Red Wine Basics

Red Wine

Red wine is a constant staple at parties and holiday events, making it one of the most popular alcoholic drinks. It has gained a reputation for class, drinkability and an unmatched flavor. Not surprisingly, these qualities have earned it the appreciation of both wine connoisseurs and novices alike. However, a true connoisseur not only appreciates a fine glass of wine, but can also differentiate between its many varieties. Here are just a few of the most well-known red wines and their characteristics.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Often called “The King of Red Wines,” this is the most commonly consumed wine in the United States. Despite its popularity in North America, it originates in Bordeaux, France. The Cabernet dons a black currant flavor and a distinctive purple color. It is aged in oak barrels for up to fifteen years, giving it a slight vanilla undertone. It is also famous for its use in blends such as the Chateau Mouton Rothschild. It is best served with red meat. Furthermore, Cabernet Sauvignon can also reduce the chances of getting cardiovascular disease.

Novice drinkers should definitely begin with a glass Merlot, which directly translates into “easy to drink.” It is much lighter and softer than its counterparts, appealing to a wider range of taste preferences. It is noted for its rich cherry and plum flavors. It is also much milder, smoother and less acidic than the aforementioned Cabernet Sauvignon. It can be paired with essentially any kind of food.

Barbera shares many similarities with Merlot, including its fruity taste. It too has a plum and black cherry flavor. It is quite acidic, smooth and is frequently used as a blending wine. Barbera has gained widespread popularity in California, which can be attributed to its versatility. It goes well with essentially any dish, even those including tomato sauces.

Malbec offers a nice change for those who frequently enjoy Merlot and Cabernet. It is often thought of as an Argentine wine, but is also produced in Australia, Chile, France and California. The wine is deeply colored and contains the flavor of plums, raspberries and even chocolate. It can be paired with all meat dishes and is especially good with roasted meat. It even works well with Mexican, Indian, and Cajun cuisines.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is an expensive wine due to its difficulty to produce. Pinot Noir grapes can only be grown in conditions that support warm, sunny days with cool nights. It has a very distinctive flavor that is quite fruity and has even been described as romantic. The wine highlights the taste of black cherries, strawberries, mint and a multitude of spices. It is very soft, light in color and is one of the only wines used to make champagne. Pinot Noir is recommended with lamb, chicken, salmon and even sushi.

Produced in the Tuscany area of Italy, Sangiovese has become the most recognizable wine of the region. It is best suited for experienced wine drinkers, as the high acidity is hard for beginners to handle. Sangiovese is also very bitter due its tannin content. It has the taste of fresh berries and plums. In accordance with its Italian origin, it is best served with Italian cuisine and pastas.

Syrah is known for its strong red color and lower acidity. It has the flavor of black fruits such as the blackcurrant. It also contains a hint of black pepper and toffee, which can be attributed to its aging in oak barrels. Syrah goes best with steaks, beef and stews.

Native only to California, this wine can be produced in both the red and white varities. It has gained popularity with femlae wine lovers, due to its mild flavor and reduced acidity. Tastes are fresh and fruity with blackberry, cranberry and raspberry being the most prominent flavors. Surprisingly, this wine takes less than four years to be produced and consumed. Zinfandel is often served at barbecue events, as it goes best with traditional pizzas, pastas and hamburgers.
It is evident that red wine is far more complex than most realize. Hopefully, this brief overview will help you to choose a red wine that is ideally suited to your tastes.

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  1. Scott June 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Zinfandel isnt technically only “native” to California. In the “old world” you can find the same grape (genetically speaking) as Primitivo and Crljenak Kaštelanski. There are a handful of other nitpicks but ill leave those alone considering the “basic” nature of the post ;p.

  2. juliemarg July 6, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Let’s have a tossed in this great photo. Very nice! Don’t forget to visit my blog site at and get inspired.

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