permitted, and rosé Cava is made by adding small quantitites of red Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha or Monastrell to the white wine.

Like Champagne, Cava is made in varying levels of sweetness from the driest brut nature, brut, brut reserve, sec (seco), semisec (semiseco) to the sweetest dolsec (dulce).

CHABLIS - Chablis is the northernmost wine region of Burgundy in France.

The wines are made from chardonnay and the cooler climate, soil types (kimmeridgean composed of limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells) and winemaking practices (less influence of oak) leads to dry white wines, less fruity than warmer climate chardonnay, with flinty mineral (sometimes referred to as gunflint) notes.

CHAMPAGNE - The most well known sparkling wine in the world. The wine takes its name from the Champagne region in France, to the East of Paris where the grapes are grown. Champagne is generally a blended wine although there are some examples of single wines being used.

For a wine to be legally called Champagne, it must meet a specific and comprehensive set of criteria.

To put it simply, Champagne grapes must come from the defined vineyards in the region, must be made from permitted grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier the most common but others are permitted) and viticulture techniques. Yield size must be to a certain size and specific rules apply to the pressing of the grapes.

Production must be by the Méthode Champenois, secondary fermentation must occur in the bottle for a specific amount of time.

CHÂTEAUNEUF-DU-PAPE - A French AOC appelation around the village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Southern Rhone. Both red and white wines are produced from a total of 18 grapes, the main ones being Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre anc Cinsault. Both red and white grape varieties are permitted in both the red and white wine.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape red tends to be full bodied, tannic in its youth, with rounded earthy, gamy flavours, red fruits and hints of tar and leather. They are capable of long periods of ageing.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape white wines are mixed in style, from lean and minerally to fuller, rounder and more aromatic with flavours of almonds, star fruit, honeysuckle and fennel. Whites are generally intended to be drunk young. There is no rosé permitted in the region.

CHIANTI - Chianti DOCG is a red wine from Tuscany in Italy. There are 2 types of Chianti. Chianti, which can be good but is often low quality, and Chianti Classico. The difference is that Chianti Classico is wine made from vineyards within the Chianti Classico region within Chianti. Chianti Classico is generally better quality.

Chianti must contain a minimum of 75% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaioli and up to 20% of any other permitted grape variety (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah). Chianti must be at least 12% and aged for at least 12 months before release. 

Chainti Classico must contin a minimum of 80% Sangiovese and up to 20% of any other permitted grape variety (Canaioli, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah). Alcohol content must be 12.5% minimum and aged for at least 24 months before release.

CHINON - Chinon AOC is a a wine made from around the town of Chinon in the Loire Valley region of France. Most Chinon is red wine made from Cabernet Franc with up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon permitted. There are a small amount of rosé and white wines as well, typically made from Chenin Blanc.

CÔTE ROTIE - Côte Rotie AOC is red wine produced in the Northern Rhone and literally translates as "the roasted slope" which describes the hillside vineyards perfectly. The wines are red with Syrah the main grape, but with up to 20% Viognier (a white grape) permitted. Viognier is sometimes blended to add floral aromas to the wine.

Côte Rotie is subdivided into two zones defined by soil composition, Côte Brune (brown slope) of dark iron rich schist and Côte Blonde with pale granite and schist soils. 

Côte Rotie wines are some of the finest examples of Syrah, with full bodied complex wines including flavours of spice, violets and notes of meats.

CONDRIEU - Condrieu AOC, in the northern Rhône is regarded as the finest white wine in the entire Rhône region. Wines are generally dry but semi-sweet and sweet examples do exist, all made from Viognier. 

Condrieu wines are aromatic, with fresh fruits of peach, apricot and melon, rich in style with a mouthfeel not disimilar to Chardonnay, and great finesse. 

CÔTES DU RHÔNE - Côtes du Rhône AOC is a generic appelation encompassing the whole of the Rhône region but most is made in the Southern Rhône. The wines are mostly red, but there are whites and rosés produced.

The red are a minimum of 40% Grenache (except in the North where Syrah may be considered the principal grape), blended with Syrah and/or Mouvèdre and up to 30% of other permitted grapes.

The whites are made from a selection of grapes including Marsanne and Viognier, the rosé, like the red must be a minimum of 40% Grenache (escept in Northern Rhône where Syrah can be the principle grape) blended with Syrah and up to 30% of other permitted grapes.

