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How to Find the Best Red Wine

How to Find the Best Red Wine

How to Find the Best Red Wine

Whether it’s for a celebratory dinner party, a romantic date, or a quiet evening with a book, a nice bottle of red wine is the perfect fit for the occasion. However, choosing the best red wine can prove to be a challenge.

This A-Z guide will help give you a basic understanding of red wine—everything from what types of red wine offer what flavours to their acidity and what to pair them with.

Of course, the “best” red wine is, in many ways, is subjective. Everyone will have their personal preferences. With that in mind, we’ll be covering a variety of different types of wine.

Some are sweet; others are tart. Some have fruity notes; others have smokey notes. To start with, let’s explore the difference between the qualities of red and white wine.

Table of Contents

Red Wine 101

Red Wine vs. White Wine

Other than their colour, there are several key differences between red and white wine. First, of which is that red wine is made from black grapes, which aren’t actually black—they can range in colour from light red to deep indigo. White wine most often comes from white grapes, which are green in colour.

What gives red wines their pretty colour is the skin of the grapes. However, with white wines, the skin is removed. We’ll talk more on how this affects the flavour in a moment. While red wine is always made using black grapes, not all white wine is made with white grapes. Since the inside of all grapes is white, you can make white wine with dark-coloured grapes by removing the skin.

The flavour differences between red and white wine can be quite noticeable. This has to do with the types of grapes used and the way the juice is aged. Red wine is most often aged in oak barrels while white wines are most often aged in stainless steel vats. Of course, there are exceptions. For instance, Chardonnay—which is white wine—is aged in oak barrels to add nutty and creamy flavours to the wine.

Oak barrels breath, allowing the wine to oxidize, while steel vats are airtight which prevents oxidation. Keeping oxidation at a minimum allows the wine to retain its fruity, floral, and acidic flavors. Oak barrels exchange these flavors for more nutty, rich, and smooth ones.

Understanding Wine Descriptors

There are a wide variety of ways to describe the many tastes, aromas, and sensations of wine. To get an idea of what might be the best red wine for you, let’s first take a look at some of the factors we use to describe wine.

In this article, we are going to split wine up into six different elements:

  • Flavors
  • Sweetness
  • Body
  • Tannin
  • Acidity
  • Alcohol content

This may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll know exactly how to describe the wine you’re looking for and know if a bottle of wine on the shelf may be a good match. Let’s talk about each of these elements in detail.


At first, it seems a bit odd to talk about different flavors when referring to wine. After all, wine is a unique flavor in itself. But with every wine having different tastes, the best way to describe the flavors is by referring to other familiar flavors. Some common flavors you will find in red wines are cherries, dark fruits, berries, chocolate, leather, tobacco, peaches, bell peppers, oak, smoke, and coffee.

Each wine will have a handful of flavors that are used to describe it. Though terms used to describe wine can be quite odd—leather, crushed gravel, and pencil shavings—don’t get too caught up on these. Chances are, your wine won’t actually taste like you’re gulping down liquified pencils. As long as the majority of the primary flavors sound pleasant to you, it may be a good fit.


Describing the sweetness of a wine is pretty straightforward. The more dry, the less sweet the wine is. Wines range from very dry to very sweet:

  • Very dry/bone dry—wines close to 0% sweetness
  • Dry—wines at or around 1% sweetness
  • Off dry/semi-sweet—wines above 3% sweetness
  • Sweet—wines above 5% sweetness
  • Very sweet/dessert wines—wines above 7% sweetness

Brand new wine drinkers should avoid very dry wines since they can be too bitter to enjoy at first.

red wine in vineyard


The body of a wine refers to how heavy or thick it feels in the mouth. For instance, a light-bodied wine may feel similar to the weight of water, while a full-bodied wine may feel similar to the weight of whole milk. In general, red wines have a fuller body than white wines.


Tannin naturally occurs in all sorts of plants and fruits including grapes. To get an idea of what it is and how it tastes, it helps to relive a time when you accidentally over-steeped black tea.

Black tea contains tannin which is most noticeable when you leave the tea bag in for too long. When taking a sip, you may notice a bitter taste that leaves your mouth with a puckering or dry feeling. In the same way, tannin wines dry the mouth.

