At Tipple and Dram, we keep a wide array of red, white, rosé and champagne. Do visit our wine bar in Singapore or better still, if you wish do a wine tasting to understand the different kinds of wines on offer.
Most wine is made with grapes, but they’re not like the ones you find in the grocery store. Wine grapes are smaller, sweeter, have thick skins, and contain seeds.
Today, the most planted wine grape in the world is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made with the fermented juice of grapes. Technically, wine can be made with any fruit (i.e. apples, cranberries, plums, etc) but if it just says “wine” on the label then it’s made with grapes.
As diverse as wine is, most wines can be categorized into 9 different styles. Once you taste an example from each of these 9 styles, you’ll have a good understanding of the range of all the wines in the world.
If you already love sparkling wine, give yourself a pat on the back for your exquisite taste. This wine first came about in France and is synonymous with the region of Champagne. Sparkling wines are the most technically challenging and time intensive wines made in the world.
Champagne is often too price restrictive, so instead, keep your eyes peeled for Brut-level sparklers (i.e. not sweet) like Cava, Prosecco, Crémant.
Light-Bodied White Wine
These light easy-drinking dry white wines are some of the most-sold wines in the world (even if red wines get more attention). Light whites are perfect to drink with most foods. Some of these wines are perfect for savoury lovers (like Sauvignon Blanc and Grüner) with green herbal flavours of gooseberry and bell pepper.
Wines that fit into this category include Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio) and Sauvignon Blanc but they also include many lesser known wines like Grüner Veltliner, Albariño and Soave. It is highly recommend looking for a wine from a cool climate region (imagine the places with a rainy month of June). Cool climates produce some of the best examples of this light, zesty style.
Full-Bodied White Wine
Full-bodied white wines are perfect for red wine lovers because of their rich smooth taste with subtle creaminess. What makes them different than light white wines usually involve special winemaking techniques including the use of oak-aging, (just like aged whiskeys, wine becomes smoother with barrel aging too).
The classic choice for this wine is Chardonnay. Beside Chardonnay, another great option in this style is Viognier.
Aromatic (sweet) White Wine
Aromatic grapes are some of the oldest wine varieties in the world. In fact, Cleopatra is noted for her love of Muscat of Alexandria from Greece – a lovely rich aromatic white wine. These wines have explosive, almost perfumed, aromas that spring out of the glass into your nose. They can be either dry or sweet, but most will taste a touch sweet due to all those perfume-y aromas.
There are many great aromatic wines to try, and most are shockingly affordable. A few examples of these include Moscato d’Asti, Gewürztraminer, Torrontés and Riesling.
Rosé is a true winemaker’s wine because it’s made by “dying” a wine for only a short time with the skins of red wine grapes. You can find rosé wines of all styles (sweet or dry) made from many different grapes from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel (known commonly as White Zinfandel)
Instead of the sweet version, try a drier style Rosé to taste its subtle elegant flavours. Some of the most classic versions of dry rosé come from Southern France in Provence and the Pays d’Oc region. The varieties used to make these wines include Grenache, Syrah, Carignan and Mourvèdre -which are all red wine varieties! Since rosé is made everywhere, perhaps stick to one made with one or several of the aforementioned varieties to experience a classic rosé.
Light-Bodied Red Wine
Light-bodied red wines are typically pale in colour (you can see through them in a glass) and have very light tannin. Tannin tastes astringent in wine and dries your mouth out in the same way that putting a wet tea bag on your tongue would. For this reason, light red wines are some of the most coveted wines in the world.
The classic light red wine that most people know is Pinot Noir but, besides that, Gamay Noir is another great wine to try in this category. Gamay is most known by the name of a region where it grows called Beaujolais.
Medium-Bodied Red Wine
Medium red wines are “food wines.” They offer up tons of flavour with a balance of zesty acidity which makes them match with a wide variety of foods (from zesty salads to rich and cheesy lasagne). These are the perfect mid-week wines for red wine lovers.
There are many varieties that span the mid-weight red wine category so, to name a few familiar ones, check out Grenache, Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel, Montepulciano, Cabernet Franc and Barbera.
Full-Bodied Red Wine
Full-bodied red wines are the deepest darkest and most tannic of all the red wines. Tannin might sound weird and bitter but the tannin in wine binds to proteins in our saliva and it has a palate-cleansing effect. This is why a bold red wine pairs so wonderfully with a juicy, fatty steak like ribeye. Full-bodied red wines are also quite pleasing and stand on their own as a cocktail wine.
You’ve no doubt experienced one of these wines if you’re a wine lover, they include Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and even Pinotage. These are perfect examples of how bold a wine can be.
In the mid to late 1800’s, sweet wines were more popular than dry wines. In fact, several of the most exalted wines in the world, from Sauternes in Bordeaux to Essencia from Hungary, are practically as thick as maple syrup. Dessert wines today now range from dry to sweet and are some of the boldest, most intensely flavoured (and aromatic) wines in the world.
