Types of Red Wine

Discover the Flavors, Aromas and Varieties of Reds

Discover the most popular types of red wine, information on dry red wine types, and definitions of wine types including Cabernet wines, Pinot wine and much, much more.

Did you know there are hundreds of red wine types? This includes both the varieties and the clones of each variety. This is a lot to remember!

The good news is that much of the industry focuses on the top 50 or so. You will also see the common name used on labeling -- such as Cabernet Sauvignon -- vs the name of any of its clones.

types of red wine

Red wines are known for their red and black fruity flavors. It depends on the variety you choose, but red wine has hints of cherry, strawberry or blackberry. Spicy flavors such as black pepper or cinnamon, earthy flavors such as leaves or minerals and herbal flavors such as rosemary or grass are also common.

Every one of the types of red wine has a slightly different combination and intensity of flavor.


Most Popular Types of Red Wine

Cabernet Sauvignon

cabernet sauvignon wineOne of the most recognizable types of red wine is Cabernet Sauvignon. For many years, it was considered the best red wine in the world.

This is still true in many regions such as Bordeaux in France and Napa Valley in California. However, other red wines -- especially Merlot -- are gaining in popularity.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a big and bold wine. It is high in tannins, but aging them in oak softens them out a little.

More: Cabernet Sauvignon


Merlot

merlot winePeople seem to have a love - hate relationship with Merlot. Up until recently, I really could not understand why it was so popular. With some hard work -- um, tasting -- I was finally able to find quite a few wonderful Merlot wines.

The root of this issue came from a supply shortage in the 1980s. Many producers had to increase their supply quickly, which decreased the overall quality of this one. This created a low perception of the wine, which continued until just a few years ago.

Learn More: Merlot


Pinot Noir

pinot noir winePinot Noir is a light, sophisticated wine that is one of my favorites. It is one of the hardest types of red wine to grow, so finding one at a decent price can be a challenge.

Cooler climate areas such as Russian River Valley in California and Burgundy in France are the perfect places to grow this one. California's version of it is a little more fruit forward than its French counterpart.

Learn More: Pinot Noiricon


Syrah and Shiraz

syrah wineThe relationship between Syrah and Shiraz can be confusing. Both are from the same grape.

The difference is in how the grape is then turned into wine. Just by altering the production method, you will see and taste a big difference between these two red wine types.

Learn More: Syrah and Shiraz


Other Types of Red Wine You Should Try

Barbera

barbera wine redBarbera is a light, smooth red wine. You will find it primarily grown in Italy's Piedmont region. It is low in tannins, but high acidity. This makes it the perfect complement to Italian dishes with tomato sauce.

Barbera has a troubled past, but is starting to become popular once again. Read on to learn more.

Learn More: Barbera


Cabernet Franc

cabernet francUntil recently, it was rare to find a single varietal Cabernet Franc. Producers primarily used it as a blending grape to soften out Cabernet Sauvignon or to provide some support to Merlot.

Today, you will find more and more regions mastering this grape to make smooth, fruity reds.

Learn More: Cabernet Franc


Gamay

gamay wineGamay is a very fruit forward wine that is almost always associated with the Beaujolais region in France. Gamay wines range from nice light every day wines all the way to fuller bodied wines that pair well with meals. Find out more about this very affordable and versatile red wine type.

Learn More: Gamay


Grenache

grenache wineGrenache is a new discovery for me and not as well known as many other reds. The irony is that it is one of the most planted red wines in the world.

Similar to Cabernet Franc, producers primarily used this in blends until recently. Up and coming regions, such as the Languedoc in France, are making some great and affordable wines from Grenache grapes.

Learn More: Grenache


Malbec

malbec wineMany people associate Malbec with Argentina. However, its origins are in Bordeaux in France and it is one of the five main reds used in the famous Bordeaux blend. Throughout the years, France faced many challenges with this grape and many replaced their Malbec vines with other reds.

In the last few decades, Argentina adopted it as their primary red. The conditions in Argentina are better suited for this variety, so it thrives there.

Learn More: Malbec


Sangiovese

sangiovese wine redIf you are familiar with Chianti, then you have tried Sangiovese. Italy names many of their wines by the region, which is why the name Chianti is more recognized than Sangiovese.

