What are your favourite red wine types? Red wine is one of the most exciting and sophisticated drinks out there, but it can be intimidating. After all, wine is a complex subject — the boozy fermented grape juice comes from over 70 countries, and it’s made with hundreds of different grapes. So, how to choose?
Red Wine Types You Should Know
The easiest way of identifying the different types of red wine is by the grapes used to make them. Still, no two bottles of wine are the same, so you must do some research and taste intensively to find the perfect bottle for you. Here are the top different red wines and how to choose the right one every time.
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of red grapes and the most popular type of red wine. This is not only the most planted red variety on earth, but it’s also the most versatile; it grows literally in every winemaking country. Cabernet Sauvignon is also known for producing long-lived and structured wines — the grape has a lot of tannins, the gritty particles that cause a drying sensation in the mouth.
Wines made with Cabernet are big and bold, and they’re also age-worthy. Expect to pay a premium for the finest examples. Enjoy Cabernet with red meat, fatty steaks, and other fatty food like duck confit.
2. Pinot Noir
If Cabernet Sauvignon is the king, Pinot Noir is undoubtedly the queen. This is the source of the famous Burgundian red wines, as age-worthy and sophisticated as they are easy to enjoy. Pinot Noir produces silky red wines with few noticeable tannins; the grape is often acidic as well, so the pale wines made with it are mouthwatering.
Pinot Noir prospers in France, yes, but also in cool-climate wine regions globally, from the California Coast to Australia and even England and Germany! Pinot Noir is often a bit pricey, and it’s because it’s a pain to grow, but a good bottle of Pinot is always worth the price.
Merlot is the second most planted red grape in the world, and it’s often Cabernet Sauvignon’s inseparable partner — blending them is not uncommon. Merlot, though, is not structured or overly tannic but medium-bodied, juicy, and brimming with black and blue fruit scents.
Merlot is best enjoyed with lean red meat, like a filet mignon. Roasted birds and sticky pork ribs are delicious with Merlot as well. You’ll find wine made with Merlot from almost every wine-producing country and at all price points.
Malbec is the quintessential red grape in Argentina. Although the grape has French origins, it’s in South America when it shows its best. Wine made with Malbec is fruit-forward, juicy, and plump. The best come from grapes grown at high altitudes, up there in the Andes mountains, but you’ll find wines with an excellent quality-price ratio for a fraction of the cost.
These are bold wines, but they’re never too astringent. Malbec is crowd-pleasing delicious, especially when served with barbecue, grilled meat, sausages, and meaty puff pastry empanadas.
Syrah is a wild red grape from France, but it feels right at home in Australia as well, where it’s known as Shiraz. Wines made with Syrah are bold and tannic, often with red and black fruit aromas, sometimes hints of black olives and even leather. New World examples are chocolaty and jammy.
French Syrah is superb with game, hearty stews, lamb, and other intensely flavored, meaty dishes. New World Syrah might just be the perfect wine for a thick, fatty steak.
Tempranillo is Spain’s flagship red grape and one of the most thrilling varietals. Producers make wine with Tempranillo all around the country, but the most famous come from Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Tempranillo is all about black fruit, oak spices, and leather, and the palate can be quite structured. Tempranillo can be the source of young, fruity red wines and contemplative, age-worthy examples. The best pairing for Tempranillo is wholesome tapas: cured ham, croquettes, sausages, and olives.
Nebbiolo is a famed Italian red grape, and it’s known for its high alcohol, intense tannins, and robust mouth-feel. These wines can age as well! The finest examples come from the appellations of Barolo and Barbaresco, and they’re pretty pricey, but there are less expensive Nebbiolo examples, and they’re worth seeking. This wine type offers aromas described by experts as “tar and roses.” Enjoy Nebbiolo wines with stews, broths, casseroles, beef shanks, and the likes.
Sangiovese is the ultimate Tuscan red grape, and it makes different red wines, from Chianti to Brunello di Montalcino. Some of the most expensive Italian reds are made with this noble varietal, but not all Sangiovese is pricey. Expect red fruit and undergrowth aromas with hints of wood over an addictive tart palate. Try this type of red wine with tomato sauces.
Gamay is Pinot Noir’s little sister, so to speak. This is one of the prettiest, fruit-forward red grapes, and it’s used to make the easy-to-drink French wine of Beaujolais. Gamay is lovely with ham and grilled chicken, but it’s delightful on its own as well. Most red wines made with Gamay are meant to be enjoyed young.
Grenache has French and Spanish roots; it thrives in warm climates. This unique grape has a thin skin, so it’s never too astringent — on the contrary, this one’s all about ripe red fruit and earthy aromas. Winemakers often blend Grenache with Syrah and others, but you can find a few lovely mono-varietals as well. Grenache pairs nicely with cured meats and sausages.
What Are Your Favorite Red Wine Types?
There’s no doubt there’s a type of red wine for every budget, palate, and occasion. Red wine is more than a boozy drink; it’s an experience! As you see, not all red wines are all that serious; some are a joy to sip! After all, wine is meant to be enjoyed, especially if shared with friends and family. Wine brings people together, and that’s what we love about it.