There are countless varieties of wine in the world. Different varietals, blends, fortified wines, still wines and sparkling wines; dry wines and sweet wines. This offers a concise overview of the varieties you're most likely to encounter.

Dessert wines
As the name implies, dessert wines are a tasty way to end a meal. Sauternes, Tokajs and ice wines are among the favorites enjoyed with after-dinner foods that compliment sweetness like fruit, nuts, ightly sweetened baked goods and paté. Desserts with added sugar like ice cream and treacle work better with brandy or dry sherry.

Port is a thick, sweet, blended wine made from Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and other minor grapes. It is a "fortified" wine which means during the wine-making process extra alcohol in the form of brandy is added during fermentation. It is named after the city of Oporto, Portugal, where it was first produced and genuine Port comes from Oporto.

Ruby ports are aged in the bottle while tawnies are aged in cask and pick up some characteristics from the wood.

Sherry is the Spanish answer to Port. It originated in the Jerez region of Spain. The term "Sherry" is an English corruption of "Jerez." Sherry is also a fortified wine made by adding grape spirits, after fermentation and is primarily made from the
Palomino grape.

Think pink when you think Rosé wines. Crisp, light and refreshing, rosé wines are wonderful for picnics and other outdoor occasions. Good rosés have many of the best characteristics of reds and whites. They go well with foods and make refreshing stand-alone wines. Most rosés are made from red grapes. During the winemaking process, the red grape skins are left in contact with the juice just long enough to give the wine its pink color. The Appellation d'origine Contrôlée, Tavel, on the right bank of the Rhone, is rosé's home.

Sparkling wine, Champagne, Cava, Spumante... carbon dioxide makes puts the sparkle into sparkling wines. there are three basic methods to infusing the carbon dioxide into the wine:
Méthode champenois is the in-bottle second fermentation method is used in the Champagne Region in France as well as some other countries. Today the term "traditional method" is now used for champagnes made outside of the Champagne REgion in France.
Charmat process aka the "bulk process," undergoes second fermentation in large steel vats.
Carbon dioxide injection is a techniques in which carbon dioxide is injected into the wine. Sparkling wines made with this technique should be labeled "aerated Sparkling wine made with the addition of carbon dioxide." Inexpensive sparkling wines are made with this process.

From hearty Burgundies to playful Oregon Pinot Noirs, you'll want to get at least passingly familiar with red wine basics -- there's so much to know.
• Most reds should be served slightly cooler than room temperature (about 65F degrees)
• Younger, fruity reds should be slightly chilled
• Thomas Jefferson was partial to fine Bordeaux and Madeira
• About 50 percent of the wine consumed in the U.S. is red
• Some people get a "red wine headache" that is probably attributable to a sulfite allergy

There's plenty to learn about white wine as well. There's a lot more to it that just "white goes with fish."
• Under that skin, the pulpy part of a white grape is the same color as a red grape.
• In 2005 Chardonnay accounted for 26 percent of all wine shipped from California.
• Chardonnay is planted on 95,000 acres of vineyards.
• In 2005, 41 percent of wine sold was white wine.