Understanding Types of Wine [Common Varietals & Their Taste]


Are you looking to broaden your knowledge of wine types? Each wine varietal has its own unique flavor profile and aromas. Whether you’re new to wine tasting or you’re a seasoned expert, there’s always more to learn, and the best way to acquire knowledge is by tasting.

Even the most ardent wine lovers out there are often surprised when they visit the Pacific Northwest’s wine regions, where a wide range of varietals are produced. Although less well-known than California’s wine country, the PNW is an ideal region for tasting. That’s because it boasts a wide array of wine varietals and blends and has a rich culture of boutique wineries.

Keep reading to discover the various types of wine produced in the PNW and learn about some of the wines you’d taste on a helicopter winery tour with Tour DeVine!

Wine varietals tasting in Oregon

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir was the first wine varietal to be produced in the Willamette Valley, and it remains the most famous and sought-after Oregon wine in the region to this day. Wine lovers from near and far travel to the great Northwest to taste the rich, full-bodied boutique blends. Generations of producers and vineyard operators have put decades of work, research, and dedication into discovering the best sites, soils, clones, and techniques to perfect their unique blends.

Pinot Noir is rich enough to drink on its own, commonly flavored with crunchy red berry varieties combined with earthy and acidic tones. It also pairs beautifully with salmon, roasted chicken, pasta dishes, and chocolate.

During a Tour DeVine helicopter wine tour, we stop at many wineries that are well-known for their incredible Pinot Noir!



Chardonnay is a full-bodied dry white wine made from green-skinned grapes that grow in a variety of climates. The world’s most popular white wine, it appeals to a wide audience due to its versatility. Chardonnay can vary significantly in taste depending on where it’s grown and how it’s made. It can be crisp and citrusy or rich and oaky.

Chardonnay pairs well with crab, lobster, chicken, mushrooms, light and creamy sauces, and soft cheeses like brie.


Gamay Noir

Although the PNW is known as a Pinot Noir paradise, a growing number of the region’s winemakers have embraced its lesser-known Burgundian cousin, Gamay Noir (or simply “Gamay”). Gamay and Pinot Noir share many similarities. Both grow well in cool climates and produce wines that are fruit-forward and acidic. However, Gamay tends to have more floral aromas, often of peonies and violets. Due to its low tannins and high acidity, it’s easy to drink and pairs well with a wide variety of foods.


White wine being poured at Youngberg Winery in OregonPinot Gris

Pinot Gris (also known by its Italian name “Pinot Grigio,” which often has a slightly different flavor profile) is an easy-drinking, light-bodied dry white wine. The cool climate of the Willamette Valley is ideal for growing Vitis vinifera, the grape variety used to make Pinot Gris. Although most people think of Pinot Noir when they think of Willamette Valley wine, Oregon Pinot Gris has become increasingly popular in recent years. Known for its zestiness and relatively high acidity, Pinot Gris often has notes of pear, apple, lime, honeysuckle, ginger, and spice.



Made in a wide range of styles and tastes, Riesling is always a fun wine for tasting! That’s because of its unique balance of flavors and wonderful ability to pair well with an array of foods, from delicate fish dishes, to chicken, to Cajun cuisine, to roasted vegetables. The Rieslings of the Pacific Northwest may be bone dry, super sweet, or anything in-between. Generally relatively acidic, with intense aromas and ripe citrus and fruit flavors that vary from blend to blend, it’s worth adding Willamette Valley Riesling to your must-taste list!


Wine tasting group with Tour DeVine disembarking from helicopter


Taste these signature wine varietals during a scenic tour of the Willamette Valley!

Tour DeVine’s helicopter wine tours offer a one-of-a-kind tasting experience, flying you around in style and bringing you to wineries that excel at making these must-taste varietals!

Take to the skies for a day of fun and take in the scenic views of Oregon wine country. Let us chauffeur you from tasting room to tasting room and enjoy some of the best wines the region has to offer. We have a variety of winery packages in three Willamette Valley AVAs: Chehalem Valley, Eola-Amity Hills, and McMinnville.

Book your tour today or contact us with any questions.