There are primarily six basic categories of wine, basically classified according to their colors and physical characters and content. These are red wines, white wines, rose or pink wines, sparkling wines, dessert wines and wines that are fortified.
Red wines are the most popular category or type. This type of wine is usually what comes to mind when wine is mentioned. The tint of the wine is either blue or red, hence the name. Made from black or dark colored grapes, the color of the wine comes from the skin of the grapes. During the whole fermentation process, the skin is kept intact with the juice to retain the color. Tannins from the skin of grapes, is what makes red wines red and is responsible for the dry and puckery sensation left in the mouth and back of the throat when consumed. Tannins also help preserve the wine, which is the reason why red wines can be aged longer than other wine types such as white wines. The most popular red wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir.
White wines are yellowish to clear in color. Pigmentation is almost nonexistent. This is due to the lack of tannins from the grape skin as it is not included in the fermentation process. The taste of white wines range from sweet and dry, some possess both notes. White wines that are more popular include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris and Riesling.
Rose or pink wines
Rose or pink wines have a pinkish tint, hence the name. These are also called blush wines. Rose wines are also from black grapes, like red wines, but the skins are removed hours after contact with the juice and not for the whole duration of fermentation. This allows only a slight transfer of pigmentation and minimal amount of tannins. Another process of making rose wines is to combine red wine with white wine. Most rose wines, such as White Zinfandel and White Merlot, are sweet in taste. The best and traditionally European pink wines, however, are bone dry.
Sparkling wines can be made from any variety of grape. What makes them sparkling are the addition of carbon dioxide bubbles. While the wine-making process itself produces carbon dioxide, this is usually released after the fermentation process. The trick to making sparkling wines is trapping the bubbles even after the bottling stage. Sparkling wines is most often mistakenly referred to as Champagne. Champagne is a mere variant of sparkling wine, so named from the French region the variety originates from. Wines may only be legally named Champagne when it is solely made from grapes grown in the said region, and are produced following the strictest of guidelines. Other popular sparkling wines are Cava, Moscato d'Asti and Prosecco.
Dessert wines are popularly consumed with dessert or as the dessert itself due to its high sugar content. The sweetness is achieved by harvesting the grapes at a much later stage, when the fruit is much sweeter, or drying the grapes so the sugar content is concentrated. Popular dessert wines include late harvest Rieslings, Madeira, Sauternes and ice wines.
Fortified wine are spirits like brandy. These spirits have a higher amount of sugar similar to dessert wines. Fortified wines were initially made so that wines could survive the lengthy voyages in the 17th century. Popular fortified wines include Port and Sherry.