Grape vines grow in all different varieties. Because of where they grow, how they are cared for, and processing factors these grapes all produce different (delicious) wines. Keep your wine rack filled with these nine common —and not quite as common—types of red wine:
1. Cabernet Sauvignon
Description: Cabernet Sauvignon hails from all over the world, but first started its heavy growth in the Bordeaux region of France. As far as types of red wine go, Cab is generally a full bodied wine with bold tannins due to the higher concentration of alcohol.
Tasting Notes: Dark current, dark cherry, and other darker fruit flavors can be found in most young Cabernet Sauvignons as well as herbal hints or baking spices. If aged in cedar or oak barrels, this type of wine will hold the essence of that method as well.
Food Pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon is a great meat and cheese wine. Think lamb, steak (is your mouth watering yet?), and firm aged cheese.
Description: Types of red wine don’t get easier to drink than a Merlot. It’s the perfect beginners red with a smooth taste, medium level tannins, and deep fruity flavors. Merlot is also a very blend-able grape making for some delicious mixed wines worth picking up!
Tasting Notes: Merlot can have different flavor profiles depending on the climate it’s grown in. Hotter more humid climates will produce sweeter tannins and a black cherry mocha flavor. Where cooler climates will provide a full bodied tobacco, licorice, mineral Merlot.
Food Pairings: Whether your taste buds are craving roasted chicken, pork, or beef, Merlot will have your back. Avoid overwhelming spicy flavors, seafood, and green leafy vegetables.
Description: Not as common in the types of red wine is Barbera, similar in style to Merlot. Barbera is an Italian grape that is widely grown in California as well. It’s got a silky smooth consistency and high acidity.
Tasting Notes: Black cherry is the name of the game with this red, too. Hints of plum are also common in these types of red wine.
Food Pairings: Anything you would pair Merlot with, you can also pair Barbera wines with. Both are superb matches for tomato based dishes!
4. Pinot Noir
Description: Pinot Noir boasts softer tannins and higher acidity. First grown in France regions, this type of red wine is known for being lighter in body, and totally yummy.
Tasting Notes: Types of red wine like Pinot Noir have breathtaking floral aromas. Underneath, this wine brings red-fruit flavors like cranberry and cherry to life. Not to be left out are notes of rhubarb, beet, and even sometimes a hint of mushroom.
Food Pairings: Pair a glass of Pinot Noir with your favorite salmon cooked on cedar grill plank.
Sushi is also a good play here.
Don’t forget about chicken and lamb for delicious alternative pairings as well!
Description: Malbec is a Bordeaux born wine, but Argentina took hold and really made it their own. It can also be found in Chili as well as cooler regions of California. Because of this, flavor profiles very, but it is still a favorite among types of red wine choices in many households (including my own).
Tasting Notes: Depending on where you source your Malbec, you can expect hints of sour cherry, plums, berries, and spice.
Food Pairings: Malbec wines are great to pair with any meat based meals —noticing a trend yet? If you purchase Argentine Malbec, pair with Mexican, or Indian dishes, this wine is perfect for a little heat!
6. Shiraz (or Syrah)
Description: Most commonly grown in Australia and parts of France, Shiraz (also known as Syrah) is one of the more full-bodied types of red wine. It’s in the middle of the tannin spectrum, and usually has bold fruit flavors.
Tasting Notes: Sipping on Shiraz leaves you with tastes of blueberry, tobacco, plum, meat, and black pepper.
Food Pairings: Pair Shiraz with cheeses from the Mediterranean, smoked meats, or even some wild game. Moose, anyone?
7. Petit Sirah
Description: A rare —yet popular— grape, Petit Sirah largely grows in California and has a full-bodied flavor. It’s a medium acidity wine with high tannins, and high alcohol content. Petit Sirah is a wine made to blossom in a decanter. Pour it early and let it sit for two to four long awaited hours.
Tasting Notes: Black pepper, dark chocolate, blueberry, black tea and sugar plum are some of the delicious tastes you will find in a Petit Sirah.
Food Pairings: Love cheese? This wine will support your aged cheese affection. Start with some camembert or aged Gouda. For meat lovers, serve up some burgers or roasted pork, and try some barbeque! This wine doesn’t forget vegetarians either! It pairs with eggplant, mushrooms, black beans, and so much more. Yum!
Description: Sangiovese is primarily a Tuscan wine. Its color is lighter, and the high acidity level is no joke. This grape is a proud Chianti ingredient, and medium bodied.
Tasting Notes: Berry and plum flavors, pie cherry, anise, and tobacco can all be found tickling your taste buds with this wine!
Food Pairings: Naturally, this wine pairs well with Italian fair. All hail pizza, pasta, and red wine! Mediterranean food also works well with Sangiovese. It’s just one of those types of red wine that has you dreaming of a Tuscan vacation.
Description: California is the main grower of these types of wine, but Zinfandel vines originated from Croatia. Zinfandel ranges in color from light blush wines to deep rich red wines making them a fit for many wine lovers. Zinfandel has a higher alcohol percentage, and flavors can range as much as the color!
Tasting Notes: Depending on the bottle, you can taste a variety of flavors in Zinfandel from overripe nectarine, to raspberries and blueberries. Asian spices are no stranger to some and tobacco flavors to others.
Food Pairings: Grab a bottle of Zin if you’re in the market for takeout! Chinese, Thai, and Indian cuisine all pair well with this wine. As does cheddar cheese, and many meat options. You really can’t go wrong!
Not only will you impress your guests having these types of red wine on hand, but you’ll always have the perfect bottle for pairing with your next delicious meal. Keep in mind that it is considered best practice to always use an aerator when pouring your glass of wine!
Have other red wine suggestions for this list? Let us know in the comments!