For us, it's all about maximising the pleasure you get from wine and helping you make the best matches for your taste; that's why we've put together these wine style descriptions.
Thinking about wine by style rather than by country or region gets to the heart of things – what the wine tastes like – and can help widen your world of wines. So, if you're hooked on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, but interested in trying something different, take a look in 'Crisp and Fresh Whites' for tips on other wines that can offer similar aromas and flavours.
Just a note before you start reading… the descriptions below are broad brushstrokes only – giving our take on wine styles and explaining the descriptions we use here at Duncan Murray Wines. If you'd like more information, please get in touch. Visit the shop or email.
White Wine Styles
Crisp and fresh whites
Key notes: Crisp, dry and refreshing. Freshness is to the fore with fruitiness accompanying.
Typical aromas and flavours: Fruit flavours tend to include lemon, lime, grapefruit, green apple and gooseberry.
Structure: Light-bodied, good acidity. Meant to be drunk young and youthful.
Examples of 'Crisp and Fresh' whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Picpoul de Pinet, Vinho Verde, Muscadet, English whites using grapes like Bacchus, Spanish whites; look out for the Verdejo grape.
Fresh and fruity whites
Key notes: Vivacious fruit, smooth and concentrated.
Typical aromas and flavours: The fruit is to the fore and might be citrus or tropical. Often particularly good with food as the fresh yet fuller flavour can stand up to a range of dishes – even spicy ones.
Structure: Light-medium bodied. Wines are dry, but with a richer mouth-feel due to riper fruit.
Examples of 'Fresh and Fruity whites: Unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Vermentino. Portuguese whites from the Dao, Douro and Alentejo. Sicilian whites such as Inzolia or Grillo.
Scratch 'n' sniff (whites with fabulous aromas)
Key notes: Aromas are the defining feature of this category; the sweetness or body of these wines may vary.
Typical aromas and flavours: Often floral; honeysuckle, jasmine, rose for example. Minerality comes through as a sense of sniffing pebbles. Fruit can be tropical, citrus and sometimes a 'sweetshop' fiesta of Turkish delight, lemon sherbet and rosy apples.
Structure: These wines may vary in 'weight' and dryness, but intensity of aroma and flavour is evident. Texture – can be oily, grainy, mineral.
Examples of 'Scratch 'n' Sniff' whites: Rieslings, Grüner Veltliners, Gewürztraminers, Torrontes, Viognier, Albariños, some Pinot Gris wines, some Sauvignon Blancs.
Key notes: Rich and mouth-coating intensity with ripe, seductive fruit.
Typical aromas and flavours: Mouth-filling flavours of peach, apricot, tropical fruit and ripe citrus. Can have a mineral quality depending on where it's from. Feeling of rich fruit – can seem sweet, but it's from the intensity of the fruit rather than any additional sugar.
Structure: Full-bodied, often oaked, rich mouth-feel. The use of oak gives a creamy, toasty texture.
Examples of 'Voluptuous' whites: White Burgundy, New World Chardonnay, Spanish 'Priorat', Southern French oaked styles.
Red Wine Styles
Light and fruity reds
Key notes: Light and elegant with juicy, fresh fruit.
Typical aromas and flavours: Bright, sometimes 'crunchy' red berry fruit flavours. These wines are often best when drunk young as it is their youthfulness that gives the fresh mouth feel.
Structure: Light-medium bodied, light tannins, good acidity – that lip-smacking feeling. Not intense – more restrained and elegant.
Examples of 'Light and Fruity' reds: Pinot Noir, Gamay, Italian Nebbiolo, New World Merlot
Smooth and rounded reds
Key notes: Ripeness of fruit and easy-going, rounded character.
Typical aromas and flavours: Often produced in warmer climes, these wines have characteristics of stewed red fruit and secondary flavours of spice, toast, leather. The result is easy drinking reds.
Structure: Generally medium-bodied, smooth in the mouth, softer tannins
Examples of 'Smooth and Rounded' reds: Southern French reds, Southern Portuguese Reds (from the Alentejo in particular), Rioja, red Bordeaux, Merlots, Chiantis.
Spicy 'nicey' reds
Key notes: Vibrant and aromatic fruit and intensity of flavour.
Typical aromas and flavours: Identified by spicy flavours such as black pepper, cinnamon, clove. Usually have fresh fruit aromas and flavours – as opposed to stewed fruit – often berries. Often have a mineral component. The fruit is fresh as wines in this category are often from grapes grown in moderate climates rather than very hot ones.
Structure: Medium to full-bodied, perceptible acidity and tannins, have structure in the mouth; can be dense, grainy, silky.
Examples of 'Spicy Nicey' reds: Syrah/Shiraz, Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Carignan, Carmenere, Malbec, Montepulciano, Mourvedre, Pinotage, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Xynomavro, Zinfandel.
Darth Vader in Slippers
Key notes: The key is the intensity and complexity of the flavour and the 'weight' in the mouth.
Typical aromas and flavours: Who's the Daddy?! These wines have power and elegance, so there's a lot going on. Rich, dark fruit is often present with complex flavours of spice, herbal notes, tobacco, fruit cake…
Structure: Full-bodied, intense. Texture is dense with evident tannins.
Examples of 'Darth Vader in Slippers' reds: California Cabernets and Merlots, Barolos, Brunello di Montalcinos, Rhône reds, and similar wines. Southern French 'big' reds. styles.
Rosé Wine Styles
'Rosé Glow' Rosés
Key notes: It's all in the colour – which is determined by how long the grape skins have been in contact with the juice and the grapes used. In Provence, the colour is salmon pink and style is light and dry. Move to the New World, where fuller-bodied red grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) are often used in Rosé and it's a far fuller, robust wine. And go to California, the home of 'white' Zinfandel and you're looking at a sugary 'blush' wine.
Typical aromas and flavours: Rosé is made from red grapes and so it often reflects those grapes' flavours, but in a more delicate way. Classically this gives you flavours of light, red fruits such as raspberries, strawberries and cherries and you might also detect citrus and the odd hint of watermelon.
Structure: Rosé will vary in body and dryness depending on how it's made, where it's made, the grapes used, the environment, the wine makers style…
Examples of 'Rosé Glow' Rosés: Provencal Rosé, Sancerre Rosé, Pinot Grigio Rosato, Rioja Rosé.