Wine Types and Terms

Wine Types - Dry Wines to Rice Wine

DRY WINES:  A wine that is not sweet or sweetened. (In other words all or most of the natural sugar content has been converted to alcohol.) Serve with or after a meal. People who have a tendency to develop low blood sugar after eating sweets should stick to dry wines.

FORTIFIED WINES:  Wines that have had their natural alcohol content increased by the addition of a brandy. Serve with dessert or after dinner. Should be served in small, narrow glasses.

HONEY WINE (MEAD):  An ancient type of wine that was made from fermented honey flavored with herbs. Serve with meals. The use of mea may predate that of the grape wines.

LIGHT WINES:  A wine that has a low alcoholic content. Serve with meals. These wines have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity. A wine containing only 8% alcohol is now being made in California.

MADEIRA:  One of the wines made on the island of Madeira which is located 500 miles southeast of the coast of Portugal. (The wines range from light and dry to heavy and rich.) Depending upon the type of wine, it may be served at various parts of the meal. Madeira wines are the longest-lived (they keep for many years without deterioration) of any of the wines. Purposely pre-oxidized (madeirized).

MAY WINE:  A light, white Rhine wine that is flavored with the herb woodruff. Serve chilled in a punch bowl with pieces of fresh fruit floating on top. Good for serving at garden parties or other outdoor types of receptions.

MOSELLE WINES:  Light wines (the alcohol content is usually about 10% or less) made in the valley of the Moselle River in Germany, which lies to the west of the Rhine. Serve with lunch or dinner. The most renowned Moselle wine is Berkasteler Doktor, because it is reputed to have cured an ailing archbishop. Primarily the Riesling grape.

MULLED WINE:  Heated, sweetened, spiced wine served in a cup. Serve during the winter holidays. Drinking a cup of mulled wine is a quick way to warm up after coming in from the cold.

MUSCATEL:  A sweet fortified wine made from Muscat grapes. Serve with dessert. Should be served in small, narrow glasses.

PERRY (PEAR WINE):  Light wine made from pear juice. Serve with meals. Among the least expensive wines.

PINOT:  Wine made from Pinot grapes. Starting material for making champagne. Serve with meals. California Pinot wines rival those of France.

PORT:  The type of fortified wine that originated in the town of Oporto in Portugal. Serve with dessert or after dinner. Port wines are now made in countries other than Portugal. Hence, the Epicurean consumer should check the label carefully. Tawny port is aged longer than other port wines.

PULQUE:  Fermented juice of the agava plant that grows in Mexico and in southwestern U.S. Used to make tequila, or used shortly after its preparation because it does not keep well. A common drink in Mexico.

RED WINES:  Wines produced from dark-colored grapes that are fermented together with their skins (which contain most of the color pigments). Serve at meals featuring beef or lamb dishes. Usually, red wines have a higher iron content than lighter colored wines. Hence, they are the best for building up the blood of anemic persons.

RESINATED (GREEK) WINES:  Greek wines that contain a resin which imparts a pine-like flavor. Best when served with mild-flavored main dishes made from fish, pork, or poultry. Unresinated wines of hight quality are also made in Greece.

RICE WINE (SAKE):  A Japanese wine made from fermented white rice. Served with meals at Japanese restaurants. May be served hot. Although some people consider sake to be a beer (because it is made from grain), it has an alcoholic content like that of wines.

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