TYPES OF WINE
Learn more about Australian wine’s vast varietal range with Wine Selectors From the rich, plummy flavours of full-bodied Shiraz to the refined citrusy elegance of Semillon, the plush seductiveness of Pinot Noir or the zippy, refreshing acidity of Pinot Grigio, Australian wine consists of a vast range of varieties, types and styles – each with their own subtleties to explore.
Generally, wine falls under 5 basic types: red wine, white wine, Rosé wine, Sparkling wine, and Fortified (or Dessert wine). There is a staggering diversity of style within each type, however, determined by such factors the component grape of the wine, its regionality, and the winemaker’s art. It is this diversity and creativity that informs the world’s enduring love affair with wine, regardless of individual preference.
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Browse the links below to learn more about your favourite wine type, and discover why Australia is considered one of the great wine countries of the world.
EXPLORE WINE TYPES
Full-bodied red wines
Medium-bodied red wines
Light-bodied red wines
Light-bodied white wines
Full-bodied white wines
Sparkling & Rosé wine styles
Fortified & Dessert wine styles
The Noble Grapes
RED WINE VARIETIES
Red wines are among Australia’s most favourite types of wine, from full-bodied examples of Shiraz – the country’s most popular type of red wine – to the lighter, more elegant flavours of Pinot Noir. New wave red wine varieties like Tempranillo, Sagrantino and Sangiovese are also on the rise, as winemakers embrace their drought-resistant qualities in the face of a changing climate – and wine lovers discover their enchanting flavours.
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FULL-BODIED RED WINES
MEDIUM-BODIED RED WINES
LIGHT-BODIED RED WINES
Learn more about Australia’s historic legacy of classic red blends, including Cabernet-based blends and Shiraz-based blends, in this breakdown of red blend styles and regions.
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WHITE WINE VARIETIES
While it still seems out of fashion to many, Chardonnay remains one of Australia’s most popular white grapes, as does Semillon. The success of Sauvignon Blanc (thanks to the Kiwis) means that many Australians are now drinking aromatic whites of a similar style, be they blends or straight varietals. Riesling still has a cult following but is not considered mainstream, while Pinot Gris, Viognier, and new wave varieties like Gewürztraminer are on the rise.
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LIGHT-BODIED WHITE WINES
Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
FULL-BODIED WHITE WINES
Learn more about Australia’s historic legacy of classic white blends, including Margaret River Semillon Sauvignon Blanc and Dry White blends, in this breakdown of white blend styles and regions.
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Rosé just goes from strength to strength, and every clever winemaker can now be found experimenting with different red varieties such as Grenache, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir. Its reputation has soared, thanks to its suitability for the Australian climate, and the fact it makes a great alternative to a chilled white or a lighter bodied red. Like most white wines, Rosés are best served chilled and enjoyed soon after release.
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TYPES OF SPARKLING WINE
Australian Sparkling can very happily hold its head up high with a reputation to match the best of Champagne. Thanks to the championing of regions like Tasmania and Tumbarumba, we’re starting to see examples that express purity of fruit and clever winemaking decisions. Although it goes through the same winemaking process and uses the three mainstay varieties as Champagne, namely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Sparkling can no longer be labelled as Champagne as it does not hail from that famed French region.
Sparkling white wine
Sparkling red wine
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TYPES OF FORITIFIED WINE AND DESSERT WINE
There is a rich tradition of fortified winemaking in Australia. Indeed, at one time at the beginning of the 20th century they were the only wine styles being made here. Today the respected varieties include Tokay, Muscat, Sherry and Tawny. Fortified wines are produced like most table wines, but a measure of alcohol is added during the fermentation process (afterwards in the case of Sherry). The most popular style of dessert wine is Botrytis, where a botrytis cinerea fungal infection (noble rot) is present in the grape – in its making, dehydrated grapes turn the acids into sugars, producing a wonderful sweet style of wine.
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WHAT ARE THE NOBLE GRAPES?
As you can see, Australia is blessed with a myriad of regional climates and soils that allow winemakers to grow a vast range of varietals, many of which are considered ‘noble grapes’. But what are the noble grapes? There are numerous categorisations of what the ‘noble grapes’ are depending on the provenance described. For instance, there are five noble grapes of Bordeaux, France, that go into the making of that region’s internationally renowned red blends; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. There are also the four noble grapes of Burgundy, namely Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligoté, as well as the noble grapes of Alsace, on the border of Germany and France: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Gewürztraminer.
Lastly, there are the six noble grapes, or International Varieties, which are held to be those grapes that have the broadest appeal and are most widely planted around the world. In this definition, the red noble grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot; and the white noble grapes are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.