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Basics of Red Wines


In our wine fundamentals part 1, we cover the flavor profiles and areas of the most common red wine grapes.


Cabernet Franc

Flavors: Violets, blueberry, planet, black olive, coffee
In addition to cabernet sauvignon as well as merlot, cabernet franc is part of the necessary blending triad that composes most the Bordeaux mix (as well as Meritage) wines produced in the United States. By itself, Cabernet Franc is a more tannic, natural coz to cabernet sauvignon. In warmer sites outside of Europe, its most distinct attributes are its pure notes of violets and also blueberry, as well as its ripe tannins typically lug the aroma of fresh roasted coffee. It is made (though hardly ever identified) as a varietal in Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, where it is hard and also tannic and could stimulate an austere minerality. In Pomerol and St-Emilion it is showcased in blends with merlot, including a spicy, poignant, occasionally minty note.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavors: Bell pepper, eco-friendly olive, natural herb, cassis, black cherry
The main component of fantastic Bordeaux as well as the specifying grape of the Napa valley, cabernet sauvignon is grown all over the world, however seldom accomplishes success. It ripens late and also could very slim or even vegetal in cooler climate areas such as Chile. In Bordeaux as well as Tuscany it is usually blended to relax its intensely astringent tannins. The Napa style is dense, purple-black, jammy as well as sampling of currants and also black cherries. Thick and also ripe, layered with expensive brand-new oak aromas and flavors, it has almost solitarily produced the sensation of the cult vineyards. In Washington, the very best cabernet straddles the border between the perfection of America versions and also the nuanced natural herb, fallen leave, and also olive tastes of fantastic Bordeaux.


Flavors: Strawberry, raspberry, cherry
The grape of Beaujolais, Gamay is frequently made to be drunk quite young, as well as reveals bright, appetizing, fruit-driven tastes of strawberry, raspberry, and pleasant cherries. When made by the approach referred to as carbonic emaciation, young gamay has a slight effervescence and also a distinctive smell of bananas. Beaujolais Nouveau, released yearly shortly after produce, is one of the most famous example.


Tastes: Spice, cherry
Aged creeping plant Grenache makes a few of the greatest wines of both Spain as well as Australia, and also is a vital element of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Cotes-du-Rhone in France. An early-ripening grape, it tends toward high alcoholic beverages and also low level of acidity. At its ideal it produces very fruity, fiery, bold-flavored wines somewhat reminiscent of a softer, less-intense model of Syrah.


Tastes: Sour cherry, spice
Among the minimal blending grapes of Bordeaux, Malbec has risen to importance in Argentina, where it makes spicy, sharp wines that take well to maturing in brand-new oak barrels. Elsewhere it continues to be a small player, though a couple of varietally-labeled Malbecs are made in California as well as Washington.

Red wine

Flavors: Melon, strawberry, cherry, plum
Merlot is the chardonnay of reds, simple to pronounce, easy to like, reasonable, as well as versatile, yet primarily lacking any sort of substantive personality of its very own. The fantastic exemption is Chateau Patrus, where it consists of 95 percent of the mix. Different red wine rose to appeal in the 1990s yet a lot of insipid, watery, over-priced merlots have taken the bloom off the rose. Beyond Bordeaux, it goes to its very best in Washington State, where it ripens wonderfully and produces plump, effective wines that can mature for a decade or more.

Mourvedre/ Mataro

Tastes: Spice, cherry
This Mediterranean red grape is specifically preferred in France and Spain, making medium-bodied, lightly hot wines with quite, cherry-flavored fruit. The best sites likewise use a distinctive, gravelly minerality to the fruit. Some old vine growings of Mourvedre stay in the golden state and in Australia, where it is generally included in a mix with shiraz and grenache.


Tastes: Plum, pie cherry, tar.
The principal grape of Barolo, Barbaresco, as well as Gattinara (all made in the Piedmont area of Italy), Nebbiolo undoubtedly belongs with the fantastic merlots of the globe, but has confirmed nearly difficult to expand anywhere else. California models, in spite of years of effort, remain light, slim and also universal.

Pinot Noir

Tastes: Tomato leaf, beet root, pale cherry, blackberry, soda pop, plum.
Pinot noir is the grape that winemakers enjoy to dislike; it is the prettiest, sexiest, most requiring, as well as the very least predictable of all. The design template for fantastic pinot noir is Wine red, however even there the grape is flighty, delicate, as well as susceptible to obstinately slim flavors. It is a primary component of many different Sparkling wines and also various other sparkling wines, but can likewise be ripened to generate wines of unusual density and even jammyness in America, New Zealand, as well as cozy websites in Oregon. Pinot noir is best revealed as a pure varietal, and is usually showcased as a single-vineyard wine in Oregon and California, emulating the hundreds of tiny appellations of Wine red. When at its ideal, pinot has an angelic delicacy yet can age for decades; it is most memorably described as “the iron fist in the velvet glove.”


Tastes: Pie cherry, anise, tobacco fallen leave.
The primary grape of Tuscany, where it is the key component of Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese is relatively light in color as well as rather strongly acidic. In Italy it reveals distinctive tastes of pie cherry, anise, and also tobacco; somewhere else it can be rather ordinary and undistinguished, though some encouraging bottles have actually come from Washington’s Walla Walla valley. Several of Italy’s “Super Tuscan” (view Glossary) red blends marry sangiovese to cabernet sauvignon, a combo that both boosts the sangiovese and also smoothes out the cabernet.



Flavors: Blackberry, boysenberry, plum, pepper, clove
Growings of Syrah have exploded in The golden state and Washington, where sappy, spicy, peppery, delicious variations are being made. Referred to as shiraz in Australia, it is unarguably that nation’s case to enological fame. Australian shiraz is made in every imaginable style, from light as well as fruity to dense and also tarry; it is made as a deep red, tannic sparkling wine, and as a strengthened “Port”. In the northern Rhone, one of the most remarkable expressions of the grape are made, specifically in Hermitage and Cote Ratie, where its peppery, thick, spicy fruit is layered into unbelievably complex wines streaked with mineral, smoked meat, tar, untamed herb, as well as leather.


Flavors: Raspberry, blackberry, black cherry, raisin, prune
For decades zinfandel was America’s grape, though now it is increased across the west shore of the United States, in Australia, Italy, and somewhere else, and also its ancestry has been mapped to Croatia. But California zinfandel continues to be the version for all others, and also it increases well as well as vinifies distinctly all over the state. Mendocino makes rather rustic models with hints of Asian flavors; Dry Creek zinfandels are racy as well as laden with raspberry. In Amador and Gold Rush country it is warm, thick, as well as jammy, while in Napa it is plush with ripe, wonderful black cherry flavors. California zinfandels now typically get to 15 or 16 percent liquor degrees; in some cases even higher for late harvest versions. Zinfandel “Ports” are additionally made.