When it comes to red wine, it can get confusing as to which kind of wine is right for you. There is such a wide variety of grape types that go into wine production that you can find yourself bewildered when faced with a supermarket shelf.
To optimize the experience, red wines need time to age, then a minute of time to breathe once opened before serving. They do not need to be chilled, and they go well with strong flavours and dark meats.
In this article, different varieties of red wine grapes are detailed, giving you as chance to experiment with flavours whilst allowing you to get to know some of the products that are available.
On the whole, there are six classic red grape varieties that make up the majority of wines that are available for purchase. There of course others, but this is just an overview of the most common varieties available
Cabernet Sauvignon is traditionally associated with Bordeaux but is now grown all over the New World and Europe. It has a black current like taste, which is created from small grapes who have thick skins. Cabernet Sauvignon is probably one of the most established types of red wine and it covers the world, ranging from Eastern European (often tight budget) speciality wines, through Chilean and Australian varieties, through to the prestigious and historic red wines of Bordeaux that have been matured to produce smoother, generally more expensive wines.
Merlot is also traditionally associated with the Bordeaux region of France. It hasnít spread across the world in the same way as the Cabernet Sauvignon due to its more specific soil condition requirements. But it has found a happy new home in the valleys of Northern California. A rich, juicy wine, it has tastes resembling fruitcake and black currant.
Pinot Noir is associated with Burgundy region wineries, and until recently was not produced with particular success anywhere else. However New Zealand is now producing some very fine Pinot Noir wine. The wines produced by this grape are at first summery in their taste. They remind you of summer fruits. After five to ten years of maturing, however, this taste changes to become much richer, and deservedly more expensive.
Shiraz or Syrah
What the French call Syrah, is known by Australians as Shiraz. It is traditionally grown in the Rhone Valley, but has become popular right across the New World. There are great varieties of this distinct wine coming out of Australia, Chile, California and South Africa. It is one of the true favourites of people who prefer red wine. The flavour is fruity but sometimes can even be peppery, making it not a taste that everyone likes.
This is the most widely planted red grape in Italy. Famous for Chianti (a product of this grape), it has been regarded by many as a really tasty pour from the jug wine. It may not be a fruity wine, but it is a great partner for all types of food, it has a taste of black cherries but this is often not that obvious. It is starting to become better known, and is certainly one to look out for as the New World starts to get more interested in and good at growing Sangiovese grapes.
Nebbiolo is another of Northern Italy’s classic grapes which, despite being responsible for some of Italy’s finest wines, has not been made the jump into the New World. It’s spiritual home is Barolo, and it would seem ideally suited to planting in warmer climes. The taste is of black cherries and sometimes even chocolate making it a rich wine.
There are many more types of grape and particular blends of complementary grapes that go into making red wines, but this should give you an overview to start your sampling