CÔTES DU RHÔNE VILLAGES - This is an AOC appelation in the Sothern Rhône. If the wine comes from only one commune within Côted du Rhône Villages, they can add that commune name to the label. 

Grape varieties permitted for the red, white and rosé are similar to the Côtes du Rhône AOC above, but with more Grenache required (50% minimum) and a minimum of 20% Syrah or Mouvèdre and up to 20% of other permitted grapes.

Côtes du Rhône Villages is generally better quality, with better depth and more complexity, than the basic Côtes du Rhône.

CRÉMANT - Crémant is a French word originally given to a Champagne with a low pressure and soft creamy mousse, the word has been dropped by the famous sparkling region and taken up by many other appelations in France to describe a sparkling wine, made by the Methode Champenoise. The various Crémant's are Cremant D'Alsace, de Bordeaux, de Bourgogne, de Die, de Jura, de Limoux, de Loire and Crémant de Luxembourg.

EISWEIN (Ice Wine) - A German wine quality designation (althought the term Ice Wine is often used in other regions around the world) made from grapes naturally frozen on the vine. When pressed, the unfrozen grape juice is heavily concentrated as the water has frozen making very concetrated sweet wines.

FRASCATI - Frascati DOC is an Italian white wine made near the town of Frascati in Lazio. It must be made from a minimum of 70% Malvesia and/or Trebbiano,  a mximum of 30% Greco and/or Malvasia and 10% of other white grapes. Frascati is usually dry, but semi-sweet, sweet and fizzy spumante wines are also made.

GAVI - AKA Cortese di Gavi. An Italian white wine awarded DOC status in 1974 and upgraded to DOCG status in 1998. Gavi is produced in the restricted province of Alessandria, in Piedmont. Gavi is made exclusively from the Cortese grape, is quite fashinable and consequently quite expensive. In style it is soft textured, dry and as it ages it developes a honey rich flavour. 

GIGONDAS - Gigondas is a French AOC region in the Southern Rhône. Originally classified Côtes du Rhône Villages in 1966, Gigondas achieved its AOC classification in 1971. Gigondas grapes are entirely red and most wines made are red, although some rosé is produced.

Gigondas red wine must be made from a maximum 80% Grenache, a minimum of 15% Syrah and/or Mourvèdre and a maximum of 10% from other Côtes du Rhône authorized varietal, except Carignan. Gigondas reds are rounded, unctuous wines, with a touch of pepper, similar but not quite as integrated and fine as Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 

GRAVES - Graves is a subregion of Bordeaux situated on the left bank of the Garonne River, southest of the city of Bordeaux in France. Graves AOC covers most, but not all of the subregion. Graves is famous for red, dry white and sweet wines although most of the production is red wine.

Graves reds are made from primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller amounts of Cabernet franc and Merlot. The dry white wines are a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillion, as are the sweet wines. 

Within Graves are the famous sweet wine appelations of Sauternes AOC and Barac AOC.

HERMITAGE - A French AOC appelation in the northern Rhône wine region. Most famous for reds, although there are small amounts of white, Hermitage is seen as the spiritual home of Syrah. Reds are almost entirely Syrah, although appelation rules do allow up to 15% of Marsanne and/or Roussanne.

Hermitage red wines are full bodied, tannic, earthy wines with aromas of red berries, leather, coffe and cocoa that are capable of significant ageing potential.

MADEIRA - A fortified Portuguese wine taking its name from the Madeira Islands where it is produced. The wine originates from the 15th/15th Century when Madeira was a common port of call during long sea voyages. Barrels of wine were often fortified with a neutral grape spirit to prevent spoiling, but then the long durations at sea exposed the barrels to high temperatures. Unsold wines, when returned to the islands were found to be transformed and improved.

The modern process to make Madeira is similar (without the ships), using Malvasia (aka Malmesy or Malvazia), Bual, Verdehlo or Sercial depending on the sweetness desitred, Malvasia being the sweetest and Sercial the driest. 

The wine is produced as nornal, then undegoes the "Estufagem" Process to dulicate the effect of a long sea voyage.

The Estufagem process involves heating the wines via one of 3 methods:

The cheapest method being the Cuba de Colar method in stainless steel or concrete tanks witha heating element in them for a minimum of 90 days at up to 55°C.

The Amazém de Calor method involves the wine stored in wooden barrels being gently heated in a steam room like a sauna for 6 months to over ayear.