The acidity of this type of red wine is high. This makes it a great match with Italian foods, specifically those with some spices or red sauce.

Learn More: Sangiovese


Tempranillo

tempranillo wineFruity, yet spicy is how you would describe Tempranillo. This Spanish native loves the heat, but also the cool nights at high altitude.

Rioja in Spain is the most popular region for this one. However, there are two other regions in Spain that are also producing some amazing reds from Tempranillo grapes.

Learn More: Tempranillo


Zinfandel

zinfandel red wineZinfandel is another one of my favorites. It is considered by some as more of a regional one since it is grown widely in only a few key regions in the world. It is another one of the most challenging types of red wine to grow.

Dry Creek Valley and Rockpile in Sonoma County California are two of the most popular regions for Zinfandel. Both have moderate climates with vineyards at an altitude that is perfect for this finicky red.

Learn More: Zinfandel


 

wine book coverDo you want to learn even more about wines? The Only Wine Book You'll Ever Need is a great book for both novices and those that already know a little about it.

It covers everything from the most important types of red wine to tips on finding the right bottle for that special occasion. It also includes topics on serving and ordering wines.

This is a great companion book for anyone buying wine for themselves or wanting to fit into a wine social event. It covers all the basics and allows you to be at ease in any wine situation.

Read on to learn more about The Only Wine Book You'll Ever Need and other great books on reds.


Different Types of Reds

different types of red wineIn addition to the more common types of red wine listed above -- there are a few others that are not as well know. Discover Nebbiolo, one of the most popular red wines in Italy.

Here you will also learn more about Carmenere - popular in Chile - and Mourvedre - a spicy, Spanish red.

Learn More: Different Types


Buying Online

The best place to find a wide variety of reds is online. Not only do online retailers have a great selection of the different types of red wine, it is also easier to find some deals.

When buying online, try to find a red wine that is highly rated, but still affordable. This is a great way to try some new reds without spending too much on each bottle of wine.

There are two ways to find the great deals. I recommend checking out Wine.com's 90+ rated wines under $20 and their 'great deals' sections. Both of these will give you a good selection of wines, but allow you to buy more than one bottle so you can sample a wider selection of the different types of red wines.

90+ Rated Wines

These are wines tasted and judged by highly qualified organizations. You can find many in the 90 to 91 range under $20 because the cost to make certain wines is lower than others. The other reason some are still under $20 is that it might be from a region that is not as well know. Review the list of 90+ rated reds under $20. icon

Great Deals

The great deals section is another place to pick up some great wines. Again, I usually look at the highly rated wines and review the savings on each one. Just because one is marked down, does not mean it is low quality. Online retailers do this frequently to make room for new vintages coming out soon.

To find a good value, use some of the information above about each one to find the top regions. This way, you know you are going to get a decent bottle at a great price. Find great deals iconon red wine online today!


Types of Red Wine: Organic

organic wineRecently, organic has also gained in popularity. These are produced using no fertilizers or other chemicals during the growing process.

There are a lot of great options on the market today. This section talks a little more about how organic wine is made and marketed.

Learn More: Organic


Old World vs New World

Is there really a difference between the two? Are old world wines better than new world wines? Find the answers to these questions and more in this article.

At the end of the article, you can also learn more about how to set up a tasting to compare them for yourself.


Ordering in a Restaurant: Do you struggle when you receive the wine list in a restaurant? Read on to find some of the best tips on how to order in a restaurant. On this page, you will learn about how the menu is organized, how to find the right one and what to do when the waiter brings the bottle to the table.

Tasting Etiquette: Follow this step by step process and you will be tasting the different types of red wine like a pro in no time. In addition to the process, you will find some other things to keep in mind while still getting the most out of your tasting experience.

Tasting Party Ideas: Are you interested in hosting your own tasting party? If so, read on for ideas on setting up your party, how to create a budget and how to ensure you have enough for all your guests. You will also find recommendations for tasting party invitations and pairing food with the different types of red wine.

> Types of Red Wine

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Find the latest information on red wine antioxidants on Antioxidant Buzz. This is a great site with quite a bit of information on reds and antioxidants.

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