A Beginner's Guide to Different Types of Wine

A Beginner's Guide to Different Types of Wine

We here at The Corkscrew pride ourselves on the education aspect of wine, and today we'd like to discuss four common varietals that most people have heard of but may not have a vast knowledge of.

Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are delicious and refreshing white wines, while Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are rich and velvety red wines. Below is a brief description of each varietal.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The grape most likely got its name from the French words "sauvage" (wild) and "blanc" (white). It's planted in many of the world's wine regions and produces a crisp, dry wine. It's also a component in the famous dessert wine, Sauternes.

Sauvignon Blanc tends to be lower in alcohol (ranging from 11% - 14% ABV) and is a lovely pairing with crisp salads, soft cheeses, or raw oysters and other shellfish.


Chardonnay is another green-skinned grape variety that's used in the production of both still white wines and sparkling white wines. The variety originated in the Burgundy region of eastern France but is now grown all over the world.

Chardonnay takes on a lot of the characteristics of the terroir, meaning the place it's grown and the climate/soil differentials. Cooler climates such as France or Northern California produce lighter-bodied wines with more acidity and in flavors of apple and pear. Warmer locations such as Southern California, Australia or New Zealand cause the wine to become citrus and tropical fruit-focused.

Some Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels, which provides notes of vanilla and toasty oak. Other Chardonnays are aged in stainless steel, providing more acidity.

Chardonnay pairs well with a wide variety of foods such as poultry, egg dishes, fish in cream sauces, or vegetable au gratin.


Merlot is a dark blue colored wine grape that's used as both a blending grape and single varietal wine. The name is thought to be a diminutive of "merle", the French name for the blackbird, most likely a reference to the color of the grape. It's softness and “fleshiness”, combined with its earlier ripening, makes Merlot a popular grape for blending with higher tannic grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.

Merlot is one of the classic components of Bordeaux wines. It's produced all over the world and creates more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh red fruity flavors and sometimes a leafy, vegetal quality.

A traditional food pairing with Merlot is duck.


Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world's most widely recognized grape varietals. The grape is the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France. The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be a full-bodied wine with higher tannins (that's what causes a drying feeling in your mouth) and noticeable acidity, which contribute to the wine's aging potential.

Cooler climates tend to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green pepper, mint and cedar notes which will become more pronounced as the wine ages. Warmer or more moderate climates produce wines with black cherry, black olive or "jammy" flavors, along with a characteristic quality of menthol or eucalyptus.

Don't let these unique qualities scare you! Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most versatile wines to pair with a grilled steak, juicy burger, traditional macaroni and cheese or hearty stews.



Visit our Springfield wine store located at 2625 Chatham Road in Springfield, Illinois. You can give us a call at 217-698-1112 for more information or to place an order. We also accept orders online.

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