The Canteiro method is used for the highest quality Madeira's, storing the barrels in warm rooms allowing natural heating by the sun. In some cases, such as Vintage Madeira, this process can last from 20 years to over 100 years.

Madeira wines can be dry, semi sweet or sweet, have a distinctive oxidized flavour and are some of the longest lasting wines, some surviving 150 years and vintages dating back to 1780 are known to exist.

MÂCONNAIS - The Måconnais is a wine region in the South of Burgundy incorporating the basic Måcon appelation, the Måcon-Villages appelation, Pouilly-Fuissé, Saint-Véran and Viré-Clessé. 

Chardonnay is the main grape grown in Måconnais, white wine being the most common wine from this region, but Pinot noir and gamay are permitted to be grown and some red and rosé produced.

MARGAUX - A French AOC appelation within Bordeaux on the left bank of the Gironde river. The appelation is famous for its reds, predominantly made from Cabernet Sauvignon, although (like all Bordeaux reds), Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are also permitted.

Margaux wines are noteable for their perfumed fragrance and dominant blackcurrant fruit flavours. The most famous of all producers within the region is the First Growth Chåteau Margaux. 

MÉDOC - The Médoc AOC is an appelation in Bordeaux on the left bank of the Gironde, although the term Médoc is often used in a geographic sense to refer to the whole left bank region of Bordeaux. 

MONTRACHET - An AOC and Grand cru vineyard in the Côte de Beaune subregion of Burgundy. The vineyard sits between the communes of Chassagne-Montrachet and Puligny-Montrachet and produces Chardonnays widely regarded as some of the best white wines in the world.

4 additional Grand Cru vineyards surround Montrachet and take its name, Båtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Båtard-Montrachet and Croits-Båtard-Montrachet.

MUSCAT DE BEAUMES DE VENISE - A lightly fortified (vin doux naturel) sweet made from Muscat grapes grown in the AOC appelation in the Sothern Rhône. The fermentation of the wines are stopped early with the addition of 95% ABV grape spirit, killing the yeast. The remaining sugars give the wine sweetness, the grape spirit upping alcohol levels (to the required minimum of 15% ABV).

ORVIETO - An Italian DOC region located in Umbria and Lazio. It is most famous for its white wines made from a blend of mostly Trebbiano and Grechetto.

PAUILLAC - A wine growing commne within Haut Médoc in Bordeaux. Pauillac wines are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon often blended with one or all of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petic Verdot and Merlot.

Pauillac contains three of the five First Growths of Bordeaux; Latour, Lafite and Mouton Rothschild.

Pauillac reds are full bodied reds, the predominant flavour being blackcurrant with notes cigar box and pencil shaving. The wines are sometimes described as stark, referring to the powerful and sometimes austere nature of top class Pauillac wines, but with some ageing they can evolve into wines of significant finesse. 

POMEROL - A wine growing commune in Bordeaux in France. Whilst Pomerol has no official wine ranking or classification, there are some great wines made here. The two most famous are Chåteau Petrus and Chåteau Le Pin, both of which are two of the world's most expensive wines. 

The wines of Pomerol are red, the predominant grape being Merlot with smaller quantities of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon also used.

PORT - A fortified Portuguese wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in northern Portugal. Port is made by adding the neutral grape spirit to the wine to halt the fermentation process. This leaves residual sugar in the wine and increases the alcohol content.

Hundreds of grape varieties are permitted in Port, however only Tinta Barroca, Tinta Cão, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo) Touriga Francesa and Touriga Nacional are widey used.

Port is typically a red, sweet wine with considerable aging potential, but can be a semi-sweet or dry drink and white or pink in colour. Port types fall into 5 main categories:

