What kind of grapes make all the red wine
types? What are their differences? Is there
a best red wine?
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Typically makes a full-bodied, dry wine and is widely known as one
of the top varieties in the world.
Planted nearly anywhere that red wine grapes
are grown: California, France (Bordeaux
region), Australia, Chile, and more.
One of the more popular red wine types due to its smoothness and
low-level acidity that make it a very drinkable wine.
This grape makes a beautiful stand-alone wine, but it is
often used in blends, particular with the Cabernet grape.
Merlot has long been a key ingredient in
Bordeaux blends, but due to its increasing
popularity it is also now grown in Washington
State, California, Chile, Italy, Australia, and
3. Pinot Noir
Known to be a difficult one to grow, but when conditions are right,
it produces an exceptional light- to mid-body wine with a wonderful
complexity. The characteristics and flavor of Pinot
Regions: Noir varies greatly by the area in which
Grown in Burgundy, New Zealand, Austria, it’s grown, making it difficult to pin a
Oregon, and California. Several California “typical” description on wine made from
wineries use Pinot Noir grapes to make it.
delicious rose-style champagnes.
4. Syrah (called Shiraz in South Africa and Australia)
Known to produce spicy, fruity red wine types that have low to
mid-range acidity, which, like the Merlot, make it a very drinkable
Note: The Petit Syrah grape that grows The best growing regions for the Syrah grape
abundantly in California isn’t related to the are found in the Rhone Valley of France,
Syrah grape. California, South Africa, and Australia.
This grape produces a low- to mid-range acidity, medium to full-
body with fruity, peppery flavors. While it is easily a great stand-
alone wine, it is also considered the most versatile grape.
While the Zinfandel grape is often used in
blends with other grapes, it is not always
Regions: mentioned on the wine label.
The Zinfandel grape is mostly grown
only in California.
Used to produce the famous Chiantis and is Tuscany’s signature
grape. This grape produces a beautiful, complex, mid-body, red
wine with varying aromas and flavors.
Sangiovese is grown in the Tuscany region of
Italy, and while there has not been much
success in growing this grape outside of the
region, recently California has been able to
bottle some good wines from this grape.
Produces a wine whose acidic characteristics vary quite a bit by
the region growing the grape, but it typically has an easy drinking
taste of berries and spice.
The most widely-grown and popular grape of
Argentina, where it thrives on the hot sun. It is
also grown in Chile, Australia, and California,
and to a lesser extent in Bordeaux (where it
was once very popular).
A red wine grape that is responsible for the many fine red wines of
Italy. This grape tends to produce a light and very dry wine with
high acidity, but does well with extensive aging.
Increasing in popularity for creating a good stand-alone wine that
is mid- to full-bodied with fruity flavors, like strawberry. It is also
often blended with other grapes.
Grown in Rhone Valley (France), Spain, and in
California, where it was once commonly used
in rose and red jug wines.
Used in the wines from the Beaujolais region of France. Gamay
wines are light-bodied, fresh, and fruity and are meant to be
drunk soon after they are bottled.
Largely grown in Beaujolais, France. Two
wineries produce Gamay in California, but
some wine connoisseurs don’t regard
them as being “real” Gamay wines as the
quality is not on par with France’s Gamay.
Selecting the right type of wine is decided by your
personal taste, by the type of food you plan to serve
with it, and even by the glasses you plan to serve it in.
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