Choosing a Red Wine Along the Aisle

So, we've examined the wine aisle from the higher quality, higher priced wines on the top shelf to the lower quality, lower priced wines down around your feet, and then looked down the aisle at the white wines.  Now lets look at the red wines.  These can be can be a bit more difficult as you are getting started. Red wines can range from sweet, to light and fruity, and to big and bold with earthy flavors. 

The sweeter red wines are most often found in the bulk wines. Don't be afraid to try these out. You may find large jugs of red wine or boxes of wine.  This may be the place start if you prefer white wines that are slightly sweet.

On the fruity side, there are wonderful wines with flavors of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and blackberry.  Now these aren't going to taste like a berry soda, the flavors in wines are much more subtle. But as you explore these you'll start to be able to distinguish the flavors.  Fruity red wines include Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Barbera.  Another aspect of red wines that you may immediately experience is that they make your mouth feel dry.  This is the tannin in the wine that results from the grape skins and stems.  This dry-mouth sensation is similar to what you might experience when drinking a strong cup of tea.  So, start with some of the softer, less tannic, reds like Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. Then, work your way into Merlot and finally to Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre.

Then there are the herbal, earthy red wines. These have description of having flavors of black pepper, clay, forest, smoke, leather and even tobacco.  Again, these flavors are more subtle than they sound.  These herbal reds include many of the wines from France and Italy and include Chianti, Beaujolais, Barolo, Barbaresco, Montepulciano, Cotes du Rhone, Saint-Emilio and the Rhone wines.  These too can range from soft to tannic. On the soft, or less tannic side, are Cotes du Rhone, Saint-Emilio and the Rhone wines. The higher tannic reds include Barbaresco, Chianti, Barolo and Medoc. 

So confidently take a step forward and choose a bottle of red wine. You are sure to pick one full of flavor that can either be enjoyed by itself or with food.  And continue to enjoy your wine journey. Cheers!