Chteau Lafite Rothschild ‘carruades De Lafite’ 2012
Château Lafite Rothschild wine estate is a vineyard that produces some of the most in-demand red wines.
The 2012 vintage includes four grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, with an elegant Bordeaux style dry taste that leaves you wanting more.
The 2012 Carruades de Lafite has a dark purple hue and has aromas of cedarwood and blackcurrants. The wine is medium-bodied, making it perfect for pairing with grilled meats or fish dishes.
King Estate Temperance Hill Pinot Noir 2016
King Estate is known for some of the south Willamette Valley’s best wines, and though this winery offers a wider selection of varietals than most in the area, you can never go wrong with a solid pinot noir . The 2016 Temperance Hill is a special bottling for King Estate in that its eponymous vineyard site first became available during this vintage after being coveted for years by the team of winemakers sitting at higher elevation than the majority of King’s other vineyard blocks, Temperance Hill has been sustainably farmed since 1999 and yields stunningly complex, earthy wines, as shown by this 2016 pinot noir. Think: notes of truffle, wet forest floor, coffee, violet, rose petal, blueberry, and cocoa with bright, balancing acidity and gentle yet firm tannins.
To buy: $70, kingestate.com
Early Mountain Eluvium 2017
When we are on the other side of this national health crisis, go to Virginia. Stay in the beautiful Shenandoah, tucked into the Blue Mountains. Hike and paddle during the day, eat venison and local cheeses as the sun sets, and sip some of the most exciting wine in the country. Wines from these hills are bright and balanced, even when brooding. This wine defines that. Dark, supple fruit, with high acidity and satisfying tannins, make for a unique American wine experience.
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Finding Your Sweet Spot
Just because a wine is vintage or well-aged, doesnt mean you have to enjoy it. Ageing aromas are an acquired taste, much like truffles or mature cheeses. For those new to wine tasting, its good to vary your options and get adventurous with your choices. We recommend you start with the following grape varieties to get a sense of what you prefer.
What Are The Different Types Of Red Wine
Wine is usually named after the grape used or the region it was made in. To make it easier, weve gone ahead and listed each varietal and which red blends theyre most common in and what meals theyd pair best with. Pro tip: What grows together, goes together!’ says Swain. If youre ever in doubt, choose a wine from a country thats similar to the cuisine youre cooking for dinner.
Cabernet Sauvignon: This is the most common and most planted grape in the world. Youve got Cabernet from California and even French Cabernet. This type of wine is usually full-bodied with strong tannins . When you drink a Cab you might taste cherries, a hint of tobacco and even vanilla. Its best paired with any type of dark meat . You can even find Cabernet Sauvignon in red blends such as Bourdeaux wine produced in the Bourdeaux region of France.
Pinot Noir: More light-bodied and with a lower content of tannins, Pinot Noir is another incredibly popular red varietal and the most common tasting notes include berries. It pairs well with fish like salmon and even meat like roasted chicken.
Merlot: More medium-bodied and made from grapes that grow in both warm and cool climates, this type of red varietal is incredibly smooth, and depending on the region, can have a low or high amount of tannin . You can also find Merlot in a Bordeaux red blend. Since its so versatile, it pairs well with most food, especially poultry and even vegetable dishes and pasta.
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Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico
This medium-bodied Chianti is a red blend from Tuscany and tastes of violet, cherry, and plum with hints of chocolate and spice. Its got a long smoky finish making it a great wine pair for beef-based dishes or Italian specialties like pasta and eggplant parmesan. Its fairly acidic and on the drier side and is one of my favorite bottles to enjoy on a chilly spring night.
How To Choose The Best Red Wine For You
How much should I spend?
When it comes to wine, theres no right answer. Bargain-basement, supermarket reds start at a couple of quid, but you could easily spend around £50 on a heavyweight Barolo or hundreds on a bottle of vintage Margaux. Consider the occasion, what you can afford to spend and who will be enjoying the wine with you.
Weve focused on affordable and mid-range bottles for this roundup, all of which offer good value for money while being completely delicious.
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Vintage or non-vintage red wine?
Vintage wines, whereby the wine is made only from grapes of a single years harvest then often aged to perfection by the winemaker, cost more than non-vintage wine. Mixing vintages to create a non-vintage means that winemakers can usually produce a cheaper and more uniformly consistent flavour by balancing out any irregularities. If you find a non-vintage you enjoy, it will largely taste the same when you buy it year to year.
Wines that specify their years vintage can be more changeable due to weather conditions during the year of harvest hence wine experts referring to certain wines as having a good year.
What styles of red wine are there?
The fun is all in the trying, but there are a few things to think about when seeking out your latest bottle.
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Dont Compromise On Quality
Another defining factor of great red wine is its quality. You can drink all the tannic wine you want, but if its cheap, nasty plonk youre not going to enjoy the experience. Thats not to say you have to spend hundreds of pounds at the auction house. In fact, its possible to pick up the perfect bottle of red wine for less than £40. Heres what you should be looking for:
- Complexity this sounds a little pretentious, but really what youre after is a wine with a large array of flavours. For example, a great Cabernet Sauvignon will have hints of cherry, blackcurrant, spice, green pepper, and, if its a little older, cigar box, leather, chocolate and savoury.
