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Different Types of Red Wine

Different Types of Red Wine

Suppose you are invited to a party and there are wines being served. You know only about red wine and ask for it. To your surprise, you are asked to choose from various red wines; Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, etc. You end up being confused, thinking which wine to choose. Here's your guide to different types of world-famous red wines to help you in such situations.
Sourabh Gupta
Wine is an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice. The process involves using various kinds of yeast, which consume sugar present in the juice and convert them to alcohol. Wines are generally named after the fruit they are made from. For example, wine made from apple is called apple wine, or if it's made from grape, it is called grape wine.

There's an interesting fact about the color of wines. Mostly, all kinds of grape juices are colorless. However, while making wine, grapes are soaked with their skin until the red color bleeds out; this is how the red wines get their color. In this process, the amount of tannin present increases. Tannin is a natural substance present in wines responsible for the flavor. Tannin also helps in the aging process, that is, wines with high amount of tannin age faster.

Red wines originated in France, but there are world famous wines from Italy too. There are numerous types of red wines, and making an exhaustive list is almost impossible. Some of the best are given below:


Barbera is a wine from Italy's Piedmont region. It has almost similar attributes of Merlot, but is not as famous. Barbera is acidic, light in tannin, and is used as a blending wine. This Italian wine contains flavors of plum fruit and black cherry, and is also widely used in California. Barbera is very volatile and can be served with many popular dishes.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon, often referred to as 'The King of Red Wines', is the most common in America. It originated in the Bordeaux wine region of France. This wine is often considered as one of the best varieties in the world. Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and is purple in color. This wine is aged in oak barrels for many years. Some of the best Cabernets are aged up to 15 years. The Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grow well in warm climates, so the wine takes more time to mature. Cabernets have a flavor of black currant along with a spicy aroma. Cabernet Sauvignon is often taken as the base wine for making famous blends like Chateau Mouton Rothschild. This wine has many health benefits, as it helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Cabernet Sauvignon is best served with red meat.


Most novice wine drinkers often choose Cabernet or Merlot. But, as consumers become more knowledgeable, they opt for something new. Malbec is becoming quite a brand with oenophiles. This grape is generally found in Cohors and South West France. In the 1800s, a French agricultural engineer experimented with the idea of growing the Malbec grapes in Argentina, and his experiment was successful. The grapes produced in Argentina are much softer and contain less tannin, which makes the wine suitable for blending. The wine is dark and juicy containing flavors of plum, raspberry, and chocolate. Malbec is best served with roasted meat.


Merlot means easy to drink. This is a perfect red wine for first-time drinkers, as it is very soft and light. This wine is made from merlot grapes and is deep in color. Merlot wine generally contains less tannin and high alcohol content. With a flavor of cherry and plum, this wine is mild and less acidic. Popularly grown in Bordeaux region of France, these are now grown in California, Washington, Oregon, Italy, and Australia as well.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir grapes are difficult to grow but if grown well, these grapes can be made into one of the best wines in the world. It requires quite an effort to grow these grapes. Pinot Noir, known as Spatburgunder in Germany, requires warm sunny days followed by cool evenings. Because of these peculiar condition requirements, Pinot Noir is not easily available.

Pinot Noir may cost you more as the production is less. This grape is generally found in the Burgundy region of France, though Oregon and cooler regions of California have started growing the grape recently. This French wine is light in color and its amount of tannin is less. It contains juicy fruits and tastes like strawberry, black cherry, spices, mint, etc. It has a velvety and seductive flavor. Pinot Noir has an alluring aroma that is linked to herbs, coffee, and even roses. This wine is one of the three varieties (along with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier), used to make Champagne.

Because of its seductive flavor, Pinot Noir is often associated with romance. Here are some of the interesting things people have said about this wine. Joel Fleischman of Vanity Fair describes Pinot Noir as, "The most romantic of wines, with so voluptuous a perfume, so sweet an edge, and so powerful a punch that, like falling in love, they make the blood run hot and the soul wax embarrassingly poetic." Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon christened it, "Sex in a glass." "A seductive yet fickle mistress!", is what Peter Richardson of OenoStyle, says about Pinot Noir. Grilled salmon, chicken, and lamb are the best pairing for Pinot Noir.


Sangiovese is a signature red wine grape from Tuscany region of Italy. Tuscany is the agricultural heartland for this grape. This grape takes time to mature and lingers longer on the vine. Italian Chianti and Chianti Classico are two good example of wines made from Sangiovese. The name Sangiovese comes from the word sanguis jovis, which means 'blood of jove'. Jove is the Roman name for god Jupiter. First time drinkers may find Sangiovese wine quite acidic. It has a fair amount of bitterness because of the presence of high quantity of tannin. Sangiovese can be served with Italian cuisine.


Syrah or Shiraz are two names of the same variety. European vintners use the term Syrah, whereas Australians call it Shiraz. It is popular in Australia, California, and France's Rhone Valley. This wine is less acidic, making it more drinkable. However, French Shiraz is quite acidic. It is deep red in color and exhibits flavors of spice and fruit. The wine is best served with meat and beef. Syrah also has a good aroma.


Zinfandel is found only in California and has been a cornerstone of the California viticulture scene for a long time. It is often considered as ladies wine because of its subtle and light flavor. An interesting fact is that, it is found in both red and white varieties, but it's the red version which is more accepted by wine drinkers around the world. Zinfandel tastes of berries; raspberry, blackberry, and cranberry, and are consumed young within 3 or 4 years. It has low to moderate acidity and a high alcohol content. Unlike other wines, Zinfandel blooms in heat and sunshine. These are best served with typical American fast foods like burgers, tomato sauce pastas, and pizzas.

If your friends or colleagues are wine lovers, red wine is a perfect gift idea for them. Moreover, it is impossible to ignore its health benefits. After reading so much, you must surely have become a wine connoisseur!