Find Your Perfect Match With The Best Red Wine Options
McKenzie Hagan | May 14, 2020
Discovering the best red wine is all about tastes. Some people like it sweet and others like it dry. Some prefer the richness of full-bodied red while others find themselves coming back to the easy drinking of an airy, light-bodied red. The red wine your best friend falls head over heels for might not necessarily be your jam. Each wine is unique with its own tasting notes and aromas to draw in your senses.
There are hundreds of tasting notes for every taste bud. From almonds and berry fruits to cherry-like and velvety, theres a red wine out there for you. Here, well break down the best red wine options and help you choose the ones youll like most based on your preferences.
Can You Use Sweet Red Wine For Cooking
Most good-quality wines work for cooking, but there are some things to avoid. Sweet wine may be called for in specific dishes but wont suit the vast majority of recipes. Cooking wine concentrates its sugars, making reds jammy and off-dry whites taste syrupy and imbalanced.
Sweet Red Wine Categories
The most famous sweet red wines fall into the dessert wine category. You’ll want to look in that section while shopping. You can look for wine labels that fall into a few categories:
- Germany’s Dornfelder grape is often made into a lighter-styled, slightly sweet version. While it is not overly exported, it can certainly be found in U.S. markets. It is worth a try if you are searching for a sweeter style of red wine.
- Italy’s Lambrusco is a slightly sweet, slightly sparkling, and inexpensive red wine that has wooed wine lovers the world over for years. It is intended to be consumed young and is readily available in most markets.
- In Australia, sweet red wines are appropriately dubbed “stickies.” These can use a range of grapes and many producers have built them into their success stories.
- The fortified wine known as port will also do its best to fill a sweet tooth’s expectations.
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Food Pairings Are Fun And Functional
There are some time-tested assumptions out there on how to pair your best wine with food. Some are helpful. Some arent. Here are the best to run with in our opinion. One preliminary rule to pay homage to: Go with what you like. Take a cue from famed Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot producer Gary Pisoni. When asked Whats your favorite wine?, hes fond of saying: The one in my glass.
We took Ian Consolis advice on what to pair with local Morro Bay oysters from west of the vineyard, and the Tablas Creek Vermentino, with its fresh and citric spark, was a wise call.
Chicken, pork, veal, duck, cured meat, Thai, Indian: Pinot, Pinot Gris, Zinfandel, Grenache, Carignon, red blends
Lobster, crab, shrimp, cream sauces: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc
How To Choose Red Wine
By | Submitted On March 01, 2009
Nothing accompanies a meal and soothes the senses better than a good bottle of red wine. Besides the distinctive taste this beverage brings to any occasion, there are actually health benefits from drinking red wine. According to the American Journal of Nutrition, red wine actually provides antioxidants to the body, and reduces the harmful effects of bad cholesterol in the cardiovascular system.
Given these perks you get from red wine, how do you choose the right kind? The answer actually depends on what you are in the mood for, and what types of food will pair well with the wine. The most common types of reds that are found in most stores are Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir. There are other specialty red wines from various parts of the world.
Shiraz, which comes from Australia, has a tannic and fruity flavor, making it perfect for pairing with grilled foods such as shrimp and barbecued meats. You can also have this wine at cool room temperature and serve it with Tex-Mex dishes like chili. Merlot, on the one hand, is a bit sweet and has a smooth finish. You can sip this type of red wine along with some pasta, salad, dark chocolate desserts, poultry, or red meat. Foods that can pair with the bold flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon are strong cheeses, chicken, spicy beef, and sausages. Lastly, if you have Pinot Noir, you might want to serve this light and fruity wine alongside turkey, chicken, or duck.
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What Is The Best Sweet Red Wine
- Best Overall: Dal Forno Romano Vigna Seré Veneto Passito Rosso.
- Best Under $20: Tobin James Zinfandel Late Harvest.
- Best Organic: Philip Togni Ca Togni Sweet Red.
- Best Splurge: Bodkin The Crown Jewels Red Dessert Wine.
- Best Italian: Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto.
- Best German: Gerd Anselmann Pfalz Dornfelder.
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2) Layer Cake’s 2013 Central Coast Chardonnay $16 “Classic varietal expression with ripe apple and honeydew melon flavors.”
3) Bodegas Ramón Bilbao’s 2011 Garnacha Rioja $20 “Rich berries, chocolate, and spices PLUS great structure and style? This a go-to big red.”
4) Charles & Charles’ 2013 Columbia Valley Post No.35 Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah $11.99 “Lush berry and plum notes are guided through by easy tannins and a confident finish.”
5) Ameztoi Rubentis’ 2014 Txakolina Rosé $21 “Full of strawberry and watermelon juiciness, while remaining dry and fresh on the palate. A perfect springtime-in-the-park or summertime-by-the-beach wine.”