- Intensity how clearly can you identify each flavour? The more obvious they are, the more intense the wine, and the higher the quality.
- Balance the best wines hold all their flavours in balance. If its fruity, earthy, and well-structured, youre on to a winner.
Potential Health Risks Of Red Wine
While studies have shown some health benefits of drinking red wine, individuals should weigh the benefits against the risks and keep in mind the dangers of alcohol abuse.
Drinking red wine presents some potential health risks:
About 10% of the population is at risk of an allergic reaction to wine. Many components of wine can trigger a reaction, including yeast, molds, and sulfites. Even the flavonoids that make red wine healthy can be troublesome. Red wine is the form of alcohol most likely to cause a reaction in people with asthma.
Many people have a problem with overconsuming alcohol. The U.S. government includes alcohol guidelines in its Healthy People Initiatives, but many individuals do not follow them. Many consumers, especially heavy drinkers, underreport their alcohol consumption, so the problem is likely worse than reports indicate.
Those who are pregnant should not drink alcohol. This precaution extends to those planning to get pregnant and to those who are breastfeeding. All alcohol should be avoided, including red wine.
Alcohol and Gout
People who suffer from gout should not drink at all. Consumption of alcohol, including wine, can worsen gout symptoms.
Drinking too much alcohol of any kind can damage the liver, leading to conditions such as cirrhosis. Alcohol can even worsen conditions caused by a virus, like hepatitis C.
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What Is A Good Everyday Red Wine To Drink
Best Value French: Chne Bleu Ablard 2011
Region: Rhône Valley | ABV: 14.5% | Tasting Notes: Black cherry, Red licorice, Earth, Warm cinnamon
From an ancient property at the cornerstone of four appellations in Frances Southern Rhône, near the town of Gigondas and situated in Mont Ventoux, comes this absolute marvel of a wine. Owners Nicole and Xavier Rolet are incapable of making a bad wine, and incredibly, they’ve taken the extraordinary step of aging their wine for a generous amount of time prior to release. The vintage they currently have on the market is the 2012, but its terribly hard to find. Luckily, the 2011 is up for grabs: A decade-aged Rhône red consisting mostly of grenache, it is a testament to the efforts of these renegade vintners.
Wild red berry fruit, blackberry jam, French vanilla bean and garrigue layered with cigar box spices. Silky soft, elongated tannins support a panoply of flavors, from warm cinnamon and brown sugar spices to curry powder-dusted red berry fruit, with generous dollops of black cherry and red licorice. It finishes with grippy acidity and vivid earthy notes.
Region: Douro, Portugal | ABV: 13.8% | Tasting Notes: Cranberry, Raspberry, Blood Orange, Cedar
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Best Organic: Larkmead 2016 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Napa Valley, California | ABV: 14.7% | Tasting Notes: Dark fruit, Tobacco, Fresh-turned earth, Dark chocolate
This winery, under the watch of winemaker Dan Petroski, doesn’t just focus on making world-class wine. Petroski helps shed light on the necessary work for studying climate change, and in 2015, Larkmead converted to organic farming practices.
Cabernet collectors should stockpile wines from the 2016 vintage, which are high in naturally vibrant acidity due to a moderate growing season. Hallmark signifiers are deep, dark fruit and a distinct freshness, all of which the 2016 Larkmead has in spades. Adding to that are incredibly alluring brown spices, fresh-turned earth and tobacco wrapped in dark chocolate, with mouthwatering purple violet notes and firm, dusty tannins.
This is a wine to contemplate over many hoursand, ideally, over the next decade, with a bottle or two every year.
Region: Carneros, California | ABV: 14.5% | Tasting Notes: Red cherries, Bramble, Brown spices
Proprietor Rich Frank, a former Disney executive, bought his eponymous winery in 1992 and released his first wine a year later.
This 2018 release is a full-bodied pinot noir with lively red fruits, deep concentration, firm acidity and sturdy tannins, which will help it develop over a few decades in a cool, dark cellar.
Good to Know:
Good to Know:
Best Northern California: Raeburn Pinot Noir 2019
Courtesy of Wine.com
- Region: California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
- ABV: 14.5%
- Tasting Notes: Red berry fruit, spices, mocha, cola on the finish
Pinot Noir grapes fulfill their highest potential growing in maritime climates, and the Raeburn Winery, with its Russian River appellations engulfed by the Pacific Ocean air, has this in spades. With a mission statement devoted to a love of the land and sustainable practices, Raeburns wines are truly the fruit of the earth.
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Best French: Ogier Gigondas Dentellis 2017
Courtesy of Vivino
Region: France, Rhone, Gigondas | ABV: 14% | Tasting Notes: Raspberry, Pepper, Blackberry, Cherry.
