Wine can be categorized into six main styles with hundreds of varietals within each.

Red WineRed Wine

Red wine is a style of wine produced using red or black-skinned grapes. When the grapes are crushed, the juice is left in contact and fermented with the skins allowing the pigment and tannins to transfer to the wine. The color of red wines can vary from purple or ruby (typical for younger wines) to brick red or brown (typical for older wines). The major types of red wine grapes include Gamay, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, and Syrah/Shiraz.

White WineWhite Wine

Since the juice of almost all grapes is clear, white wine can be made from either light-skinned or dark-skinned grapes. A key difference in the way white wine is produced is the skins are removed before the pigment begins to transfer to the juice. Whether using light-skinned or dark-skinned grapes, the skins must be separated before fermentation begins. The most common types of white wine grapes are Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.

Rosé WineRosé Wine

The term “rosé” is French for “pink.” Thus, rosé wine is a pink-colored wine. It is usually produced from red-skinned grapes similar to the way red wine is produced. However, the grape skins are left in contact with the juice for a much shorter time, resulting in only a light tint from the pigment. Once the skins are removed, the rosé is fermented the same way as white wine.

Sparkling WineSparkling Wine

Sparkling wine contains dissolved carbon dioxide, which bubbles and creates a froth or foam when poured. Sparkling wines are produced all over the world. The most famous is Champagne (with a capital “C”), which, by law, is produced only in the Champagne region of France. Hence, the term “sparkling wine” is applied to all other bubbly wines. Though, to the annoyance of the French, wine producers in the United States can legally call their wine champagne (with a lower case “c”), such as “California champagne.” Other types of sparkling wines include Cava from Spain, Sekt from Germany, and Prosecco from Italy.

Fortified WineFortified Wine

Fortified wines have extra alcohol (usually brandy) added to stop the fermentation process and increase the alcohol content. During fermentation, sugar is converted to alcohol by yeast. If the process is stopped before the sugar-to-alcohol conversion is complete the wine will contain some residual sugar making it sweet. Not all fortified wines are made sweet, though most of them are. Some common types of fortified wine are Port, Madeira, Marsala, and Sherry.

Dessert WineDessert Wine

Dessert wines are sweet wines traditionally served with dessert or as an after-dinner drink. Some dessert wines are sweet because they have not been fermented completely, allowing some residual sugar to remain in the wine. Others may be made from grapes containing a naturally higher sugar content with enough to spare for sweetness or sugar may be added. Another method is such as with the fortified wines by adding alcohol as previously mentioned. Many classify fortified wine as dessert wine. However, dessert wine and fortified wine are categorized here as two separate styles because, while fortified wines generally are sweet, not all dessert wines are fortified.