Wines can be divided into six categories: white, red, rosé, sparkling, dessert, and fortified.
There are sub-divisions, but this is an effort to make wine simpler, not more complicated. And, as you will see, it is complicated, and the color claimed seldom is the color it really is.
White wines are not white; milk is white. Typically white wines are shades of straw, yellow, or gold. Sometimes almost clear. Most white wines are made with white grapes, which aren’t white but shades of green or grey. White wines also can be made from red grapes, which often are not red and are called black grapes in the trade.
Red wines come from what the industry calls black grapes. Some are almost black, but more are shades of blue or red. They make red wines, which usually are described as ruby, purple, garnet, or tawny. The color comes from grape skin contact with the juice.
Rosé wines fall between white and red, sometimes from brief contact with the skins of black grapes, other times by blending red wine with white wine. They often are identified as pink, rose, blush, copper, salmon.
Sparkling wines are made from every type of grape, so distinction occurs in the making process. Fermentation produces carbon dioxide. In still wines, CO2 escapes; in sparkling wines, it is held in the wine.
Dessert wines have high sugar content. They can be made by harvesting grapes very late—after a frost in ice wines, for instance—or drying grapes on straw mats to turn them into raisins, as in amarone. Dessert wines do not have added spirits.
Fortified wines have brandy or other spirits added during fermentation, which stops fermentation and leaves the wine sweet, and usually with higher alcohol than grape fermentation alone can achieve. Port, sherry, and madeira were developed to survive long sea voyages. Late-harvest riesling and sauternes are other fortified wines, often served as dessert wines. Angelica, the most popular Catholic communion wine, is a fortified wine.
• Vilarnau Brut Reserva Cava NV: Excellent example of Spanish sparkling; dramatic label. $9-15 Link to my review
• Toad Hollow Vineyards Eye of the Toad Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir 2017: Destroys all notions rosé wines are sweet; great acidity, minerality, excellent with food. $12-14 Link to my review
• Zeni Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009: Delicious, velvety mouthfeel. $31-40 Link to my review
Last round: Forget this “wine Wednesday” stuff. Just call every day “Winesday.”
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