Red wine is more tannic than white wine because of how they differ in the way they’re made. Red wines get their color and tannin, for the most part, from the grape skins that sit in the grape juice as it ferments. White wine is fermented without the grape skin, so it’s not as tannic.

When describing a wine as having high tannin, this means you can expect more bitterness. A low tannin wine would be the opposite—it would not cause as much of a dry sensation.

When researching wine, you may notice terms such as firm, leathery bitter, smooth, soft, rough, and chewy. These are describing the taste or sensation that tannin gives to the wine. As a rule of thumb, the more tannic wine is, the more boldness you can expect from the taste and the darker it looks.

Tannin is also a powerful antioxidant substance which offers many benefits through consuming wine in moderation. Its antioxidant properties produce anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic effects which help support a healthy body. Some studies suggest that a glass of tannic red wine each day may boost your health.

It’s easy to confuse the mouth dryness experienced when sipping tannic wine with the term “dry” when describing the sweetness of a wine. A tannic wine isn’t necessarily dry in terms of sweetness. Since tannin is, in many ways, the foundation of red wine, you’ll see it mentioned a lot in this guide.

cheese platter and wine


Wines with a high acidity will have a more tart or sour taste—think citrus or vinegar. Low acidity wines have a more rich or mellow flavor. In general, white wines are more acidic than red wines. However, some red wines can be quite acidic.

Alcohol Content

The amount of alcohol in wine can affect flavor and feeling. A dry wine with high alcohol content may even cause a slight burning sensation—especially after spicy foods. Higher alcohol content will also mean you get tipsy faster.

Wines can have as little as 5% ABV (alcohol by volume) to upwards of 20% ABV. However, most red wines sit around 11.5-14.5% ABV.

The Best Fit for the Occasion

The best red wine often depends on the occasion. It may be better to go with a more versatile wine that a higher number of people will enjoy rather than only considering your own taste when choosing wine for a party, gathering, or date.

It’s better to choose a well-rounded wine with the flavors, sweetness, body, acidity, and alcohol content being toward the middle of the spectrum rather than the extremes. Choosing a wine with a bold flavor will likely leave dinner guests unhappy with the choice.

If you are bringing a bottle of wine to pair with a meal, it’s best to know what will be served ahead of time so you can research which wines tend to pair best.

Of course, if you’re mixing the wine into a sangria for a nice summer cookout, the flavor of the wine will matter much less since it will be overshadowed by more prominent flavors. However, when choosing a wine to cook with, you’re better off picking a wine that’s most similar to the one used in the recipe.

wine and cheese platter

Red Wine & Food Pairing

When choosing the best red wine for the occasion, you should consider which foods, if any, will accompany it. Despite what some hardcore wine enthusiasts may believe, there is no right or wrong wine to have with a dish or snack. If you enjoy it, then it’s the right wine. However, there are some rules of thumb which may help you find a good pairing.

Bold red wine Malbec, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon

These types of bold red wines pair well with:

  • Grilled or roasted red meat
  • Cured meat
  • Pork
  • Pungent cheese
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Black pepper
  • Red pepper
  • Pasta
  • Potato

Medium red wineMerlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Tempranillo, Barbera, Sangiovese

These types of medium red wines pair well with:

  • Smoked Pork
  • Cured meat
  • Red meat
  • Grilled or roasted poultry
  • Pungent or hard cheese
  • Onion
  • Tomato
  • Mushroom
  • Red pepper
  • Exotic spices
  • Potato

Light red wine Pinot Noir

Light red wines pair well with:

  • Sauteed or fried poultry
  • Salami
  • Soft or cream cheese
  • Onion
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Exotic spices
  • Fresh herbs (oregano, basil, thyme)
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potato

How to Shop for a Wine

Choosing a wine for the front label is tempting. But, using this tactic, there’s a good chance your first sip will be disappointing. An eye-catching label has little to do with whether or not the wine will fit your taste and a lot to do with how good the company’s marketing team is.

bottles of wine

Shopping by price isn’t the best choice either. A $75 bottle of wine can taste awful, and an $8.64 bottle of wine can taste great—price does not always determine quality and taste. In fact, some high-priced and exotic wines may only taste good to the wine enthusiast and not so good to the average wine drinker—like you and me.

