Of all the wines out there, there’s something simply wonderful about a good red wine. While whites and rose wines have a beautiful, light flavour and texture, the rich taste and full body of a good red is always something to savour.
You’d be surprised by how many different types of red wine there are! Red wine is made in dozens of countries around the world – from the United States to Chile to Spain to New Zealand – and each country offers its own delightful mixture of flavours, tastes, and textures.
There are hundreds of different red grape varieties, in fact all grapes were once red as white grapes come from a mutation that stops the colour forming in the skins.
If you’re looking for the best types of red wine, here are a few you MUST try:
Also known as Garnacha, Grenache is a wine that mixes the bright flavours of berries with soft acidity, and often a hint of spice thrown into the combination. It has a light colour, medium body, low tannins, and alcohol content can be 14%+. Grenache is often blended with other grapes such as Syrah/Shiraz.
The Grenache grape is grown in Spain, Australia and Southern France, where it is the primary ingredient in famous wines such Côtes du Rhône. The flavours can vary according to the region:
- Australian Grenache is inky purple in colour, with a powerful, but silky mouthfeel. It is famous here for being the lead varietal in the ‘GSM’ blend – a full-bodied, rich wine made from Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvedre (sometimes called Mataro in Australia). See Cinnabar ‘GSM’ Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
Cinnabar Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre
- Spanish Garnacha wine is fuller-bodied and spicier, thanks to the hotter climate and later ripening. Cherry, blackberry and liquorice are all common flavours for the wine. See Terrae No Added Sulphur Garnacha
Terrae SO2 Free Garnacha Bodegas Tempore
- French Grenache wine has smokier notes, with herbal flavours like lavender, tobacco, and oregano. The wine can have a lower alcohol content here, but quality wine regions such as Vacqueyras can often be 14.5 or 15% alcohol. See Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras Fruit Sauvage
AOC Vacqueyras Fruit Sauvage Clos de Caveau
Fiesta Azul y Garanza DO Navarra is a brilliant Spanish Garnacha–one of the best organic red wine choices around.
Fiesta Azul y Garanza DO Navarra
If you’re looking for one of the most popular types of red wine in the world, look no further than Syrah – also known as Shiraz.
Syrah wines are as full-bodied as they get, with rich flavours, smooth tannins, and an alcohol content of up to 15%. Shiraz grapes are cultivated around the world, with some of the more popular growing regions being:
- France (specifically in the Rhone Valley)
Shiraz was a term used mainly in the ‘New World’, but the terms are now used interchangeably, with many French wines labelled as Shiraz, while many ‘New World’ wines now use Syrah.
One of the great things about Shiraz/Syrah is that it has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any of the types of red wine. For health purposes, a bottle of Syrah/Shiraz organic red wine will be a heart-smart addition to your diet.
Shiraz/Syrah has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any of the types of red wine. #redwine #antioxidant
Click to Tweet
You’ll find that the flavours of a proper Syrah differ according to the growing region, with some of the most common flavours including: blackberry, peppermint, vanilla, spices. Syrah/Shiraz has a beautifully velvety finish to it, making it one of the best types of red wine to pair with heavier meats like beef, duck, venison and lamb.
For a brilliant organic red wine, try the Hemp House Syrah from Minervois in France, a top biodynamic Syrah that is made in a winery built from hemp bricks!
AOC Cru La Liviniere Minervois Hemp House Syrah
You can’t think of red wine without thinking about a good Cab!
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular of the grape varieties used to make red wine, due to the simple fact that it can grow pretty much anywhere! Its history goes back to the 17th Century, when a crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc produced their now famous offspring. The name Cabernet “Sauvignon” is derived from the French word for “savage“, which is used to describe the grape’s hardiness.
Cabernet Sauvignon wine is often used in blends, as the wine has a very deep, rich red colour that helps to darken lighter-coloured wines. The wine is is opaque, and has the classic ruby/purple colour that we associate with red wine.
Pro Tip: Young Cabernet Sauvignon wines tend to be a bit harsher, with higher tannin content. The best Cabs are cellared in oak barrels for several months or even years. The oak helps to soften the tannins, making the wine a more approachable, and the extra years of aging bring out the rich flavours and complexity of the grape.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine that pairs excellently with meat dishes, as well as dark chocolate and stronger, sharper cheeses.
Terra Tangra Organic Cabernet Sauvignon from Bulgaria is a great example of the grape, blended with some Merlot and Mavrud, and it’s a wonderful organic red wine!
Terra Tangra Organic Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Mavrud
Merlot is another grape popular for blending, thanks to its dark colour – almost a deep blue like blueberries!
The flavours of Merlot wine tend to be fuller and softer than Cabernets, with less tannin even when the wine is young. It is one of the most affordable of the red wines, as well as the most approachable.
Merlot grows all around the world, including:
- France (particularly Bordeaux)
The grape can handle a lot of heat, and it has a wide ripening window. It is commonly blended with Cabernets and other wines, and it is an ingredient in many of the best wines in the world.
It has deep, fruity flavours, though much more intense than sweet. There are aromatic hints of currants, vanilla, berries, and plums. The wine pairs nicely with grilled steaks, fuller-flavoured cheeses, and tomato sauce-based dishes.
Wild Thing Merlot is a Spanish organic red wine with ripe flavours of plum and high fruit notes that you can’t help but love.
Wild Thing Merlot
Ethereal and fickle Pinot Noir is prized by winemakers and drinkers alike for the delicate, nuanced flavours it can provide, but its thin skin and susceptibility to disease make it tricky to grow. Burgundy is its spiritual homeland, but many other regions make excellent examples. It’s also used in Champagne, where the grapes are gently pressed to keep a pale colour.
While the mouthfeel is light and silky, with little tannin, the flavours can be like fresh raspberries and strawberries. More premium Pinot Noirs can develop secondary characters variously described as ‘forest floor’ or ‘earthy’ aromas. These might sound off-putting, but when combined with the fruit flavours, it makes for an intoxicating scent.
Pinot Noir is grown across the globe as winemakers are so often seduced by its charms and challenges, and it is frequently found in:
- France – its true home is Burgundy, but Languedoc now makes some excellent value alternatives
- New Zealand – increasingly producing world-class examples with outstanding quality of fruit
- South America – cooler and higher sites are being used in both Chile and Argentina to find the elegance associated with top quality Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is unusual in that it is very rarely blended. The most notable example of blended Pinot Noir is Champagne, where it is a key ingredient in most wines, although it is pressed very gently so as to extract no colour from the skins.
Due to its lightness, it can be paired with both white and red meat, and even fish such as turbot and tuna. ‘Earthier’ examples from Burgundy can be the perfect wine for game such as pheasant and grouse.
Try the classic Bourgogne Pinot Noir from Michel Magnien which shows elegance, finesse and beautiful purity of fruit.
Bourgogne Pinot Noir
Of course, these are just a few of the more popular types of red wine to try. They’ll introduce you to the elegant, highly varied world of wines, but it’s up to you to find more adventurous choices for your taste buds.
Want access to a wide selection of top-quality wines of all types from around the world? Visit Vintage Roots and see what we have to offer…