  • Vintage Port - Vintage port is made entirely of grapes from a declared vintage and is made to age/mature in the bottle and can age for a significant number of years to reach its peak. Port vintages are only declared in the best years, entirely at the choice of the producer. 
  • Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) - Late bottled vintage port is from a single year, originally intended for bottling as vintage port, but due to lack of demand, left in the barrel for longer than originally intended. The ports are usually bottled 4-6 years after the vintage and allow the drinker access to vintage style port without the need to lay down the wine to mature. "Bottle Matured" on the label means the port has had at least 3 years maturing in the bottle before release.
  • Crusted - Crusted port is a blend of several vintage ports, allowing the port blender to make the most of varying characteristics of different vintages. Crusted port must spend a minimum of three years before release, although a large proprtion of crusted ports are held considerably longer before release. The date on a bottle of crusted port is the date of bottling, not the year the grapes were grown. Crusted port does mature in the bottle but is better appreciated at a younger age than vintage port.
  • Ruby - Ruby port is the most common and cheapest style of port. After fermentation it is put into concrete or stainless steel tanks to prevent oxidative ageing and preserve colour. Ruby port is usually blended to match the style of the brand selling it. It doesn't usually improve with age in the bottle and is meant to be drunk straight away.
  • Tawny - Tawny ports are made from red grapes and aged in wooden barrels to allow slow oxidative ageing. This changes the colour to a dark amber colour and imparts a "nutty' oxidized flavour. Tawny port is generally semi-sweet or sweet. Tawny port without an age designation is a blend of wines that must have spent at least two years in barrels ageing. Tawny port with an age designation such as 20yr old is an indication of the ages of the wines for the blend, but it is no guarantee of their age legally.
  • Colheita - A colheita is a Tawny port from a single vintage. Not to be confused with Vintage port which matures in the bottle, Colheitas have spent time in wooden barrels (sometimes considerable time, 20 years or more). 
  • White Port - White port is port made with white grapes and can be dry (Secco) or sweet (lagrima). White port is usually made like a tawny port, with an element of wood barrel ageing.

POUILLY FUMÉ - A French AOC appelation on the east bank of the Loire opposite Sancerre. Like Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé is made from Sauvingon Blanc and at its best can show the grapes crisp gooseberry fruits, finesse and delicacy.

PRIORAT (PRIORATO) - Priorat (the Cataln Spelling) or Priorato (the Spanish spelling) is a DOCa (Denominacion d'Origen Calificada) region in the north east of Spain. It is one of only two Spanish regions awarded DOCa status alongside Rioja DOCa.

The area is of volcanic origin. The topsoil is a half metre thick layer of decomposed reddish and black slate and mica. This reflects the sunlight and conserves heat. The soil characteristics force the roots of the vines to push deeply to reach water, minerals and nutrients, conferring special qualities to the wine and firmly anchoring the vines during the frequent storms.

The reds are traditionaly 100% Garnacha or a blend of Garnacha and Carignan, although some other grapes are permtted. 

Classification of Priorat wines is threefold. Crianze must be aged in in oak barrels for 6 months then 18 months in bottle, Reserva must be aged in oak barrels for 12 months then 24 months in bottle and Grand Reserva must be aged in oak barrels for 24 months then 36 months in bottle before release.

PROSECCO - An Italian dry or Extra Dry sparkling wine made from Glera grapes ( but may contain a protion of Pinot Grigio or Pinot bianco). Prosecco is usually produced b ythe Charmat method where the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, although pricier Prosecco VOCG is made in the traditional method, with the secondary fermentation occuring in bottle. 

Prosecco is often used as a cheap alternative to Champagne and is famously mixed with white peach juice to make a Bellini.

RIOJA - Rioja DOCa is a wine region in northern Spain. It is subdivided into three zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Rioja wines are normally a blend and can be red (tinto), white (blanco) or rosé (rosado).  

Rioja is most well known for its red wines. The prominent grape is Tempranillo, usually at least 60% of the blend, with smaller proportions of Garnacha, Graciano and Mazuelo making up the remainder, although there are Riojas of a single grape. A distincitve characteristic of Rioja Tinto is the use of oak ageing, imparting a smooth vanilla note to the wines, with some wineries ageing for a considerable number of years.

The whites of Rioja are mainly Viura (aka Macabeo) with proportions of Malvasia or Garnacha Blanca added. The rosé Riojas are generally usually made from Garnacha. Rioja Blancos are usually characterised by fruity, somtimes slightly oxidized aromatic wines.

Riojas are classified into four categories. The simplest, merely labelled Rioja spends less than a year in oak ageing. Rioja Crianza must be aged for at least two years, one of which must be in oak and one year in bottle. Rioja Reserva is aged for at least three years, 12 months of which must be in oak. The final, Rioja Gran Reserva must age at least two years in oak and a further three years in bottle.

RIVESALTES - Rivesaltes is a French AOC in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Rivesaltes wines are naturally sweet fortified wines made from a variety of grapes, red and white.

ROSÉ - A French term but also Rosado in spanish speaking countries and Rosato in Italy, it refers to wines with a pink colour from pale orange through to almost purple depending on grpes and winemaking techniques. 