Once again, Frances southern Rhone region makes an appearance on this list, and maybe its because of their distinctive French grape blends. This 2017 bottle comes from Ogier, a winery in the business since 1859, and features southern Rhône favorites such as syrah, grenache, and mourvédre. Smooth, full-bodied, and aged twelve months in oak barrels, this wine does France proud.
Best Pinot Noir: Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2017
Courtesy of BevMo
Region: California, Mendocino | ABV: 14.5% | Tasting Notes: Black cherry, Clove, Blood orange, Brown spices
Any time youre in the mood for a good pinot noir, you can always bank on a bottle from Californias Anderson Valley. Though not as popular as its neighbors to the south, Napa and Sonoma, the Anderson Valley region boasts some of the states coolest climates. This means its the perfect place for growing the sensitive, thin-skinned and finicky pinot noir variety. This 2017 vintage of Goldeneye, under the illustrious and iconic Duckhorn Vineyards portfolio, is an excellent way to get the true taste of an Anderson Valley pinot noir.
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What Is A Good Reasonable Red Wine
Denner Vineyards Dirt Worshipper 2018
Ever been to Paso Robles? Like Virginia, this is another wine region to run to posthaste after this craziness is behind us. Paso Robles celebrates grape diversity, while still making popular California varieties like Cab. This bottle shows that California is more than the norm. So much more. Its so expressive, with dark, concentrated fruit and that Paso acidity that brightens the deepest of wines. It smells like cooking herbs and a quiet layer of black pepper. Another awesome American wine experience.
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Best Budget: Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvee 2018
Courtesy of Wine
Region: California, Sonoma | ABV: 14.2% | Tasting Notes: Blackberry, Vanilla, Cherry, Spice.
Gundlach Bundschu is an iconic Sonoma brand with six generations and 160 years of winemaking under its belt. Wine beginners will want to acquaint themselves with the GunBun wine portfolioand also, after the pandemic ends, its annual Huichica Music Festival. This event combines GunBun’s great wine with a lineup of excellent music and is arguably the less-crowded antithesis of Outside Lands. Its 2018 Mountain Cuvee is a mostly merlot blend with fantastic flavor and a surprisingly low price tag.
Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Silver Oak Cellars
This full-bodied cabernet packs flavors of berries, dark chocolate, and vanilla. Its bold flavors and complexity pair well with your favorite steak or you can choose to drink it by itself. Its got just the right amount of acidity and feels smooth on your palate without becoming overpowering and if youre planning to store it in your cellar, it should be good through 2034.
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Barefoot Bubbly Sweet Red
Even if youre like me and dont usually go for sparkling wine, there are times of celebration and fun that call for a bit of the bubbly stuff. This sweet red sparkling wine from the iconic Barefoot brand is great for any occasion where you need a little something sweet and bubbly.
Its enjoyable to look at and easy to drink, with the enjoyable taste of red fruit. Whether its a birthday, a birth, a wedding, or milestone, Barefoot Bubbly is a great wine for fun.
How To Choose The Best Red Wine
Whats the best red wine? Youve probably asked yourself this question a dozen times before. But how do you make that judgment call? Do you ask your local wine clerk or scan the labels for something that sounds familiar or prestigious?
The problem with wine recommendations is that theyre often very subjective. What works for one person wont necessarily work for another, which leaves you with a tricky dilemma. Lets look at a few ways you can discover a red wine that suits your preferences.
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Freemark Abbey Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
I can feel American wine diversifying by the year. More innovation and focus on soil and variety relationships are driving a bright diverse future. But we cant forget how this all came to be. Founded by Josephine Tychson in the late 19th century, Freemark Abbey survived disease and Prohibition, entering both the red and white categories in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Dark and brooding, this wine is deserving of aromatic descriptors such as mocha, blackberries, and hints of white and cracked black pepper. Its still aging with a rustic edge, but is a pleasure to drink now. In a few years, itll soften into the legacy it holds.
Three French Red Wines To Buy For Next Year
The communal or village-level wines of both Bordeaux and Burgundy offer solid examples of what each region has to offer at often very affordable prices. Exploring these fantastic red wines are a great way to learn about the regional differences that make them so distinctive. However, Bordeaux and Burgundy are not the only French regions that produce red wines built for ageing.
Though Provence is better known for rosé wines, the Bandol appellation crafts delicious, structured red wines from the Mourvèdre grape variety. These are dark wines with dark-fruit flavors that are particularly well-suited to pair with braised-meat dishes.
4 & 5. Côte Rôtie and St Joseph
The Rhône Valley is yet another source of high-quality, ageable wines and some of the best French red wines. The Syrah variety hails from the northern sector, and by many accounts, the appellations here produce the worlds greatest wines from this popular red variety. The Côte Rôtie, Cornas and Hermitage appellations are particularly treasured by those in the know, while the St Joseph and Croze Hermitage growing areas often offer tremendous value. The warmer southern Rhône has a larger pool of allowed red varieties and most of the areas wines are blends. Grenache dominates here and is often blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre, among others. These are ripe, rich wines full of flavor and personality. Stars of the Southern Rhône include Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas.
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