There are many different types of dessert wines to explore however, if you can start with a Port or a Sauternais-styled wine (a late harvest white wine), you’ll have a great preview of what dessert wines can offer.
Common Types of Wine
Types of Wine Grapes
Wine is made with grapes, but not typical table grapes you’ll find at the grocery. Wine grapes have thick skins, are small, sweet, and contain seeds. Some of the main varietals include:
Taste: Black Cherry, Black Currant, Baking Spices, and Cedar (from oak)
Style: Full-Bodied Red Wine
Description: Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red grape first heavily planted in the Bordeaux region. Today, it’s the most popular wine variety in the world!
Wines are full-bodied with bold tannins and a long persistent finish driven mostly by the higher levels of alcohol and tannin that often accompany these wines.
Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats, French, American, firm cheeses like aged cheddar and hard cheeses like Pecorino.
Taste: Blueberry, plum, tobacco, cured meat, black pepper, violet
Style: Full-Bodied Red Wine
Description: Syrah (aka Shiraz) is a full-bodied red wine that’s heavily planted in the Rhône Valley in France and Australia. The wines have intense fruit flavours and medium-weight tannins. Syrah is commonly blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to create the red Rhône blend. The wine often has a meaty (beef broth, jerky) quality.
Food Pairing: lamb, beef, smoked meats; Mediterranean, French, and American firm cheeses like white cheddar, and hard cheeses.
Taste: A broad, exotic array of fruits from stone (overripe nectarine), to red (raspberry, sour cherry), to blue (plum, blueberry), to black (blackberry, boysenberry), Asian 5 Spice Powder, Sweet Tobacco
Style: Medium-bodied to full-bodied Red Wine
Description: Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) is a medium-bodied red wine that originated in Croatia. Wines are fruit-forward and spicy with a medium length finish. Zinfandel is a red grape that may be better known in its pink variation, White Zinfandel.
Food Pairing: chicken, pork, cured meat, lamb, beef, barbecue, Italian, American, Chinese, Thai, Indian, full-flavored like cheddar and firm cheeses such as Manchego
Taste: Very red fruited (cherry, cranberry) and red-floral (rose), often with appealing vegetal notes of beet, rhubarb, or mushroom
Style: Lighter-bodied Red Wine
Description: Pinot Noir is a dry, light-bodied red that was first widely planted in France. The wines typically have higher acidity and soft a soft, smooth, low-tannin finish.
Food Pairing: chicken, pork, veal, duck, cured meat, French, German, cream sauces, soft cheeses, nutty medium-firm cheeses.
Taste: Yellow citrus (Meyer lemon), yellow fruits (like yellow pear and apple), tropical fruits (banana, pineapple), and often a touch of butterscotch, vanilla or toasted caramel notes from oak
Style: Medium- to Full-Bodied White Wine.
Description: Chardonnay is a dry full-bodied white wine that was planted in large quantities for the first time in France. When oak-aged, Chardonnay will have spicy, bourbon-y notes. Unoaked wines are lighter and zesty with apple and citrus flavours. Chardonnay is the white grape of Burgundy.
Food Pairing: lobster, crab, shrimp, chicken, pork, mushroom, French, cream sauces, soft cheeses such as triple cream brie, medium-firm cheeses like Gruyère
Taste: Aggressively-citrus-driven (grapefruit pith), with some exotic fruits (honeydew melon, passion fruit, kiwi) and always an herbaceous quality (grass, mint, green pepper)
Style: Light- to Medium-Bodied White Wine
Description: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white grape first widely planted in France. Wines are tart, typically with herbal, “green” fruit flavours.
Food Pairing: fish, chicken, pork, veal, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, herb-crusted goat cheese, nutty cheeses
Taste: Delicate citrus (lime water, orange zest) and fruits (apple skin, pear sauce), white floral notes, and cheese rind (from lees usage)
Style: Light-Bodied White Wine
Description: Pinot Gris is a dry light-bodied white grape that is planted heavily in Italy, but also in France and Germany. Wines are light to middle-weight and easy drinking, often with some bitter flavour on the palate (bitter almond, quinine)
Food Pairing: Salad, delicate poached fish, light and mild cheeses
Taste: Citrus (kefir lime, lemon juice) and stone-fruit (white peach, nectarine) always feature prominently, although there are also usually floral and sweet herbal elements as well.
Style: Floral and fruit-driven aromatic white that comes in variable sweetness. Some producers choose not to ferment all the grape sugar and therefore make the wine in an “off-dry” style.
Description: Always very high in acid, when made as a table wine Rieslings can be harmoniously sweet (sweet and sour) or dry (very acidic). The wine is polarizing because some people find dry styles too acidic and sweet styles too cloying, but sweetness is always a wine making decision and not inherent to the grape.
Food Pairing: chicken, pork, duck, turkey, cured meat, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Moroccan, German, washed-rind cheeses and fondue