A Guide to Red Wines

Red winemaking kit

Red wine is the most popular wine choice for the dinner table. Known for its firm and bold taste, it blends well with most dinner options. Full-bodies red wines pair very well with heavier foods, while light-bodied red wines pair well with fair, lighter meals. With many types of red wine grapes found around the world, we've compiled a list of the top most popular red wines. Become a master of red wine with our guide, and learn to make these wines from the comfort of your own home with a red wine making kit.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Originating in Bordeaux, France. A natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Grown around the world, cooler climates such as Bordeaux and Washington State will show more red fruits with a lighter body, warmer climates such as California and Australia will exhibit more black fruits with higher alcohol levels.

Profile: Full body, high tannin, noticeable acidity

Taste: Black Cherry, blackcurrant, red pepper, spices, cedar

Style: Full- bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Lamb, beef, savory cheeses (cheddar, smoked gouda)

Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (Bordeaux Blend)

Originating in Bordeaux, France. Blends dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon are typically more tannic with more pepper flavors, while those that are Merlot dominant have smoother tannins and more of a fruity taste. This blend is seen around the world. Those grown in cooler climates such as Bordeaux or Chile will have more pepper and bay leaf flavors while those grown in warmer climates such as South Africa or Spain will have flavors of chocolate and menthol. This blend can also have small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, or Carmenere to add complexity to the wine.

Profile: Full body, high tannin, medium acidity

Taste: Plum, cedar, violet, blackberries, black cherry

Style: Full-bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Beef, lamb, venison, savory cheeses (cheddar, smoked gouda)

Corvina (Amarone)

Grown in the Veneto region of Italy, it is often used in blends with Rondinella and Molinara (indigenous grapes to Italy) in the wines of Valpolicella. It’s signature tart cherry flavor and high acidity balances out other grapes in the blends.

Profile: Light to medium body, medium tannin, medium to high acidity

Taste: Tart cherry, almond, chocolate, cinnamon

Style: Light to medium body red wine

Food Pairing: Salami, bruschetta, beef stew

Corvina/Rondinella (Valpolicella)

The most well-known wine from Valpolicella. The Corvina, Corvinone, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes are partially dried before crushing and making wine. This means that juice yields are low while the sugar content is high. The price of the bottle reflects the cost it takes to make the wine. It is recommended that the wine be aged for up to 25 years.

Profile: Medium body, medium sweetness, low tannins, high acidity and low to medium alcohol

Taste: Tart cherry, almond, cocoa, cinnamon

Style: Medium-bodied semi-sweet red wine blend

Food Pairing: Steak, aged cheese, chicken

Merlot

Originating in Bordeaux, France.  Grown all over the world, cooler climates like Bordeaux and Washington State will see more plum and cedar flavors, while warmer climates such as Argentina or Australia will seem more blackberry and vanilla flavors.

Profile: Medium body, noticeable tannin, medium acidity

Taste: Plum, cocoa, cedar, black cherry, raspberry

Style: Medium-body red wine

Food Pairing: Pork, BBQ ribs, savory and salty cheeses (Asiago, Mozzarella)

Nebbiolo (Barolo)

Originating from the Barolo region of Piedmont, Italy. Grows in warmer climates of the world; notably Italy, Mexico, and Australia. High tannin and high acidity make this wine great for aging. Aged Nebbiolo will have flavors of fig and molasses.

Profile: Medium to full body, high tannins, high acidity

Taste: Cherry, leather, floral, clay, anise

Style: Full-bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Fatty dishes, beef, lamb

Pinot Noir

Originating in Burgundy, France, this wine is grown throughout the world. Cooler climates like Burgundy and Oregon will show more cranberry flavors while warmer climates like New Zealand and Argentina will have a ripe plum flavor and be a bit fuller in body. Pinot Noir is traditionally used to make rosé and Champagne alongside Chardonnay.

Profile: Light body, low tannin, medium acidity

Taste: Cranberry, raspberry, ripe cherry, mushrooms

Style: Light-bodied red wine

Shiraz (Australian)

Also called Syrah elsewhere in the world, this grape originated in the Rhone Valley of France but is grown throughout the world. Warmer climates like Australia and Spain will have more flavors of blueberry and blackberry while cooler climates like the Rhone or Washington State will have more of a dark berry jam flavor. Syrah is often used in blends, including the Rhone Valley’s signature blends of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

Profile: Full body, medium tannins, high acidity, high alcohol

Taste: Cocoa, tobacco, plum, blueberry

Style: Full-bodied red wine

Food Pairing: Beef, lamb, pork

 


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