Rosé is made in three ways:

Most common is the skin contact method where the black skinned grapes are pressed, the juice is left in contact with the skins for a short period (typically 1 - 3 days), then the must is then pressed and the skins removed before fermentation (as opposed to red wine making where the skin contact continues through fermentation.

Another method is the Saignée method, a by product of red wine making. When the winemaker wants to intensify the colour and tannin of a red wine, they may remove some of the pink juice from the must at an early stage. This concentrates the red wine remaining is intensified as the volume of the juice in the must is reduced.

The simplest and least common (forbidden by law in France) is to blend red wine with white wine to add colour. This method is however a bit more common in Champagne where it is permitted. 

SANCERRE - A French AOC wine region on the west bank of the Loire opposite Pouilly Fume. Sancerre is the benchmark region for Sauvignon Blanc with wines being aromatic, bone dry with notes of gooseberry and stoney minerals. Some red and rosé is made from Pinot Noir.

SAUMUR - Saumur is a wine appellation within the Loire Valley region of France. Whilst red (mainly Cabernet Franc) and whites (mainly Chenin Blanc) are produced here, the region is most well known for it's sparkling wines made predominantly with Chenin Blanc.  

SAUTERNES - Sauternes is a French sweet wine made in the Sauternes region of Graves, in Bordeaux. The wine are made from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes affected by Botrytis Cinerea (Noble rot) and have considerable aging potential.

Top Sauternes such as Château d'Yquem demand considerable prices. Sauternes are characterized by the balance of sweetness and zesty acidity. A classic food match for a Sauternes would be foie gras.

SHERRY - A Spanish fortified wine made from white grapes grown near the town of Jerez in southwestern Sapin. Sherry is made from Palomino, Pedro Ximénez (PX) or Moscatle grapes. After the initial fermentation the wines are sampled and for first classification according to potential. Following first classification, distilled wine is added to fortify the wine and increase the alcohol.

The sherry is then aged in 500 litre American oak casks, filled five sixths full to allow an empty space at the top for the flor ( a film of yeast developing naturally on the sherry, helping the ageing and giving sherry its distinctive character).

The sherry ageing process is called the Solera system. This is where a succession of barrels and periodically, a portion of the sherry is moved down gently (to avoid disturbing the flor) from one barrel to the next. At the end of the series, only a protion of the last barrel is bottled, meaning a sherry will contain wines of different ages. Sherry is aged on a Solera for a minimum of 3 years.

Sherry is made into many types, the main ones being:

Fino - the driest and palest, aged under flor to prevent contact with air.

Manzanilla - a particularly light Fino sherry made specifically in the region of Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda

Amontillado - a dry Fino that is aged under flor then exposed to air, oxydizing slightly and becoming darker and richer.

Oloroso - a sherry oxidatively aged for longer than Amontillado, producing an even darker and richer wine. 

Palo Cortado - sherry that is aged initially like an Amontillado, but develops a character closer to Oloroso as the flor dies

Jerez Dulce (sweet sherry) - made by fermenting dried grapes (generally PX or Moscatel).

Cream - a sweetened Oloroso made by blending sherries, such as Oloroso with sweetened PX.

ST. ÉMILLION - St. Émillion is a French AOC appelation within Bordeaux on the right bank of the Dordogne. The Wines from Saint-Émillion are typically blended from Merlot (around 60% of the blend), Cabernet Franc (around 30%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (around 10%). 

Saint Émillion wines are classified regularly every ten years or so and broken down into Premier Grand cru Classé A (the best vineyards), Premier Grand Cru Classé B and Grand Cru Classé (the lowliest). There are only two producers in the Premier Grand Cru Classé A currently, Château Ausone and Château Cheval Blanc and both command high prices.

SUPER TUSCAN - Super Tuscan is a term coined to refer to Tuscan red wines that do not necessarily adhere to traditional blending laws for the region but by using other grapes, often Cabernet Sauvignon, and specialist growing and winemaking techniques.

Super Tuscans were originally labled Vino da Tavola meaning "table wine'; however, they have developed into high quality wines not qualifying for DOC or DOCG status.

Noteble Super Tuscans are Sassicaia and Tignanello, but be prepared to pay hefty prices for them.

SOAVE - Soave is an Italian dry white wine from the Veneto region in Northeast Italy. Soave is made from a minimum of 70% Garganege with other permitted grapes. Within the Soave region is the superior region of Soave Classico DOC and the better still Soave Superior DOCG.

