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winemaking ABC
winery guide


       When visiting a winery, you will have the opportunity to taste varying styles of wine. Sometimes the tasting room is the only place where you can taste some of the small production, specialized wines (such as dessert wines).

It will be easier to appreciate these wines if you possess a basic knowledge of the main wine styles available in California.        Professionals use the following categories to classify wine styles:

       · Still dry wines : These wines include white and red dry wines without any carbonation (or if you prefer without "bubbles"). Still dry wines are the largest category of wines on the market, and include all the varietal wines such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc.

       · Still sweet wines : Sweet wines can be some of the best, most complex wines in the world. Californian wineries usually offer at least one type of dessert wine, sometimes only available in the tasting room.

       · Sparkling wines : These wines always carry a certain magical allure, whether Champagne from France, or any other sparkling wine. We tend to associate them with parties, special events, and glamour! Some really good "bubbly" wines have been produced in the past twenty years in California, and are definitely worth discovering.

       · Fortified wines: The most famous example of this style is Port wine. The halting of fermentation by adding alcohol produces fortified wines. This process creates sweet, fruit-loaded wines that can age for decades.

       When tasting wines from each of these styles, do not hesitate to use the same tasting techniques for each wine category. Just remenber to adapt your personal evaluation to the particular wine style. For example, it is normal for a dessert wine to taste sweet, but not for a dry still wine!