Have a good idea of what you like ahead of time. Do you like a sweet and fruity flavor? Or do you prefer a dry, smokey, and nutty flavor? If you prefer frappuccinos over black, unsweetened coffee or tea, this could be an indicator that a dry red wine isn’t the best choice.

Instead, a sweeter wine like a Lambrusco Dolce would be the better choice. If you aren’t a fan of sweet, sugary candy, you may be better off with a more dry wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like it all—both bitter and sweet—it may take some experimenting to figure out what you enjoy most.

While the front label isn’t all that descriptive of what’s inside, the back label will (hopefully) provide a lot of information to help you make your decision.

Shopping for a bottle of wine online can be very helpful. Not only are there more wines to choose from, but many wine websites also allow you to input your preferences, price range, and even food pairings. You can look over the real reviews left by professional as well as people who are new to red wine. Some good websites to check out are,, and

Buying red wine in bulk

There are certain situations when buying red wine in bulk makes sense. For instance:

  • You’re hosting a dinner party for more than a handful of people
  • You’re planning a special event such as a wedding
  • You’ve found your favorite red wine, and you want to stay stocked up
  • You want to get discounted prices on red wine

Buying in bulk can often be much cheaper. Plus, you can eliminate that second trip to the grocery store because you forgot to stock up. Conveniently, there are many ways you can buy wine in bulk. Of course, you can buy wine in bulk at your local liquor store. However, you’re limited to the wines they have available in store and the discounts that they offer.

You can also purchase bulk wine from a wholesale store such as Sam’s Club or Costco. But again, you’re limited to the select wines they have available. You also have to purchase a membership at these stores which you’ll need to factor in when considering the discounted prices.

In many cases, it makes sense to order bulk wine online. You have access to a huge variety of red wines, you can shop around to see which bulk wine seller has the best discounts, and they often ship the wine to your door for free (depending on the seller). There are many different online wine wholesalers to choose from nowadays including and

Wine subscriptions

Another way to save money on wine is to sign up for a wine subscription. If you know which red wines you like most, you can have several bottles sent to you automatically each month. You can also have the option to try a new wine each week if you’re not sure what you like.

Wine subscriptions are a great option for those who don’t have room to store cases of wine. It’s also a great way to try new wines, get exclusive wines not available anywhere else, and fine the wine at a discounted price. Gary Vaynerchuk’s is one of a few great wine subscription websites worth giving a try.

Top 11 Types of Red Wine: Everything You Need to Know


wine cheers

Let’s talk about some of the world’s most popular types of red wine. These wines are from grapes originating all over the world with a wide variety of flavor profiles. We’re going to cover the basics of each of these types of wine as well as share a couple of different bottles of each that are worth trying. First up, we have one of the world’s most popular wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cabernet Sauvignon grape was an accidental creation in seventeenth-century France. It is a combination of the black grape Cabernet Franc and the white grape Sauvignon Blanc. Through an accident, this combination created what may be the most popular grape among American wine drinkers. Today, Cabernet Sauvignon wine is made in nearly every wine region.

This full body wine has a nice deep dark color and an alcohol content between 13.5% and 15%. Cabernet Sauvignon is a dry wine with a good level of tannin—which is why when you sip it your mouth will feel dry. As you taste this wine, you may notice flavors of black cherry, tobacco, baking spices, and a hint of vanilla.

Cabernet Sauvignon is perfect for having with food—especially red meat. In fact, it’s best to have this wine with food because many feel that it can be overwhelming on its own. This makes it the perfect fit for having friends over for some steaks on the grill or preparing roast beef for a romantic date.

  • Flavors: Dark fruits, baking spices, bell pepper, vanilla
  • Sweetness: Dry
  • Body: Full
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Red meat, strong-flavored or peppery dishes

Cabernet Sauvignon wines worth trying

Carson Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

From Paso Robles, CA comes to this balanced medium-full bodied Cabernet. It has a rich color and offers a ripe blackberry and cherry flavor with a touch of oak. This is a great every-day wine for pairing with your favorite cheeses or full-flavored dishes.

Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (GREAT PICK FOR BEGINNERS)

This Cabernet will win you over with its complex aromas of dark fruit, clove, oak, and cinnamon. It has a full body and rich fruit flavors that will bring to mind red cherry, blackberry, and a touch of vanilla. Expect moderate tannin that offers a silky and soothing texture.


