The world has hundreds of wines to choose from. Some of the top vineyards are Ridge Vineyards, Russian River Valley, and Rutherford. The vineyards produce thirteen different types of wines, choosing one that will compliment your meal can be difficult.

From my experience as a bartender and server to your home, I offer you a definition of each type of wine, the types of foods that they can be served with, and what wines are in high demand this season.

Do I serve red wine with meat? Do I serve white wine with fish? What do I serve with duck? What is the difference between sweet wines and dry wines? These are probably questions that are coming to mind when you’re trying to choose a bottle for your guests.

The best thing to do is to have both a sweet and dry wine for your guest. Each person has a different palette (taste) for wine. Some will prefer a sweet wine with what you are serving and some will prefer a dry wine.

With the knowledge that there are 13 different types of wines, I am going to do my best to demystify the difference between white, reds, and blush. I do want to start off by explaining some of the words that Wine lovers use in their descriptions of wines.

Tannic

When someone uses the word Tannic, they are talking about the taste of a wine. The presence of Tannin gives wine an astringent or clean flavor. Tannin is the chemicals that come from oak. A tannic flavor usually comes from a red wine being aged in oak.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wines

The Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep red color to purple color wine. Most Cabernet Sauvignons are rich in flavor and tastes. You will want to purchase a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine from a vineyard located in warm climate because this allows the grapes to ripen fully.

When you’re testing a Cabernet Sauvignon Wine, there are some aromas that are characteristic to this type of wine. Old World Cabernet Sauvignon wines, those made in Italy and France, have the scents of violets, blackcurrant, cedar and spices.

New world wines can carry the same scent as older counterparts but most have a dominate smell of earth, pepper, oak, raspberries, blueberries, or chocolate. The new world wines are made in Australia, Argentina, California, and New Zealand.

Wine from Australia will have a strong smell of eucalyptus, especially wines made in Coonawarra. Cherries, herbs, and green peppers have been known to lend their scent to wine in cool climate vineyards.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine is a perfect paring with a hearty meal of beef or stew. If you have a meat dish that is peppery then a peppery scented wine will go well.

Petit Sirah

Petit Sirah is a red wine that is produced to blend with other types of wine. The Petit Sirah became popular in the 1970’s for its color and full tannic taste. The Petit Sirah is made in Australia, France, and California.

If you are having a dish with beef, lamb or a spicy sauce then a Petit Sirah would be a could choice of wine.

Merlot

Merlot wine is a red wine that is good for blending with other red wines like the Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot based wines have a medium body with aromas of berry, plum and currant.

Merlot is primarily produced in France and Italy but it has become a favorite in California because of its flexibility of blending with other red wines. Merlot wine is actually produced around the world in countries like Romania, Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Croatia, and Hungry.

Merlot wine can be a medium red to dark ruby color. Its rich fruit flavor goes well with dishes of beef, chicken and pasta. A Merlot wine is also a great wine to serve after dinner because it goes well with chocolate.

Other red wines include the Pinor Noir, which is a dark burgundy wine. Pinor Noir wine goes well with a meal light beef, fowl, or pasta with red sauce. The Syrah or Shiraz wine has a heavy red color. The aroma can very from pepper to fruit. Syrah wines compliment spicy Indian or Mexican foods. Syrah wines are also known to go well with hearty beef dishes.

A newcomer to red wines is the Red Zenfandel. This wine is very popular in the United States for its body, color and flavor. The Red Zenfandel has a spicy peppery flavor and goes well with burgers, pizza, and red sauce pasta.

Chardonnay

Known as the Grandfather of White Wine, Chardonnay wines make up most of the white wine market. Chardonnay wines are made in the cooler climate of France, United States, Australia and New Zealand. Though, Chardonnay wines were first produced in Chablis, France.

Many Chardonnay wines are used for making Champagne and sparkling wines.

The Chardonnay is a pale to straw yellow white wine. The flavor can vary from semi sweet to sour. White wines are best served with meals that consist of low fat poultry, seafood, red meat and cheeses.

Chenin Blanc

The Chenin Blanc is used for sparkling, dry and sweet wines. Chenin Blanc wines are usually pale to medium yellow color. A meal of chicken, seafood or fish would go great with the dry, semi-sweet, and acidic taste of a Chenin Blanc wine.

Gewarztraminer

This is actually a wine made out of a spice grape. It is a sweet white wine with a fruity ad spicy flavor. Asian food, ham, and pork meals would be a good paring with this type of wine.

Riesling

Reislings can also be know as Rhine or Johannisberg wines. The Reisling is a dry white wine that has a pale yellow straw color to almost a sparkling white color. When tasting a Riesling expect to experience a dry tartness to the wine. Reisling wines are great for pork and oriental dishes.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc wines originated from France but are now produced around the world. A Sauvignon Blanc wine is a white wine that has the blend of fruits and grapes. The wine color could be light to medium yellow in color with a tinge of green. This is because it is produced from a green grape.

Most Sauvignon Blanc wines have a crisp dry flavor but some can be sweet. In the U.S., The Sauvignon Blanc can also be know as the Fume Blanc and is very popular with picnics. Sauvignon Blanc wines can be a great addition to a meal of fish, shellfish, chicken and pasta.

Viognier

A recent addition to California vineyards, it is a very difficult grape to grow and therefore grown in only a few vineyards. The grape yields a medium bodied white wine, noted for it’s spice, floral and citrus flavors.

White Zinfandel – A newcomer to the wine industry, it is very popular with new wine drinkers because of it’s sweetness and ease of taste. Although labeled as a white wine, color is pale-rose and tends to have citrus and lights flavors. The wine is delicious with light sauces and pasta, fish, pork and other light meals.