Frequently Asked Questions

Styles of Wine

The combination of soil type, climate, degree of slope and exposure to the sun.  The darker shade of wine (the deepest, blackest reds and most golden whites) usually come from warmer climates and are rich and ripe.  Lighter colors usually whites, come from cooler climates and are lighter and less lush.

Category: Styles of Wine

A fortified wine is a wine to which a distilled beverage (usually grape brandy) has been added.  Fortified wine is distinguished from spirits made from wine in that spirts are produced by distillation, while fortified wine is wine that has had a spirit added to it.  There are several styles of fortified wines that have been develpoed such as, port, sherry, maderia, marsala and vermouth.

Maderia Wine – a fortified wine made in the Maderia Islands.  Produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines that can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines usually consumed with dessert.

Marsala Wine – a strong wine named after the island’s port in Sicily, available both fortified and unforitified.  First produced in 1772 as an inexpensive substitute for sherry and port, by John Woodhouse, an English merchant.  The fortified version is blended with brandy to make two styles, a younger, slightly weaker Fine aged for at least four months, and the Superiore, aged for at least two years.  The unfortified wine is aged in wooden casks for five years or more.

Port – a fortified wine from the Douro Valley in the northern provinces of Portugal.  Fortified halfway through fermentation, which stops the process so not all the sugar is turned into alcohol.  Typically a port is a sweet red wine, but also comes dry, semi-dry and white.

Sherry – a fortified wine made from white grapes grown near the town of Jerez, Spain.  Most sherries are initially dry, with any sweetness being added later due to the fortification taking place after fermentation.  Sherry is produced in a variety of styles from dry, light versions such as finos to much darker and sweeter versions known as olorosos.

Vermouth – a fortified wine flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices using closley guarded recipes.  Some vermouth is sweetened.  Unsweetened, or dry vermouth tends to be bitter.  The name vermouth comes from a concoction made by Antonio Bnedetto Carpano which was inspired by a German wine flavoured with wormwood, a herb most famously used in distilling absinthe.

Category: Styles of Wine

Wine produced in accordance to Judaism’s religious law, specifically, the Jewish dietary laws regarding wine.  Kosher wine must have the hechsher (“seal of approval”) when it is produced, marketed and sold commercially to Orthodox Jews.

Category: Styles of Wine

It is a wine from grapes grown in accordance with the principles of organic farming, generally excluding the use of artificial chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.

Organic wines are not necessarily sulfite-free.  Many vintners favor their use in small quantities for stabilization of wine, while others frown on them.  In the U.S., wines certified “organic” under the National Organic Program cannot contain added sulfites.  The wines that have added sulfites, but are otherwise organic, are labeled “wine made from organic grapes.”

Category: Styles of Wine

A wine with significant levels of carbon dioxide in it making it fizzy.  The carbon dioxide may result from natural fermentation, either in a bottle, as with the methode champenoise, in a large tank designed to withstand the pressures involved (as in the Charmat process), or as a result of carbon dioxide injection.  In some parts of the world, the words “champagne” or “spumante” are used as a synonym for sparkling wine, although laws in Europe and other countries reserve the word Champagne for a specific type from the Champagne region of France.

Category: Styles of Wine

A sparkling wine produced by inducing the in-bottle secondary fermentation of the wine to effect carbonation.  It is produced exclusively within the Champagne region of France, from which it takes its name.  The primary grapes used in the production of Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier.

Category: Styles of Wine

Dessert wine that has been produced with grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine.  The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must to be pressed from the frozen grapes, resulting in a smaller amount of more concentrated very sweet wine.  With ice wines, the freezing happens before the fermentation, not afterwords.  Due to the labour-intense and risky production process resulting in relatively small amounts of wine, ice wines are generally quite expensive.

Category: Styles of Wine

A sweet wine typically served with dessert.  They are often appreciated alone, or with fruit or bakery sweets.  Due to the sweetness it is drunk in smaller quantities than table wine.  In the United States, the classification of dessert wine is the wines that are fortified whether they are sweet or dry.

Category: Styles of Wine

In European countries the wines are named after their geographic locations, non-European wines are named after different grape varieties.

Category: Styles of Wine

No, not all wines improve with time.  A vast majority of wines produced are ready to drink, and do not have much potential for aging.  Only a rare few will last longer than a decade.

Category: Styles of Wine

White wines are generally made with grapes that have yellow or green skins.  White wines can also be made from black-skinned grapes if the juice is separated from the grape skins early enough (before fermentation).  Red wines get their color from being fermented in contact with the skins of dark grapes.  Rose gets its pink color by a short contact time with the skins of dark-colored grapes before fermentation or by mixing finished red wine with finished white wine.

Category: Styles of Wine

The characteristics of a particular vintage are determined by the quaility of that year’s grape crop.  Vintages are more important when collecting more expensive wines, especially aged ones.

Category: Styles of Wine