From the Rhône Valley of France comes this rich and powerful wine. Syrah—often referred to as Shiraz—has flavors of blueberry, black plum, and milk chocolate. Although, some bottles may also have hints of smoked meat and tobacco. This is one of the best wines to consume if you’re seeking health benefits. It’s loaded with invigorating antioxidants that can help support a healthy body (when consuming in moderation).

Syrah is a dry wine with a full body. It has medium-high tannins so expect it to dry your mouth a bit, but not overly so. The acidity level of this wine is average—not too high, not too low. You can expect an ABV between 13.5% to upwards of 15%. The best way to experience all of the flavors of Syrah is to serve it at or just below room temperature. It pairs well with grilled meats, cheddar cheese, and exotic spices.

  • Flavors: Blueberry, milk chocolate, black plum, tobacco
  • Sweetness: Dry
  • Body: Full
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Grilled meat, cheddar, exotic spices

Syrah wines worth trying

Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz

This Shiraz is well-balanced and very tasty. It has aromas of cherry, red plum, and savory herbs. This one is strong and supple with a rich texture that is even from start to finish. You can expect flavors of dark fruit and a hint of black olive.

Barossa Valley Estate Shiraz

Alluring flavors of exotic spices and vibrant flavors of blackberry and fresh plum is what you can expect from this tasty Shiraz. This one flows easily on the palate. The aroma is of dark fruit and savory spices. You won’t be disappointed pairing this Shiraz with braised meat.


Merlot is adored for its lively black cherry flavors and chocolaty finish. In many ways, Merlot has similar qualities to Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, a good Merlot can be mistaken for a Cabernet. However, Merlot wines are known to be less aggressive, more lush, and more smooth.

With its balanced acidity, moderate tannin, and prominent fruity flavors, this wine is highly versatile. Merlot is perfect for experimenting with different food pairings—there’s really no wrong choice. Although, Merlot may be overwhelmed by incredibly spicy foods, or be overwhelming when enjoying lighter foods such as fish and leafy greens.

You can expect an ABV of between 13.5% and 15%. Merlot is typically preferred at room temperature, like most red wines. A good tasting Merlot is relatively easy to find on a budget—after all, the Merlot grape is the second most popular grape in the world.

  • Flavors: Plum, cherry, chocolate, vanilla
  • Sweetness: Medium-dry
  • Body: Medium-full
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Anything from pizza to BBQ to roast turkey

Merlot wines worth trying

Oberon Merlot

This wine’s grapes are sourced from Napa Valley’s renowned Oakville district. You can expect lush berry, chocolate, and blueberry flavors and a dark, velvety feel. It has dense aromas of dark fruit (think black cherry and blueberry) and a hint of oak.

Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve Merlot

With intense concentrations of dark chocolate, black fruit, and toasted oak, this Merlot is one to die for. You can expect a long, velvety finish and nice fruit tones. This Merlot is crafted with delicious grapes that are hand-picked to ensure the best quality—and it shows.

red wine tasting


Malbec grapes, originating from France, are now primarily grown in Argentina. Malbec wine is known for its rich flavors of dark fruit and smooth cocoa finish. You may notice flavors such as blackberry, plum, vanilla, tobacco, and chocolate. This is a medium to dry wine with a full body and medium to low acidity. You can expect around 13.5% to 15% ABV.

Malbec is best when served at around or just below room temperature. It pairs well with lean red meats such as sirloin steak as well as mushrooms and blue cheese. Malbec grapes grown in cooler climates may have more cherry flavors while those in a warmer climate can have more pronounced blackberry flavors.

Malbec can be a bit sweeter than a Sangiovese or Cabernet. This makes it a great alternative for those who prefer a red wine on the sweeter side of dry rather than a bone-dry red wine since it shares some similar flavors such as dark fruit, tobacco, and vanilla.

  • Flavors: Blackberry, red plum, cocoa, tobacco, vanilla
  • Sweetness: Medium-dry
  • Body: Full
  • Tannin: Medium
  • Acidity: Medium-low
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Lean meats, blue cheese, mushroom sauces

Malbec wines worth trying

Catena Malbec

This Malbec has a lot of depth with intense aromas, concentrated flavors, and a soft texture. The aroma is of ripe dark fruit and a hint of lavender. You can expect flavors of blueberry, blackberry, and just a touch of cinnamon spice. This wine has bright acidity and well-integrated tannins.

