Red wine is the kind of wine most people enjoy, despite not really understanding it. Although not many would like to admit it, most wine drinkers can’t tell the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Malbec. No worries! We are true believers of wine education sans embarrassment. If you want to know, you should always ask.
With hundreds of varieties of red wine grapes, there is only so much information to digest. There are simply as many facts to learn about red wine as grape varieties planted. And that’s alright because you’ll likely just encounter a handful of these varieties. Let’s delve into the flavors of the major types of red wine and explore their characteristics. Don’t forget that you will certainly find more red wine types beyond this list, but this fits the bill for a quick and easy red wine 101.
Major Types of Red Wine
Cabernet Sauvignon: widely recognized as one of the best varieties, cab is certainly the most well-known red wine grape among consumers. Grown all over the world, it is bold, high in acidity, savory and firm. Despite its worldwide recognition in cult winemaking, it rarely achieves greatness. Cab latches onto fat and salt perfectly—that is to say, it goes well with meats and steaks.
Merlot: easy on the palate, the softness of Merlot has made it an introductory wine for red wine drinkers. It is likeable, agreeable and versatile and encompasses watermelon, cherry, plum, herbal and strawberry flavors. Inherently luscious, soft and fruity, the Merlot yields a smoother texture for which it usually gets a bad rap. Do not let naysayers discourage you when compared to other wines, because Merlot is a powerful red wine type.
Malbec: let’s imagine the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot fell in love and had a child, this one would be Malbec. Somewhere between the strength of a Cabernet and the softness of a Merlot lies this wonder. The best of both worlds, Malbec’s characteristics vary greatly depending on where it is grown and transformed. It usually affords a nice smokey, toasty flavor. As one of the blending grapes of Bordeaux, Malbec has risen to prominence all over the world.
Syrah or Shiraz: this wine boasts aromas and flavors of wild black fruit, with overtones of black pepper spice and roasted meat. The fruit sensations are complemented by warm alcohol and gripping tannings. In the United States, Syrah excels particularly in California. This variety can make some of the finest red wines in the world.
Grenache/Garnacha: a sterling variety, Grenache makes some of the greatest wines of Spain and Australia. An early- ripening grape, Grenache leans towards high alcohol and low acidity. It is perfect to create fruity, spiced, bold-flavored wines reminiscent of a softer version of Syrah. Grenache is best paired with pork, poultry, barbecue or fish. Lastly, Grenache is a signature wine variety of Spain as our international wine line VenToSpain proudly shows. Give it a sip!
Pinot Noir: supple, silky and fruity—but a tad more complex than a Merlot— Pinot Noir, trails behind the Cabernet in terms of overall wine popularity. It is one of the noblest red wine grapes, making some of the finest of Burgundy, Austria, California and Oregon. It’s excellent with grilled salmon, chicken, lamb and Japanese dishes. With its lighter body, if you want a sure thing but are also looking for something different, trust Pinot Noir in your glass.
Other Worthy Red Wine Types Mentions
As we have already said, there are plenty of red wine types to go around. If you really want to dive into the topic, you’ll find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of choices to discover. However, there are a few other red wine types worth highlighting. In our honorable mentions for red wine types we find the following:
- Zindanfel. It is considered “America’s variety” not found in many places outside the United States. Best suited for cheese-based foods such as pizza, lasagna, and the authentically American grilled cheese.
- Sangiovese. If Zindanfel is America’s red wine variety, Sangiovese is the Italian one. It is more tart, acidic and lighter in body than other styles. Being really dry and astringent, it goes better with food and not on its own.
- Barbera. Similar to a Merlot but not quite the same. Barbera boasts excellent acidity, juicy black cherry and plum fruit and a silky texture. It is widespread in California.
Choose VenToSpain for Your Next Spanish Red Wine
If you have never tasted Spanish wines before, it is never too late to give them a try. Are you curious about Spanish red wines? Check out our international wine line VenToSpain which has you covered with two distinctively Spanish red wine types. Our locally-produced Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache pack all the flavor and unique personality of Spain into the bottle. Do not miss out on discovering what VenToSpain has in store for you!