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The Basics Of Good Wine
Choosing a good wine is completely subjective. How each person defines a good wine is unique to them and their taste buds. Whether you prefer delicate, bold, sweet, tart or even spicy flavors, it is possible to find a wine you adore. These essential characteristics that define each variety of wine can be helpful to keep in mind as you navigate picking a bottle.
Everyone will have different preferences for each of these characteristics of wine, but with the right care, you can find a bottle that fulfills your taste preferences.
For The Novice Pretending They Know What They’re Talking About
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I have recently become infatuated with red wine, which is not uncommon as you get older. But as you start dipping your toe into the world of red wine, you realize there are more differences in wines beyond the colors red and white.
We’re all aware that red wine has health benefits, and there are some cool hacks that you can use with leftover wine . But what are the differences between them? How do you know which one to choose? What do you pair it with? Choosing red wine can be a daunting task if you’re not well versed in the countless types, but I am here to help with the basics.
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How To Choose The Right Glass For Red Wine
This is a bit tricky but in general, you need to go for larger glasses. If you are going to enjoy bold red wines, then you can prefer large Bordeaux glasses. If you are going to prefer medium or full-bodied red wines, then your choice should be standard red wine glasses. On the other hand, you need to prefer Bourgogne glasses for light red wines.
What Not To Buy
Walking into any wine store to pick up gifts without a firm plan in mind can be an overwhelming experience. A sea of confusing labels all compete for your attention in a cacophony of choice. Therefore we will start by reducing the seemingly endless array of options through the process of elimination.
Unless you are very sure that the gift recipient likes any of the following styles or the person is exceptionally well-versed in the subject of wine is open to trying all kinds of obscure styles, it is advised that you avoid gifting the following wines. Wine is a highly personal beverage, and although you may be temped to want to introduce someone to something unique or unusual, few people are truly super adventurous when it comes to their wine taste preference. Your well intentioned and gift may be re-gifted, returned -or worst of all: opened and not enjoyed, causing the rest of the bottle to be wastefully dumped out! Best gift-giving practice when you are unsure is to play it on the safe side.
The following may all be good wines, but they tend to be too specific or niche to go with when you are flying in the dark and trying to pick something to give as a gift from the vast world of wine.
Wines to avoid giving as gifts:
- Wine packaged in specialty bottles such as tree ornaments or animal shapes – the look may be fun but wine inside is usually the lowest possible quality.
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Understanding Red Wine: How To Decide If Cabernet Sauvignon Pinot Noir Malbec Or Syrah Is Your Preferred Style
Learn how to choose a red you’ll enjoy.
Delicate and elegant or rich and robust, there’s a red wine out there for every lover of the glorious grape. Where to start? Try one of these four very different reds: cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, malbec, and syrah. Here’s what to know to get started plus how to pair them with food-and some sommelier favorites.
It’s important to note that red wine grape varieties aren’t all created equal: They are as different from each other as granny smith, golden delicious, and McIntosh apples. Each unique grape variety creates a completely different wine in terms of aroma, texture, flavor profile, and body. With that said, grape varieties themselves are only one aspect of the finished wine. Other factors that influence the final result are the climate and soil types in which the grapes are grown, as well as the type of barrel the wine is aged in and the length of time the wine is aged before it’s released. It’s fun to try different examples of a certain grape to see if there’s a certain growing region or winemaking style that you prefer.
Here’s some basic information to inform your red wine drinking.
How To Recycle Wine Bottles
Glass bottles can usually go in your household recycling bin. If your council doesnt accept them, you can take them to a local bottle bank. Make sure to empty out all the liquid, give the bottle a quick rinse and put the lid back on to reduce the chance of it getting lost during the sorting process.
Synthetic corks, which are made of plastic, cant be recycled or composted. They should be disposed of in your general waste bin.
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How To Pick Out Wine For Dinner
The tips above will provide a great start to establishing your taste in good wine. However, sometimes you arent looking for how to choose good wine, but rather how to pick the right wine for a particular meal. A great wine may not always shine in tandem with the wrong food. When it comes to wine pairing, you can revisit the basic characteristics of wine sweetness, acidity, tannin, body and alcohol and apply them to pairing.
The overall goal of choosing wine for dinner is to find a wine that either complements or contrasts the flavors. A good wine pairing will give you a more complex burst of flavor from your dining and drinking experience. Here are a few general guidelines for the best wine and food pairings.
1. Acidic food needs an acidic wine.
If you choose wine with low acidity to pair with a meal that has higher acidity, such as meals with citrus or fish, youre sure to be disappointed. The acidity in the food will overpower the wine, leaving your taste buds with much to be desired. In this case, its best to find a higher-acidity wine to match your meal.