In Soave Classico DOC, up to 30% of the blend can also come from Trebbiano di Soave (aka Verdicchio or Ugni Blanc), up to 15% of the blend can be Trebbiano Toscano. and the harvest yield must be no more than fourteen tonnes/hectare and a minimum alcohol level of 10.5%.

In Soave Superior DOCG, up to the remaining 30% (after the 70% minimum Garganega) is permitted to be Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco, with up to 5% collectively from local grape varieties. Maximum harvest yield is ten tonnes/hectare with a minimum alcohol level of 11.5%.

TOKAJI - Also known as Tokay, Tokaji are wines from the Tokaj-Hegyalja region of Hungary and Slovakia. There are many wine types from Takaji but the region is most famous for its sweet wines, the Aszú and the Essencia. The permitted grapes in Tokaji are Furmint, Hárslevelü, Yellow Muscat, Zéta, Kabar and Kövérszölö.

Aszú is the sweet Topaz coloured wine made from botrytized grapes, individually picked and trampled to a paste (known as Aszú dough). Wine must is then added to the paste and left for 24-48 hours before the being racked into wooden casks or vats for the completion of the fermentation and the maturation (usually several years). The sweetness of Aszú is bassed on the number of puttonyos (barrel of Aszú dough) added to a Gönc cask of must, More puttonyos means sweeter.

Essencia is a super sweet wine, made from the juice that runs naturally off the Aszú berries from the vats in which they are collected during harvst. When allowed to ferment (typically taking 4 years) the resulting wine is super concentrated, with an intensity that is unequalled. These wines can last in the bottle for 200 years or more. The catch is that Essencia is very rare and very expensive.

TROCKENBEERENAUSLESE (TBA) - A category of German wines produced from selected botrytized grapes that have been left on the vine to shrivel. Massively sweet, amber in colour and viscous.

VALPOLICELLA - Valpolicella DOC is an Italian wine region in the province of Verona, east of Lake Garda. Wines are made from at least 80% Corvina, with some other grapes permitted to make up the remaining. Usually Valpolicella mediocre quality light bodied red wine, although there are some exceptions such as AMARONE.

VACQUEYRAS - Vacqueyras is a French AOC region in the Sothern Rhône. Vacqueyras was the second Côtes du Rhône Villages to be upgraded to AOC status (after Gigondas) in 1990. Almost all of the wine production from Vacqueyras is red wine although some white and rosé is made.

The red wine is primarily made from Grenache (50% minimum) with Syrah, Mourvèdre and cinsault making up the balance. The wine style is dark and rich with the classic warm pepper/spice of the Southern Rhône.

VIN JAUNE - French for 'yellow wine', Vin Jaune is a white wine made in the Jura region of France. It is made from late harvest Savignan grapes that are, after fermentation, aged for 6 years in wooden barrels without any topping up. Over time a yeast flor develops similar to fino sherry. The resultant oxidized wine is similar to fino sherry, but not fortified and is capable of condsiderable longevity.

VIN SANTO (Vinsanto) - An Italian dessert wine, made by drying the freshly harvested grapes on straw mats or racks in a warm well ventillated area of a house for a period of time, before crushing and fermentation. After fermentation the wines are aged in small oak barrels for at least 3 years. Grapes used are usually Trebbiano, Malvasia and sometimes Sangiovese to make a rosé style known as Occhio de Pernice (Eye of the Partridge).

A similar wine to Vin Santo is Vin de Paille or 'straw wine' from the Jura region of France using similar winemaking techniques. Vin de Paille is also made in Hermitage in the Rhône and in Alsace. 

VIHNO VERDI - A Portuguese wine from the Mihno region in the north of the country, Vihno Verdi literally translates as "green wine" but in fact means "young wine". Vihno Verdi can be made from a number of permitted grapes as a white, red or rosé wine and is intended to be drunk within a year of bottling. 

VOUVRAY - Vouvray is a French AOC region in the Loire producing white wines of varying sweetness. Vouvray wines are almost exclusivley Chenin Blanc, although rarely one might find a wine made from Arbois (an obscure grape variety also permitted in Vouvray).

Vouvray wines are characteristically quite acidic with varying levels of sweetness from the driest Sec, to the off dry Demi Sec, the sweet Moelleux (often a Botrytized style) to the sweetest Doux.