Styles of Wine

Styles of Wine

While there are many different styles of wine, in general all wines fall into one of three categories.

  • Table Wine
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Fortified Wine

These classifications are determined by the Alcohol By Volume of a wine.

Wine Alcohol By Volume (A.B.V.) Notes
Table Wine 8% – 15%
Sparkling Wine 8% – 12% Must be carbonated
Fortified Wine 17% – 22% Usually through added neutral grape alcohol

Alcohol listed on a bottle is a general average, sometimes used for taxation, but can vary by up to 1.5% from what’s printed.  Occasionally, this information is also used to determine different levels of taxation, for example, wine over 15% alcohol is taxed differently due to no longer being considered a table wine.

The reasoning for ‘Table Wine’s’ specific alcohol content range has to do with yeast.  As most yeast eat the sugars from the grape juice, they produce alcohol, when the alcohol gets around 14% this kills most yeast.  Some wine makers have found ways around this, using yeast strains from labs that can survive to much higher alcohol levels.

Fortified Wine is wine that has had neutral spirits [typically neutral grape brandy] added to stop fermentation, keeping most of the sugar in tact.

There are many other circumstances that can effect the final level of alcohol, but these are the primary conditions.