Traveler's Test

The three basic varieties of red wine

The three basic varieties of red wine

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Discovering the best red wine for you is all about personal taste and preference. Some people prefer the richness of the full-bodied red, while others like easy-drinking airy, light-bodied red wine. Some of us love the sweeter, creamier reds, and others go for the stronger red wines. But if you are new to the wine world, and trying to figure out what kind of red wine to buy, it can be quite an intimidating process.

Even though there are hundreds of red wine variants out there, they can be categorized into three basic groups according to their body type. 

Therefore, in this article, we will break down the three basic variants of red wine and help you choose the best ones based on you.

Once you read this article, get yourself a red wine club membership if you want to taste all these wines.

Light-bodied red wines

Light-bodied red wines are usually made from grapes that are thinner and have lighter skins. The lighter-bodied red wines are lighter in color and contain fewer tannins. These wines tend to have lower alcohol percentages in them. They have an elegant flavor and aroma and are very fresh and light, this is why these wines are often called summer wines. The fresh and light quality allows them to have a more flowery aroma and earthy tones. This range of sweet and savory flavors makes them pair great with lighter dishes like fish or vegetables. Great examples for light-bodied red wines are:

Pinot Noir- A light-bodied dry red wine with high acidity and a very strong aroma. The grape can be grown everywhere from Burgundy to Sonoma to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and in each place, the Pinot Noir tasted a little bit differently. A typical flavor profile for Pinot Noir is a red-fruit-forward taste with earthy and herby notes. The price tag on a good Pinot Noir bottle is a bit higher than some of the other light-bodied wines.

Beaujolais- Beaujolais is a French red wine made with the Gamay grape. It has a red berry flavor and high acidity and usually pairs great with turkey, gravy, squash, cranberry sauce, this is why is typically served around the thanksgiving holidays. The price tag usually falls in the $60 to $70 range.

Lambrusco- This is light and bubbly red wine. Because the grape skins are left on during the production, Lambrusco usually comes in a reddish color anything from a light pink to deep red. It’s an acidic and refreshing red wine. Pairs great with sausage pizza, burgers, and pulled pork.

St. Laurent- This light-bodied red wine generates from Austria. Saint-Laurent wines tend to be dark purple with flavors like berries, cherries, and baking spices. The St. Laurent wine is considered a slightly paunchier version of Pinot Noir. It’s the perfect wine to pair with BBQ or other smoky-sweet flavors.

Medium-bodied red wines

The Medium-bodied red wines are not too light but not too bold, they are just in the middle. Medium-bodied reds have a little bit more tannins than the lighter wines but are still not overly complex with intense flavor. The moderate tannins give the wine a smoother mouth-feel and allow the fruit flavors to shine more. Medium-bodied red wines pair well with most foods to their acidity and tannin. They work best with beef, pork, cured meats, and even chicken. Medium-bodied red wines also tend to age well. These red wines can easily age for three to five years under proper conditions. The most famous medium-bodied red wines are:

Merlot– Merlot is an easy-drinking red wine with soft tannins and a juicy dark fruit flavor. It is the most versatile red wine that usually pairs well with almost any food. It is typically dry with medium acidity and characteristically soft tannins. Classic merlot has notes of cherry and cocoa and can exhibit aromas of herbs and spice. A range of dark fruits like plum, cherry, and blackberry can dominate the Merlots palate.

Cabernet Franc- This black-skinned French grape acts both great as a blender with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon but also makes a great complex wine on its own. Cabernet franc is a medium-bodied red with moderate tannins. The flavor of cabernet franc wines is something between a balance of red fruits, herbs, and peppery earthiness. Cabernet franc has medium-to-high acidity that makes it easy and refreshing.

Zinfandel– The Red Zinfandel wine is a jammy wine, with candied fruit flavor and a spicy tobacco finish. It has mid-range tannins and high acidity. Zinfandel has a lighter color than the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Merlot. Zinfandel wine has a moderate tannin and high acidity that make it taste bold. Most Zinfandel wines have higher alcohol levels that add an oily texture and a bigger, bolder body. Pairs great with sweet-’n-savory dishes, curry, BBQ.

Barbera- Rich and juicy medium-bodied red wine, has a vibrant fruit flavor with notes of strawberry and sour cherry. It has light tannin and high acidity making it taste juicy. Pairs well alongside lamb shanks or mushroom risotto. It is also a very affordable wine with an average price of around 16 dollars.

Full-bodied red wines

Full-bodied red wines have the highest tannins and often the highest alcohol content. Full-bodied red wines are known for their rich mouthfeel and beautiful, complex flavor profiles. Wines like these are best for pairing with rich, substantial foods because they are strong enough to hold on their o to while still letting their flavors shine through. They are usually for the more experienced drinkers or for those who prefer a bolder glass of wine. Some of the popular full-bodied red wines are:

Cabernet Sauvignon-This wine is a natural blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, it is considered one of the best red wines in the world. It is the first-choice wine to accompany steak dinner. Its big body, bold flavors, and mile-long finish can match with any red meat and marinade like none other.

Malbec- Malbec is a dark-fruit-forward wine with a little spicy finish. Malbec grapes are small and dark in color with very thick skins, giving it rich fruity flavors and medium tannin levels. Malbec wines are often higher in alcohol than Merlot or Pinot Noir. Some bottles contain up to 15% ABV. Pairs well with meat, especially red meat, fattier meats, cheese, roasted red pepper.

Shiraz: Shiraz is typically Australian red wine. It has a powerful fruit-and-spice taste with high tannins. Shiraz red wine ages well. Shiraz boasts one of the highest levels of antioxidants. With food, Shiraz has the body to stand up to any intense flavors from a fatty cheeseburger to grilled chicken to a chocolate dessert.

Petite Sirah: It’s not just a petite version of the wine Syrah. It is a very tannic red wine with flavors of blueberries, black pepper, cocoa, and even crushed rocks. Pairs good with any bold but not sweet dish like stuffed peppers.

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