Which red wines are most commonly a little spicy or peppery?
The olfactory sensation of a wine is made up of many different aromas, chemical compounds spontaneously present in the grapes or that can develop naturally during fermentation and maturation.
In young red wines fruity characters are more relevant. More complex notes, called tertiary aromas, can appear during ageing, regardless of whether it is in a barrel or in a bottle.
The passage in wood can intervene with a double mechanism; indirect, because it induces oxidative transformations, or direct, by conferring aromatic components to the wine.
The fruity scents are then transformed and give way to new aromatic notes that are fundamental to the complexity and richness of a wine.
Today we will specifically look at some of those tertiary aromas, the spicy ones.
What wines are spicy?
Sweet like those of vanilla and cinnamon, or pungent like those of cloves and black pepper, the spicy scents are among the most frequent in the bouquet of an evolved red wine.
And, besides the effect of the passage in wood and more generally of the maturation, some vines have in their DNA a spicy backbone, like for example the Syrah, which, especially in Côte du Rhône, expresses distinctive notes of black pepper.
So, spicy wines enthusiasts: today is your day. Let’s have a look at the most peculiar among these wines.
The most typical example of spicy red, defined by fruity notes of black currant, raspberry, blackberry and violet, that can develop into pepper, tobacco, musk, truffle, liquorice, clove and cinnamon.
This wine is the perfect combination for grilled meat, mushrooms dishes, game, lamb and smoked and herb cheeses. Best examples come from Rhone Valley or Barossa in Australia.
Blackcurrant, blackberry, very ripe cherry, crushed strawberries, laurel, eucalyptus and liquorice are the typical olfactory notes for these wines when young. But, with age, these fresh aromas are overpowered by notes of tobacco, cooked apricots and spices.
The most famous Grenache-based wine (but not only) is the French Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but this variety is widely cultivated throughout the southern part of France, in Spain, especially in Aragon and Rioja, and in Sardinia, Italy.
You can find Grenache on the shop shelves also named Garnacha.
The best wines produced with Malbec come from the French region of Cahors and from Mendoza in Argentina.
Characterized by a magnificent, dense and very dark ruby colour, these wines show an intense olfactory system, centred on black fruits and notes of mixed pungent spices. A well-known match for elaborate meat preparations.
One of our favorite choices for a good steak – Malbec from Argentina
With a typical olfactory range of great impact, the nose of Zinfandel is an explosion of fruity scents of cherry and plum that develop towards spicy sensations and touches of violets with ageing.
Bold and generous examples come from California and Puglia, in Southern Italy, where it is known as Primitivo.
A native Italian variety from the Colli Orientali del Friuli in the North East of the peninsula, used in the production of wines with a very strong personality, characterised by spicy fragrances and with a special hint of white pepper.
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