Aromatic white wines have a highly scented, aromatic or floral quality whose wonderful bouquet will greet you first. Their exuberant, aromatic quality is enhanced by subtle fruit flavors giving them individual and well-defined characters. They can possess lovely perfume fragrances of orange blossom and rose petals with a hint of nutmeg and cinnamon as well as flavors of citrus fruits, apricots, lychees and mango.
Aromatic wines are less fruit driven than those of the Crisp and Rich styles. While some are dry, others are medium-dry with a delicate sweetness, which is offset by crisp acidity. Gewürztraminer is the most extreme, if not the most typical, example of this style.
Crisp white wines are fruity, fresh, zesty, mouth-watering and refreshing. What marks them out is their upfront acidity: the most dominant characteristic of this style. They come from cool climate regions and consequently have long growing seasons that favor the development and retention of the grapes’ natural acidity. While these wines can be very aromatic and fruity, it is their crisp freshness that stands out the most.
They are bone dry, not aged in oak and can exhibit wonderful flavors and aromas of apple, asparagus, cut-grass, kiwi, lemon, gooseberry, grapefruit, peach, pear and pineapple. Sauvignon Blanc is the most typical of this style, which explains its enormous popularity worldwide.
The most dominant characteristic of Rich style whites is the weight and texture of the wines, which are full bodied and concentrated. They can benefit from oak and there is generally some contact either during fermentation and / or afterwards, through aging in oak casks. This oak contact can be significant, as it gives additional flavor dimensions to the wine, as well as adding complexity.
Expect these wines to have a creamy mouth feel with luscious flavors of butter and honey combined with melon, pear and tropical fruits such as nectarines and pineapple. Add to this vanilla, toast and nutty flavors contributed by the oak and you have rich, full bodied wines of real character, and often with great complexity.
Fruity red wines display delicious soft and juicy primary fruit flavors. The body is generally light with good acidity and low tannin levels. They have prominent red fruit flavors of cherries, raspberries, strawberries and plums, but can also exhibit banana, pepper, spice and even a bubble gum aroma.
These are easy drinking wines and are usually intended to be drunk young, while they are fresh and juicy. They are very pleasant and easy to approach, even for those who generally find red wine too strong, as they have little or no mouth drying tannins. At their best they are wonderful wines, vibrant and exciting with succulent juicy fruit flavors.
Smooth red wines are silky with a velvet-like texture. They can be medium or full bodied and hold the center ground between the light and juicy Fruity style, and the rich and intense Powerful style. They generally have well integrated tannins and their acidity can cover the full range from low to high.
When it comes to flavor these wines excel, as they are capable of displaying a vast range of profiles encompassing all the red and black fruits, as well as figs, mushrooms, truffles, herbs, spice, chocolate and fruitcake. With age they can develop great complexity and elegance and acquire additional fragrances of cedar wood, coffee, leather, licorice, black pepper and tobacco. Many of the finest red wines in the world are made in this style.
Powerful red wines are robust, full bodied and concentrated. These are the biggest wines in the world, with characters to match. In the glass they are deeply colored, almost black, can be broody and intense, and generally have high alcohol levels. The common theme connecting them is the ripeness of their fruit, which is deep and luscious. When young they are mouth filling with high tannin levels, but as they age they develop a complex range of aromas and flavors.
While dark fruits predominate (such as blackberry) flavors of vanilla, dark chocolate, licorice and toffee are often exhibited. They can also be smoky, peppery and spicy with earthy aromas. They need oak to soften their tannic structure and balance their flavors. Built for age, they can evolve for years. However, the ripeness of their fruit and modern wine making techniques mean that many are now ready to be drunk young.