Lots of people avoid trying new wines because they’re not sure what to expect. Fruity, smooth, bold, tannin-forward? It can feel like another language altogether.
Finding a great bottle of wine doesn’t require an advanced degree, though. Similar wines can be grouped together according to their flavour profiles: the general way they taste. Once you understand the overall category, you can choose a great vintage within the flavour profile that most appeals to you.
Check out these four popular flavour profiles and see which one appeals to your palate:
Light-bodied and Fruity
Simply put, a light-bodied wine is one that feels lighter and thinner in your mouth when you drink it. You could think about a light-bodied wine as the skim milk of the dairy world, but instead of less fat, your light-bodied wine actually has less alcohol in it — under 12.5 percent. A light, fruity wine will have a bright, acidic taste, and you’ll notice flavours of berries or cherries as you sip. Pinot Noir is the gold standard in this flavour profile: Easy to drink, it pairs well with cheese and other rich, creamy snacks.
Medium-bodied and Fruity
As you might expect, a medium-bodied wine feels a bit heavier in your mouth. Its viscosity is greater because it has a higher alcohol content — 12.5 to 13.5 percent. These wines are often deeper in colour and have a less acidic, more balanced taste. The fruitiness usually tastes more like blackberries, and they also feature other flavours like herbs or earthy notes. This popular flavour profile includes Merlots and Cabernet Sauvignons, which pair well with red meat or pork.
Aromatic and Flavourful
As the word suggests, an aromatic wine smells great: possibly floral or herbal, but definitely of fruit. Aromatic wines are made in such a way that the aroma of the grapes themselves is preserved (rather than the smell of an oak container, for example). Grapes are complex, though, so you may notice fruity scents like pear, pineapple or citrus. The flavour is also fruity and typically acidic: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay are great examples.
Light and Crisp
A light, crisp wine is one best served chilled — typically a white wine that is refreshing and easy to drink. They’re a bit acidic, and they’re not too sweet or syrupy. Riesling and Pinot Gris are great examples — they are “young” wines that are meant to be consumed without long periods of aging, so they have a simple, clean flavour that’s perfect for sitting and sipping with friends. These wines get their flavour from fruit tones like melon and apple.
Once you choose a great bottle of wine to sample, don’t forget about pouring into the right glass! The right glass can actually enhance the flavour of your wine, so you get maximum pleasure from that great vintage. If that all sounds complicated, don’t worry: The most important thing about wine is that you enjoy it, and there’s no one right way to do that. As long as you like the flavour, you’re doing it right.
When you’re ready to try one of these excellent flavour profiles, be sure to go local. Ontario offers an incredible variety of local wineries to try. Whether you head to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Prince Edward or Essex counties for a full tour or just stop by your local shop for a great Ontario vintage, supporting your local grape growers keeps your regional economy strong — and it brings you some of the greatest wines anywhere in the world!