As the days shorten and temperatures begin to fall, there’s no better time to enjoy a comforting glass of red wine. The following list will provide you with a selection of red wines to try from around the world!
In many circles, Cabernet Sauvignon is considered king, and for good reason – the grape can produce full-bodied, powerful red wines with plenty of acidity and tannins, making it an ideal candidate for long-term cellaring. The classic home of Cabernet Sauvignon is on the “Left Bank” of France’s Bordeaux region, where it plays a dominant role in many red wine blends from famous appellations, like Pauillac and Margaux. Cabernet Sauvignon is an important black grape variety in various regions throughout the world, such as California’s Napa Valley, Australia’s Margaret River, and Chile’s Colchagua Zone. Typical aromas and flavors found in Cabernet Sauvignon wines include blackberry, black currant (cassis), black cherry, violet, and graphite, though wines can come in a range of styles, depending on the growing region and winemaking methods.
Although it’s often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is a noble black grape variety in its own right. Bordeaux’s “Right Bank” produces the most collectible versions, particularly from Saint-Émilion and Pomerol. Merlot also thrives in Napa Valley, Washington State, and Chile’s Central Valley. Like Cabernet Sauvignon, wines produced from Merlot are full-bodied and fleshy, however, they usually possess softer tannins. Old World styles typically display blackberry and plum notes, whereas New World wines may offer more red berry fruits.
Prized for its perfumed and silky red wines, the thin-skinned Pinot Noir grape presents many challenges to the wine grower – too warm of a climate will produce jammy wines of little finesse, whereas if the climate is too cool, the variety will struggle to ripen. Producers in France’s Burgundy region are the authority on Pinot Noir, and believe that wine quality is unquestionably linked to “terroir,” the concept which asserts that wines are representative of the place from which they originate. California’s Russian River Valley and Carneros AVAs also produce exceptional Pinot Noir wines, as well as Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Pinot Noir wines often exhibit intense aromas and flavors of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, flowers and minerality. Pinot’s light- to medium- body, characteristic high acidity, and fine-grained tannins make for an extremely food-friendly red wine.
Originally from France’s Northern Rhône region, the Syrah grape is best known for producing red wines evocative of black fruit, leather, licorice and peppery spice. Bottles from the appellations of Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage are capable of developing further complexity over long periods of time. Overall, Syrah wines can differ greatly in style, depending on their growing conditions – from plump, hot-climate versions to more elegant, moderate-climate wines. Australia has had great success with the variety (known there as Shiraz), especially in regions like Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Important plantings can also be found in California’s Central Coast, Washington State, Argentina, Chile, Spain, and South Africa.
As the most significant grape in Italy’s Tuscany region, Sangiovese is responsible for celebrated wines such as Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. High acidity and tannins are hallmarks of Sangiovese, along with flavors of red cherry, blueberry, dried herbs, and earth. Sangiovese is an important component of many “Super Tuscan” wines, often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Although the grape is synonymous with Italian wine, recently, some New World producers have made convincing Sangiovese, particularly in California and Australia.
If Spain were only known for one grape variety, it would be Tempranillo. Though it may be known by different names depending on the region, Tempranillo is the main grape in most red wines from Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Toro. Its best wines are usually full-bodied, tannic, and aged in oak, which imparts hints of vanilla, smoke, and toast to the primary red fruit flavors. Quality Tempranillo is also grown in Portugal, Argentina, and other New World countries.