Your Guide to Wine Varieties & Styles

wine selection on display

The world of wine is a massive one. Our province alone produces dozens of types of wine, plus wine is shipped in from all over the world for casual drinkers and connoisseurs alike. Wine is divided at the highest level into whites and reds, but as you know, there is plenty of nuance to explore. Each variety provides unique flavours, aromas and colours, thanks to different grape varieties, growing conditions, and production methods.

After working your way through this guide, you’ll have some introductory knowledge of the common wine varieties and styles, which will help you navigate your personal taste and your local liquor store.



As wine is produced from grapes, every bottle you find in store will be made with either red or white grapes. Red wines are made strictly from red grapes, which are known for a deep red colour, bold flavour, and the taste of tannins. White wines come from white grapes, and tend to be more floral, fruity, and refreshing.

Rose wines are a little different. They might look like they’re made from a combination of red and white grapes, but they’re actually just made with skinless red grapes. The removal of the skin also removes the tannins and gives the wine a flavour profile similar to that of a white wine.


Red Wines

cheers with red wines


Merlot is a dark coloured wine that is planted all over the world. Known for being a little simpler and more straightforward on the palate, Merlot typically has tastes of dark fruit like plums. There is also a higher alcohol percentage. Growing conditions and aging also play a part – Merlot grown in cooler climates like BC tend to have herbal flavours, and Merlot that is aged a long time becomes even more herbal or spicy. Warm varieties of Merlot are used frequently in Bordeaux.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is known as a ‘black grape variety’ because the grapes are even darker and produce a darker coloured wine. The famous Bordeaux blend from France relies on Cabernet Franc as one of the 6 permitted varieties.

Cabernet has a medium body and some pretty strong tannins, especially if grown in a warmer climate. Red fruit flavours are common in Cabernet Francs, along with very high levels of acidity.


Malbec is grown as a purple grape that originated in France but is now synonymous with Argentina and can be grown all over the world. Because of this, Malbec can be grown as a white or red grape.

The profile of tannins in Malbec is robust, but not quite to the same level as Cabernet Sauvignon. These strong tannins, dark colour, and classic red fruit flavours make Malbec an excellent pairing for your next barbeque.


Rioja wine is a very popular red wine blend named after a large region in Spain. Rioja is made from the tempranillo grape – the third most frequently grown grape on Earth, along with Mazuelo, Garnacha, and Graciano grapes. If you look for Spanish wine at your local liquor store, chances are much of the red stuff will be Rioja or straight Tempranillo.

Rioja wines are moderately sweet with low acidity and a medium body and tannins. Watch for flavour notes of vanilla and dark fruit


This red wine grape is very often produced and sold as a single varietal wine. Also known as Shiraz, Syrah wines have become plenty popular in the past couple decades. Syrah grapes are native to the Rhône valley, but they’re also very popular in Australia, Chile, and South Africa.

These wines have a full body compared to others on this list, while providing similar dark fruit flavours.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely recognized wines on the plane, grown everywhere from New Zealand to Europe to the Middle East to right here in BC. A key player in the famous Bordeaux blend, Cab Sauv quickly made a name for itself in Europe, the Napa Valley, and beyond. Cab Sauv came about when they mixed Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc a few hundred years ago, making it one of the newer varieties of wine.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is another red that’s grown high and low around the world. Commonly associated with the Burgundy region of France, Pinot Noir is also quite popular in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and the US. It’s used most notably in red wines but can also be used to produce sparkling wines and champagne.

Pinot Noir is known for being lighter in colour than other red wines, which confusingly does not mean the wine is ‘light’ in taste. Pinot Noirs are medium-bodied wines that typically come with flavours of berries and other red fruit.


Chianti is a very popular Italian wine, produced in the Chianti region of esteemed central Tuscany. Chianti is a blend made primarily from the Sangiovese grape, which translated from Latin roots into “the blood of Jupiter”.

Chianti is a true light-bodied wine, with a good level of acidity and tannins. Common flavour notes include tart cherries, balsamic vinegar, herbs, smoke, and game.


White Wines

enjoying glasses of white wine

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a widely drank variety of white grapes with green skin. Originating in Bordeaux, France, Sauvignon Blanc is now grown across Europe, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and North America.

Thriving in numerous climates, this wine takes on very different flavour profiles depending on where it came from. Cooler climates produce a Sauv Blanc with tropical fruit flavours and higher levels of acidity, while Sauv Blancs from warmer climates tend to lose some of their aromas due to over ripeness.


Chardonnay is the single most popular white wine on the planet, partly because the grapes are able to grow in almost all the world’s major wine regions. It’s widely loved on its own for its drinkability, light body, and low acid levels, but it’s also one of the three principal varieties used in Champagne.

The taste can vary a huge amount depending on where the Chardonnay comes from. New Zealand Chardonnay are citrusy and peachy, while French Chardonnays are typically associated with the oaky flavour.


Gewürztraminer, frequently referred to as Gewürz, is a slightly pink and reddish grape that produces a white wine. An extremely aromatic white wine with subtle sweetness and off-dry taste, Gewürz thrives in cool climates. While the origins aren’t 100% clear, this wine came about in Europe, in both Germany and German-speaking areas of Italy. Today, Gewürz is grown all over Europe, the US, South America, and the Middle East.


Riesling is a white variety grape that originated from the Rhine region in Germany and thrives in cool climates like this. Still a major wine variety from Germany, Riesling is grown all over world including here in BC.

Considered a “big three” white variety along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Rieslings something unique to the table. What sets Rieslings apart is the noticeable acidity. Typically sweeter, you’ll notice flavour notes of apple and other sweet tree fruit.

Pinot Grigio

Frequently referred to as Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio is a pinkish-gray grape that descended from Pinot Noir. People have been sipping this white wine for literally hundreds of years, as Pinot Grigio was discovered during the Middle Ages in the 1300s. It was first discovered in the Burgundy region of France, but it didn’t take long to reach Switzerland.

Depending on where its grown, the wine will appear dark golden yellow, copper, or slightly pink. Pinot Gris from Italy is lighter and more acidic, which is imitated well thanks to the climates of Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest.


Whether you’re ready to expand your horizons or just on the lookout for your next bottle of wine for dinner, stop by one of Springs Group’s 14 liquor stores to browse our incredible selection of wines from all over the world. Plus, we’ve got the friendliest staff around to give you a hand.