Here is a quick reference guide for common varietals on the 'wine spectrum' in order of sweetness trending down into full body. While it does not, in any, encompass ALL varietals available, it is a good gauge by which to determine which wine is right for you and your given situation. Enjoy:
Desert Wines: Traditionally very sweet and often smooth, best enjoyed with - you guessed it - desert.
Riesling: The sweetest of traditional desert wines, found in an elongated neck bottle, light amber in color, it pairs well with most cakes and pastries.
Moscato: A sweet traditional desert wine, found in a regular bottle, light amber in color, it pairs well with most fruit-based deserts.
White Wines:This selection of traditional varietals are offered as a point of perspective of semi-sweet to dry white wines.
Chardonnay: A very sweet tradition white varietal, was once considered a desert wine (originally) but as its pairing palette changed it became a table wine. It pairs well with herbed chicken and sea food. It is also a perfect summer evening sipping wine and is served chilled.
Voignoles: In the Chardonnay family this wine is a sweet wine of desert quality as well, yet it offers a tangy finish that allows it to pair very well with hearty oily pasta and meat dishes.
Pinot Grigio: A fruity white varietal that draws a lot of power from sweet fruits like apples and pears. Its a perfect balance between semi-sweet and dry whites. It pairs well with color vegetable dishes and is a staple in party hosting when white wines are offered.
Sauvignon Blanc: A tangy white wine that offers an almost herbal feel. While it has a hard feel, its finish is smooth and refreshing. It pairs well with most cream-based sauces and is the PERFECT cheese wine.
Seyval Blanc: A robust, dry white wine, that is more of a complimentary wine and rarely served alone. It goes well with cream-based sauces as well as heavy stews and soups. Best if served chilled.
Blush: A blush is considered the absolute perfect balance of Red and White, though they tend to the sweet side. It should be noted that the 'new wino' is best to start here with a blush and develop their taste to either side, or both!
Rose (pronounced Roh-zay): A flowery and beautiful bouquet of flavor that reminds one of spring. A wonderful party wine (also because its often affordable) it pairs well with, of all things, chocolate.
White Zinfandel: Queen of the blushes, the pH-7 of wine. This light and sweet, but intense, flavored wine pairs well with, literally, everything. When in doubt, serve chilled White Zin and you can't go wrong at all.
Red Wines:Considered more robust and full-bodied than whites, they each have their place and are, personally, my favorite (though I love all wine). You won't find much traditional 'sweetness' in a normal red varietal, it has been exchanged for 'smooth'.
Rioja: Originally a hispanic wine this smooth red offers a light oaky taste that pairs well with any red meat.
Shiraz: The 'sweetest' of the reds, this smooth red offers a fruity feel something akin to blueberries and black berries. It pairs well with red meats and heavy sea-food dishes.
Malbec: Slightly more bitter than the Shiraz, this oaky and smoky red offers a pungent feel with a powerful refreshing finish. It is the perfect sipping and social red wine that pairs well with any heavy sauce/gravy dish that is spiced with herbs.
Cabernet Sauvignon: The chef of the wines, this red is used most in cooking and, as such, can also be a staple sipping wine. Its flavor spectrum knows no bounds, but it is paired best with grilled red meats and tomatoe based sauces.
Merlot: Wine of Wines, Merlot has transcended the ages. Many wine schollars would argue though wine began in Greece in ancient times, ha, they would say that it was Merlot that was made. The erstwhile winemakers of Bordeaux Valley in France would say the same that Merlot started it all. To be sure, it stands as its own sipping wine, but is very strong (and the highest alcohol content of all table wines). It pairs well with heavy pasta dishes and tomatoe based causes.
- I hope this helps in the understanding of delicious and beautiful wines! Enjoy!