The Wine Cellar: ‘Wine 101’: Taste of the 12 wines

If you’re like many Americans, you’ve had a glass of wine at some point in your life. In fact, wine consumption per capita for the United States is just more than 2.5 gallons per year. (I’m positive I consume more than that each year, although I’ve never really calculated it.)

Like many Americans, the only thing you might know about wine is that it comes from grapes. If so, this should serve as an introductory course. We’ll call it “Wine 101.”

Wine is commonly divided into 12 different styles. Four of these are whites, four are reds, two are rose wines and two are sparkling. If you’re just starting out, this should help you narrow down the styles that best fit your tastes or help you determine the type of wine to serve with certain dishes.

1. Fresh, unoaked whites—These wines are light, crisp and refreshing. They are food friendly, and go well with fish and seafood. Pinot Grigio falls into this category.

2. Earthy whites—As the name states, these wines are earthy in flavor. They go well with earthy foods such as green, leafy vegetables. Macon is a typical wine in this category.

3. Aromatic whites—These wines are full of flavor. They are also very food friendly. The richer wines in this category should be paired with richer foods, and the sweeter wines should be paired with sweet and spicy foods. An example in this category would be Riesling, one of my personal favorites.

4. Rich, oaky whites—Again, as the name states, these wines are rich and have oaky aromas and flavors. These wines go well with rich dishes, particularly ones with creamy sauces. Chardonnay would be in this category.

5. Mild-mannered reds—These red wines are fairly smooth and gentle. Wines in this category go great with a steak or pork roast. The most common kind is Bordeaux.

6. Soft, fruity reds—Wines in this category are fruity in both aroma and flavor. They go well with salmon or ham. Beaujolais wines fall into this category as well as some pinot noirs.

7. Fresh, spicy reds—These wines are fairly intense and often spicy. They go great with a pizza with almost anything for toppings. Dolcetto would be in this category.

8. Powerful reds—Once again, as the name states, these wines are powerful and very intense. They are great when paired with ribs or even lasagna. Many cabernets and merlots fall into this category.

9. Blush wines—Wines in this category are pink, and they range in sweetness, but are usually fruity. These are great picnic wines as they go well with burgers and barbecue. White Zinfandel is the most popular in this category.

10. Dry rosé wines—These wines range in dryness. They go well with salads and pork chops. The most common in this category would be Rosado.

11. Fruit-driven bubblies—The wines in this category are fruity and bubbly. They are often paired with Asian dishes. A prime example is Prosecco.

12. Complex, sparkling wines—These wines have earthy and rich flavors. They go great with caviar, oysters and mussels. Of course, the most common is champagne.

Nicole Lindsay is an administrative assistant at Rockford College and a resident of Loves Park.

From the March 15-21, 2006, issue

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