White wines are made from the juices of white grapes. With the addition of yeast, the grape juice ferments, loses its sugar content and becomes alcoholic. The method of fermentation will determine the type of wine. White wines can be produced in a range of styles, flavours and forms, including dry, fruity and sparkling wines. In the same way, the colours vary depending on the type of white wine: dry whites are usually pale, almost transparent. Sweeter wines will be slightly more yellow. White wine is usually paired with white meats like chicken, fish and pork. Depending on the acidity and tannin content of the wine, it also makes a good pairing for seafood and pasta with a creamy base.
Red wine is made by fermenting the juice of black grapes. Yeast is added to absorb the sugar in the grape juice and convert it to alcohol. The process of fermentation depends on the type of flavour and structure the wine-maker wants to create. Red wines get their colour from the skin of the grape and can be anything between light red, deep red, purple and almost black. The skins also impart tannins that influence the wine’s flavour and texture. Red wine is best enjoyed with red meats, whether grilled, roasted or smoked, as well as creamy dishes and a variety of cheeses. Spicy dishes should be avoided since the strong flavours of the food clash with the acidity in the wine.
A dessert wine is much thicker and sweeter than regular wine. Whereas other wine might be enjoyed as an aperitif, dessert wine is usually taken at the end of a meal either on its own or with the dessert course. There are many methods for producing dessert and fortified wines. Botrytis (noble rot) is the process where grapes are allowed to rot on the vine, and fortification is when an alcoholic spirit like brandy is added to stop fermentation and retain sugar content. Dessert and fortified wines are usually yellow-gold to brown in colour and best served with sweet dishes. The peach, almond and honey flavours of these wines make them excellent partners for desserts prepared with fresh fruit and served with chocolate.