Zuccardi Q Malbec

This deep-purple Malbec is from the Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina. It has intense aromas of dark fruit, raisin, blueberry jam, and dried figs. You can expect flavors black fruit as well as a hint of tobacco and chocolate from the aging process in French oak barrels. This one has a long finish and firm tannins.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2017 | Vivino

This wine was sourced mostly from Altamira but has some grapes from Chacayes. It fermented with 50% full clusters in concrete vats, and some 30% of the wine aged in used 225- and 500-liter oak barrels. The oak is unnoticeable, and in fact, I find similarities with the Concreto—pure, strict, raw and characterful, with plenty of fine-grained, chalky tannins.

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Pinot Noir

The world’s favorite light-bodied wine is Pinot Noir—and for a good reason. Pinot Noir wines are known for their mouth-watering flavors of flowers, red fruit, and spice, which are emphasized by a long, smooth finish. You may notice flavors of cherry, raspberry, hibiscus, and vanilla.

Unlike many of the red wines we’ve talked about so far, Pinot Noir is medium to low in tannin and a medium to high acidity. You can expect between 11.5% to 13.5% ABV, which is lower than many red wines.

Pinot Noir is best served below room temperature, or just slightly chilled. This is a highly versatile wine that will pair well with many different foods. Mushrooms, duck, pork, and chicken all work great with Pinot Noir.

  • Flavors: Cherry, raspberry, vanilla, hibiscus
  • Sweetness: Dry
  • Body: Medium
  • Tannin: Medium-low
  • Acidity: Medium-high
  • ABV: 11.5-13.5%
  • Best served: Below room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Mushrooms, duck, pork, chicken

Pinot Noir wines worth trying

Meiomi Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir has bright fruit aromas of strawberry and fruit preserves as well as a hint of mocha and vanilla. You can expect long toasty notes and expressive black cherry, blackberry, strawberry, boysenberry, and toasted mocha flavors which are deep and complex on the pallet.

Meiomi Pinot Noir | Vivino

Meiomi Pinot Noir has a consistent profile of supple tannins, silky texture, and balanced acidity that makes it the perfect wine to enjoy with a wide array of food. It pairs particularly well with tomato-based pasta dishes, thin-crust pizza, grilled lamb, and turkey.

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With a beautiful ruby hue and nice aromas of raspberry, cherry, and earth, this Pinot Noir is definitely worth a try. It brings to mind bright red fruit flavors on the palate such as cranberry and red cherry which are complemented by mid-palate flavors of lightly-roasted coffee and a hint of black pepper. You can expect a nice balanced acidity and a crisp finish.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is the parent grape to two of the worlds most popular wine grapes—Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. You may taste flavors of raspberry, strawberry, bell pepper, chili pepper, and (oddly) crushed gravel. This is a medium body wine with medium to high tannin and relatively high acidity. You can expect 11.5% to 13.5% ABV.

This wine is best served at room temperature. With Cabernet Franc having a higher acidity, it pairs well vinegary sauces such as BBQ as well as dishes with tomatoes, white fish, and quiche. Overall, this wine will appeal to those who enjoy the flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon but find it a bit too bold or overwhelming. Cabernet Franc may be a lighter alternative.

  • Flavors: Raspberry, strawberry, bell pepper, chili pepper
  • Sweetness: Dry
  • Body: Medium
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium-high
  • ABV: 11.5-13.5%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Tomato-based dishes, vinegary sauces, rich legumes

Cabernet Franc wines worth trying

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Franc

This 96-point Cabernet Franc has a deep and intense red color. It has the aroma of dark fruit and a touch of fresh mint. You can expect a nice balance from this wine with a long finish. It has flavors of blackberry and cherry as well as notes of cassis and clove.

Domaine de Pallus Chinon Les Pensees de Pallus

This delicious Cabernet Franc is ripe and juicy and yet quite compact. You can expect flavors of cassis, blackberry, plum, and a touch of tobacco. The aroma may bring to mind dark berries, flowers, and spice.

red wine and cheese


From the gorgeous dalmatian coast of Croatia comes this bold red. Zinfandel is a fruit-forward wine with blackberry, strawberry, and peach jam flavors which are accented by spicy notes of cinnamon and smokey hints of sweet tobacco. This is a dry wine with a medium-full body, medium-low acidity, and medium-high tannin. Take it easy with this one—it can easily exceed 15% ABV.

