Red wine for beginners: how to choose the right bottle?
Are you a shy and insecure red wine drinker? Would you like to understand a bit more about the ampelographic complexity of red wines in order to better choose your next bottle?
You are in the right place. Today’s post will give you some introductory hints on some of the major international red grape varieties with the aim of providing some basic knowledge that should help you with your choice next time you’ll be wandering along the shelves of a wine shop.
This is an eclectic red grape, cultivated all over the world, that can produce the great excellence and longevity of the red Burgundy and the fruit complexity and richness of the New World wines but it will always surprise you with amazing finesse and gentle acidity.
Buy Pinot Noir from California if you are looking for a delicate balance of richness and silkiness; from New Zealand if you love lush fruity flavours of wild strawberries and a charming texture and from Burgundy if you are looking for ethereal complexity and an amazing ageing potential.
Forget the prejudices against what is often considered a “palate pleaser” grape; Merlot wines are dense with fragrant red and dark fruits as well as herbaceous notes. In the mouth they are juicy and sometimes even jammy, gracefully tannic with a warm, full body.
Merlot from the cool climate regions like France, Italy or Chili has more structure and tannins. Those from hot climate like California, are more fruity and have less tannins.
Buy it if you love the ripeness of red fruit paired with a round and soft mouth.
Intense and full bodied with great aromatic depth and a vibrant taste, rich in tannins of exceptional elegance, often used in combination with Merlot that can add softness to it. The scent is dominated by small black berries, cassis in particular, and is framed by the paradigmatic vegetal touch of green pepper. Look for Cabernet Sauvignon from France and California to try some of the most savoury examples.
Buy it if you like your wine full, deep and strong.
A red wine that is fun, juicy, fresh with a medium body and a lively acidity.
The young Barberas have typical scents of small red and black fruits, and delicate violet notes, but the aged versions can show more complex and spicy aromas. Most of Barbera comes from Italy, however the US is the second biggest producer after Italy.
Buy it for a dinner with friends and lasagne.
This red grape produces wines rich in alcohol but with a low acidity; juicy but not sweet wines that taste of red, fleshy rose, have delicate tannins, and therefore a pleasant roundness, a beautiful aromatic intensity (very ripe dark fruit and plums), but above all a beautiful structure with a great potential for ageing.
Buy it if you like red wines with Mediterranean aromas.
Dense and very dark colored red wines, with quite a strong tannic structure and a great body. The fruity aromas of black and red fruits, ripe cherry, anise and violets that characterize the youthful wines, normally evolve into spicy notes of cinnamon and vanilla. Malbec from Argentina, Mendoza region is a our must try wine.
Buy it if you are into big wines that go well with a big juicy steak.
Another Italian grape that can produce a wide choice of wines, from light and young Chiantis to full bodied and intense Brunellos. No matter the style or the producer it will always be a food wine. I love having a glass of Sangiovese with hard Italian cheese, absolutely fabulous! For more ideas ask Wine Picker, a free food and wine pairing app.
Buy it if you want to taste an interesting balance of rustic flavours and harmonious tannins.