What Should You Consider When Choosing The Perfect Red Wine?
Nov 17, 2023
Red wine is a favourite at this time of year, as it goes particularly well with hearty winter dishes such as roast meat and rich spicy flavours. There are a number of types of red wine, and it can be difficult to know where to start browsing in a wine merchant store if you are not familiar with it.
There are hundreds of different varieties, but to begin with it is useful to start with learning about the different ‘body types.’ This refers to how heavy and rich the wine feels to taste.
Full-bodied reds are the weightest type of red wine, and they often also have the highest tannin content. Tannins are part of a group of chemical compounds known as polyphenols, which occur naturally in grapes and other fruits. They are mostly found in the skins, stems and seeds of grapes, and they are released into the wine during the fermentation process.
The longer the wine is fermented, the higher the tannin content. Red wine has a much higher tannin quantity than white wine because the grapes are usually crushed and pressed when making white wine, removing most of the elements that contain tannins. The tannins add a bitter, astringent taste to the wine, and also bring depth and complexity to the flavours.
Red wines get their colour from being fermented with the grape skins. Full-bodied reds such as Malbec, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Tempranillo have the highest tannin content and are a deeper red in colour. They go particularly well with rich, fatty foods because the fats counteract the astringency and round out the flavour.
Medium-bodied reds are popular because they have some weight but neither are they too bold. They have a moderate amount of tannins, bringing some complexity to the flavour without being too overpowering. Examples include Merlots, which tend to have soft chocolatey and cherry flavours, and Zinfandel, which has a sweet and spicy flavour.
If you are unused to drinking red wine, then light-bodied reds are a great place to start. They are ideal for pairing with foods but also light enough to be drunk without. They tend to be more purple in colour than full-bodied reds. Popular types of lightweight red include Pinot Noir and Beaujolais.
Other factors to consider when choosing red wine
The flavour of the wine is affected by the type of grape used and the region they were grown. For example, cooler climates tend to produce more acidic and fruity flavours, whereas warm climates tend to produce big bold flavours.
How long the wine is aged also impacts on the flavour. Wines that have been aged for a long time tend to absorb subtle nutty flavours from the oak barrels, and have a softer and more velvety texture than younger red wines.