Zinfandel is best served at room temperature (between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit). This wine pairs great with anything from the meat aisle as well as with chili, roasted tomatoes, and parmesan. With such a high alcohol content, pairing with an overly spicy dish may set your mouth on fire.

  • Flavors: Strawberry, blackberry, peach jam, cinnamon
  • Sweetness: Medium-dry
  • Body: Medium-full
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium-low
  • ABV: 15%+
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Turkey, ham, roasted tomatoes, garlic, chili

Zinfandel wines worth trying

Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Zinfandel

With bold aromas of wild blackberry, cherry, and toasted oak, this Zinfandel is packed full of pleasant aromas and flavors. You can expect dense flavors of boysenberry, spice, vanilla, and black cherry.

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel

This delicious Zinfandel is packed full of jammed fruit flavors including raspberry and blackberry. It has bold accents of cinnamon, licorice, and spice. You can expect plush tannins and a flavor that goes perfectly with salami, pizza, and red sauces.


Sangiovese is the most planted grape variety in all of Italy. It’s known to take on different flavors based on the area it grows in. You may notice flavors of cherry, coffee, sweet balsamic vinegar, Italian spices, and roasted tomatoes. This is an especially dry wine with a medium to full body, medium-high tannin, and medium-high acidity.

Sangiovese is best served at room temperature. The higher acidity of this red wine makes it a great pairing for a wide variety of foods. Tomatoes, peppers, grilled meats, spice-heavy foods, and vegetables will all work nicely together with Sangiovese.

This is a good red wine for those who believe they may enjoy a bottle of wine with absolutely no sweetness—perfect for straight espresso drinkers. However, this isn’t the best wine to drink all on its own. It’s best when it’s paired with a meal.

  • Flavors: Cherry, espresso, sweet balsamic, roasted tomato
  • Sweetness: Very dry
  • Body: Medium-full
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium-high
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Herbs, tomatoes, cured sausages, hard cheeses

Sangiovese wines worth trying

Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva

This Sangiovese has aromas of cherry, plum, lavender and a hint of both green olive and white truffle. You can expect a full-bodied wine with ripe tannins, many layers of flavor, and a long, lingering finish.

Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva

With a brilliant ruby color and extraordinary flavors, this Sangiovese isn’t one you want to miss out on. It has a fruity aroma, velvety texture, and a long finish. You can expect flavors of black cherry, woodsy spices, and a smokey finish.


Barbera is another delicious Italian red and the third most planted grape in Italy. Until recently, Barbera was quite hard to find in America. Now it can be found in vineyards worldwide. This everyday wine is bone dry and yet quite low in mouth-drying tannins. You can expect high acidity, a medium to full body, and 13.5-15% acidity.

Again, this is another red wine that is best served at or just below room temperature. Barbera pairs well with mushroom pizza, dark meats, blue cheese, and root vegetables. This is a wine best had with a meal rather than on its own.

  • Flavors: Tart cherry, blackberry, black pepper, licorice
  • Sweetness: Very dry
  • Body: Medium-full
  • Tannin: Medium-low
  • Acidity: High
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Mushrooms, dark meats, root vegetables, blue cheese

Barbera wines worth trying

G.D. Vajra Barbera d’Alba (TOP PICK FOR BEGINNERS)

This Barbera has a beautiful and lively purple color with a fragrant floral scent. You can expect flavors of sweet spice, juicy cherry, blackberry, and pepper. This is a well-balanced wine that is beautifully vibrant with a lingering finish.

Pico Maccario Lavignone Barbera D’Asti

This Barbera is bright, lively, and aromatic with soft tannins. You can expect aromas of pomegranate, blackberry, fruitcake, violets, and herbs as well as flavors of red cherry and blackberry that go well with roasted chicken and a wide variety of cheese.


Tempranillo is Spain’s most popular wine. Some of the best Tempranillo is aged for over twenty years. It has a complex variety of flavor layers from start to finish. The primary flavors of this wine are dry fig, cherry, cedar, and tobacco. Tempranillo is a dry wine with medium to high tannin, medium to high acidity, and a medium-full body.

