Fruit wines form a category of their own. They can be further broken down into fruit wines and sparkling fruit wines. In addition, there are aromatised wines, of which the best known are mulled wines with Christmas spices.
Just under half of all wines made from grapes are red wines. More than one third are white wines and the remaining 20 per cent are rosé wines, sparkling wines and fortified wines.
The colour depth of red wines may vary greatly. The shade of the colour also varies, giving some indication of how mature the wine is. Young wines are purple, whereas old wines turn brown.
A distinctive flavour characteristic of red wines is the tightening sensation created in the mouth by tannin.
Young red wines are fruity and often hard, but with age they soften and develop new, mature flavours.
The colour of white wines ranges from greenish to yellow brown, depending on the region, grape variety and age. Healthy wine is typically yellow green. Colour depth is mainly affected by age, sugar content and dry extract. Barrel maturation also produces additional colour.
White wines are divided into four categories based on their sweetness: dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet and sweet wines.
White wines can also be grouped using other characteristics, such as whether they are oaky or not. Some white wines may also contain a touch of carbonic acid.
Like white wines, rosé wines are divided into four categories according to their level of sweetness. Sweetness is determined by the sugar content and acidity of the wine – high acidity makes the wine taste fresher and dryer.
The nature of rosé wine is also affected by its degree of maturation, acidity and, at times, the presence of some tannin. An additional element found in some rosé wines is a hint of fizz or bubbles.
Rosé wines obtain their colour from a short contact with grape skins. The longer the skins of red grapes are allowed to sit in the juice, the stronger the colour. This also adds flavour to the wine.
Sparkling wines are classified according to their level of sweetness. Other characteristics used to categorise these wines are aroma, acidity, degree of maturation and colour, which ranges from pale yellow green to dark red.
The method of production has a major impact on how strong and sweet a sparkling wine is. The flavour of the wine is augmented by sur lie (French for 'on the lees') ageing, which is done as part of all premium methods. Also, the longer the wine is stored, the better the carbonic acid, which is typical of sparkling wines, is retained in the wine .