The basics of wine’s five styles

The wine world features five styles of wine: white, red, rosé, sparkling and fortified. While color and taste are obvious differences, how they are made is the most significant one.

Many of the same grapes are used in different styles. An example is pinot noir, which is used to make red and sparkling wines. A syrah, usually a red wine, can be made into a rosé.

White-wine grapes are harvested, destemmed and crushed, then immediately pressed to extract the juice. Yeasts are added and fermentation begins.

After fermentation is complete, the white wine is aged in oak barrels, stainless-steel tanks or both before bottling.

Some white-wine grapes, such as pinot gris, actually are pink instead of the usual green. The color does not get picked up because the grapes are pressed right after the crush, and the skins that create the color come in contact with the juice for only a very short time.

Red-wine grapes also are destemmed and crushed. Yeast is added to this combination of skins, seeds, pulp and juice and it is then fermented. This mixture is called must. After fermentation, the must is pressed.

The red color is produced because the skins have been in contact with the juice during fermentation. The extended time the skins and seeds are in contact with the juice also cause red wine to be more tannic than white.

The red wine is then put into oak barrels and aged. Because of the tannins, the wine usually can be aged many years after bottling.

Rosé wine is made by using a little of both the red and white methods. The grapes are crushed and fermentation is started.

The skins are left in the juice for a short period of time (two or three days) to get the pink color, then the juice is pressed and fermentation is completed. The wine usually is bottled right away.

Sparkling wine can be made a few different ways.

The traditional way for French Champagne is méthode traditionnelle, a process that takes at least two to five years.
The transfer method is less expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive. In the injection method, carbon dioxide is injected into the wine, like with carbonated soda.

Fortified wines are those in which brandy and sometimes sugar are added back into the wine. The two famous fortified wines are sherry and port.

Sherry differs from other fortified wines because of how it is treated after fermentation — it is fortified with brandy.
Port wine is fortified with brandy halfway through fermentation, which stops the process so not all the sugars turn into alcohol, leaving a sweet wine.

Source: Ventura County Star

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