You can expect an ABV of around 13.5% and 15%. This is another red wine that is best served at around room temperature. Tempranillo wines can pair well with lasagna, stuffed peppers, steak, and burgers.

  • Flavors: Dry fig, cherry, cedar, tobacco
  • Sweetness: Very dry
  • Body: Medium-full
  • Tannin: Medium-high
  • Acidity: Medium-high
  • ABV: 13.5-15%
  • Best served: At room temperature
  • Pairs well with: Stuffed peppers, burgers, lasagna

Tempranillo wines worth trying

Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva

This Spanish wine is a beautiful cherry-red in color. This is a full and tasty wine with a good structure and round tannins. It fills the nostrils with a spicy, balsamic aroma and has notes of ripe dark fruit and a hint of oak. Pair this wine with ham, mild cheese, poultry, red meat, and roasts.

Vina Alberdi

This beautiful wine is a lively garnet color with intense fresh aromas of ripe red fruits. This is a wine marked with freshness and balance with a good structure and soft, amiable tannins. It has flavors of strawberries and raspberries with notes of classic spice and vanilla. This is a versatile wine when it comes to pairing. It goes perfectly with pasta, rice, stews, grilled meats, and fish.

Lambrusco Dolce

Lambrusco Dolce is by far the sweetest red wine that you’ll find in this guide. If you like sugary sweet beverages with a nice fizz, this is your wine. There are many types of Lambrusco ranging from sweet to dry. However, we’re going to focus on Lambrusco Dolce (dolce literally means sweet and soft).

This wine has flavors of sweet dark fruits that will taste like a dessert. The body is light to medium, depending on the bottle. You shouldn’t feel dryness in your mouth when drinking a Lambrusco Dolce since it’s not very tannic. The acidity is higher, resembling a white wine in some aspects.

Unlike most red wines, Lambrusco Dolce is best served a little bit chilled—but not ice cold. This wine works great with desserts and sweet foods including pie, cake, waffles, and sweet crepes.

If you’re new to trying a wine and you have a sweet tooth, this is a great place to start. However, Lambrusco Dolce is not recommended if you prefer your coffee black and without sugar. This is a sparkling wine, so if you’ve never had a Lambrusco before, you may also be surprised by the subtle fizziness.

  • Flavors: Strawberry, blueberry, rhubarb, boysenberry
  • Sweetness: Medium-sweet
  • Body: Light-medium
  • Tannin: Low-medium
  • Acidity: Medium-high
  • ABV: 10.5-11.5%
  • Best served: Chilled
  • Pairs well with: Waffles, pie, sweet crepes, cake

Lambrusco Dolce wines worth trying

Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena

This is a sweet and delicious red wine that is sure to delight the tastebuds. It is fresh and lightly sparkling with a scent of red berries. This wine delivers flavors of raspberry, strawberry, and hints of tangy tangerine. Pair this wine with tortellini, boiled meats, and typical Modena cuisine.

Grasparossa di Castelvetro

This sweet wine has an intense and vibrant red color. It has wonderful fruity aromas and grape fragrances. It’s smooth with lively bubbles. This wine goes well with traditional cruise from Emilia and also pairs well with desserts.

wine pairings

FAQs About Red Wine

Is red wine good for health?

As long as you consume one to two glasses a day, wine is healthy for you. Health professionals advise drinking of total 7 to 10 glasses per week, so make sure you’re on the right path in order to avoid getting drunk and having some more serious health issues.

How do Beginners drink red wine?

You can’t expect to become an expert in wine in a few days, but you can always start with reading the label first, reading the notes of the wine you are drinking and the temperature it’s best to be served, and in order to be able to feel all the notes of the wine, it’s best if you swirl it while in the glass and smell it before taking a sip.

Which red wine is healthiest?

The healthiest red wine to drink is Pinot Noir. This wine has high antioxidant resveratrol levels which basically means that by drinking it, you are consuming lots of antioxidants that will protect your body from illnesses like cander or heart disease.

Is Red Wine Right For You?

If none of these flavors sound appealing, you may just not prefer red wine. There are countless white wines to choose from which may better-fit your taste.

If you’re still not sure you can pick the perfect bottle of red wine, choose a few and give them each a try. Then note what you liked about each for the next time you go wine shopping. It may take some experimenting to find a red wine you like, so don’t give up after the first try. Most of all, enjoy the experience.