2. Salty food is the perfect partner for sweet wine.
The combination of salty and sweet is a classic that carries into the wine-pairing world, too. A sweet wine can help cut the saltiness of a dish, while also highlighting the pleasant sweetness of the wine.
3. Fatty foods work best withbitter, highly acidic or higher ABV wines.
4. Foods and wines from the same region can make great pairings.
Excellent Reds Under $20
- Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel: This spicy California Zin comes from one of the state’s top Zinfandel producers. Consistently good, the 2010 received a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator and 93 points from Wine Enthusiast.
- Evodia Old Vines Grenache: Smoky and juicy, this Spanish Grenache is a popular choice for under $10. The 2010 vintage got a 90 point rating from Wine Enthusiast.
- La Carraia Sangiovese Umbria: This wine is a rich and lush, with flavors of dark cherries. It consistently gets upper 80s and lower 90s ratings from Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate. He rated the 2009 vintage 90 points.
- Black Box Merlot: These are widely recognized as some of the higher quality boxed wine offerings. Black Box Merlot has nice plum and berry flavors with very soft tannins. Along with being very affordable, Black Box received the Top 100 Best Buy Award from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2008. It was ranked #12 of 100.
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M& s Classics Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
£8 for a 75cl bottle, vegan and vegetarian
‘Smooth and intensely fruity, with flavours of plum and red ripe berries’, according to M& S. Log in or join Which? to find out how this M& S red from Chile’s Central Valley ranks in our winter line-up.
Want to buy without reading our results? This wine is available at M& S
Second Best Choice: White Wine
Although a very slightly less popular overall option, white wine has the intrinsic benefit of pairing perfectly with holiday meats such as turkey, goose, ham, and the traditional Christmas Eve seafood buffet. It is also served cold and is definitely more thirst-quenching and “quaffable” than red wine, making it a great choice for warming up the party. Your gift recipient will appreciate you saving them a trip to the bottle shop for a special holiday dinner wine or entertaining wine.
Safe white wine suggestions:
- Off-dry Riesling: One of the most food-friendly and refreshing of all grape varieties, Riesling produces great wine in almost all climates, just make sure that it isn’t excessively sweet.
- Pinot Gris: Pinot Grigio’s sophisticated older sister. Similar flavours as the notorious crowd-pleaser younger sibling but usually with considerably more elegance, depth, and complexity.
- Unoaked Chardonnay: Avoid overly oaked styles of Chardonnay as they tend to overwhelm delicate food flavours and definitely are not for everyone. Unoaked versions keep the lovely lush fruit and mineral character that make this grape magical without all the woody, buttery notes that some people can’t deal with.
Dry Riesling and Pinot Gris are both solid options for wine gifting.
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Look For Bottles That Will Give You The Most Bang For Your Buck
There many great wine options out there when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck. Part of this skill comes from knowing retail pricing and/or restaurant pricing for certain wines. For example, I have been to some nice restaurants that sell Rombauer chardonnay for $60 a bottle, while others sell it for $90 a bottle. At $60 a bottle I will order Rombauer all night! If you know the wine prices at your local store, you can get a feel for what the markups may be.
Using Rombauer chardonnay again, at my local store it is generally $32-$36 a bottle. If a restaurant sells it for $90 a bottle, there is a good chance many of their wines will be overpriced. If this is the case, your best bet is to go for the famous second cheapest wine. However, if you see it at $60/bottle, even if you dont want the Rombauer, there is a good chance there aresome great deals on wine at the restaurant.
Overall, your best bet is to get away from big name wine regions. Try a pinot noir from Oregon, or a Malbec from Chile. If you are buying a California wine, look for a wine from a less recognized region of the state . These regions are making some good wines without the brand name prices of Napa or Sonoma.
Flavors: Violets Blueberry Earth Black Olive Coffee
Along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Cabernet Franc is part of the essential blending triad that makes up the majority of the Bordeaux blend red wines produced in the United States. On its own, Cabernet Franc is a more tannic, earthy cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon. In warmer sites outside of Europe, its most distinctive attributes are its pure notes of violets and blueberry, and its ripe tannins often carry the scent of fresh roasted coffee. It is made as a varietal in Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, where it is hard and tannic and can evoke an austere minerality. In Pomerol and Saint-Émilion it is featured in blends with Merlot, adding a spicy, pungent, sometimes minty note.
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Red Wines To Explore Taste
These wines were selected for three reasons: they are bolder on the flavor intensity spectrum, they have easy-to-identify fruit flavors, and they can be found for less than $18.
Why Varietal Wines Are Better for Learning
In the US, wineries can blend up to 25% of another grape variety into the wine. So if it says Cabernet Sauvignon, it can contain 25% other grapes in it . This doesnt just happen with Cab, it happens with other wines too. For example in California, Syrah is sometimes added to Pinot Noir for added color and richness.