The different kinds of red wine

All about red wine

Red wine is obtained from black or dark-skinned grape varieties , after the fermentation of their must while retaining the seeds, the skin and often the stalk.

The duration of this fermentation depends on the type of wine desired , the specificities of the harvest and the winemaking techniques specific to each terroir.

Depending on the vatting variations, we can obtain light reds or reds for laying down .

The color of these wines tends to vary with age . They are rather purplish and intense when young, brick red when ripe, and brown when older.

From sweet Merlot and noble Pinot Noir to versatile Zinfandel and universally beloved Cabernet Sauvignon , these varieties offer unique characteristics. This is what differentiates them from other types of wine.

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A unique and very popular wine among wine types

There are three types of wine: red wines, white wines and rosé wines.

What distinguishes a red wine, a white wine or a rosé wine is not only the color. Let's see the peculiarities of wine by color.

Wines can be grouped according to their types or colors .

  • White wines

White wines are those that contain little or no red pigmentation. They are almost always made from white grapes, but can also be made from black grapes.

Winemakers can produce them from black grapes because the juice from most of these grapes is actually clear. They just make sure to shorten the contact time of the juice with the skin of the grapes. These wines can be sweet or dry, or fall between these two extremes.

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  • Rosé wines

Rosé wines are pink in color, and are sometimes called simply rosé.

Rosés are made from black grapes, but don't turn fully red because the grape skins are removed from the juice just hours after contact.

This brief contact with the grape skins gives the wine a pink color from the slight transfer of red pigments from the skins. Rosés can also be made by blending white and red grapes.

This brief skin contact also ensures that a minimum amount of tannin enters the wine. Many rosés are sweet, with Merlot Blanc and Zinfandel Blanc being excellent examples.

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  • Red wines

Red wines, on the other hand, are made from black grapes and have a red tint.

Most grapes have a colorless juice. So to make red wine, the grape skins that contain the grape pigmentation must remain intact with the juice during all or part of the fermentation process .

The tannins found in the grape skins are transferred into the wine when the skins are in contact with the juice.

Besides the difference in color, the main difference between red wines and others comes from tannins .

These provide a dry tingling sensation in the mouth and in the back of the throat. This is called astringency. Tannins also help preserve wine , allowing most (but not all) red wines to age longer than whites.

Other elements that set reds apart are: their higher alcohol content, their greater body, their different aromatic profile and their greater complexity.

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A product on all continents

It is its particularities and its cultural facilities that are worth to this wine a large production and consumption in the world. Today, its production is done on all continents .

In Africa, South Africa, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are major producers .

The United States, Canada and Mexico also produce red wine. South America and Asia are not to be outdone with considerable production. In Oceania, Australia is a serious producer, followed by New Zealand.


In terms of its consumption, Europe and North America come first.

In the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Switzerland, it represents more than half of total wine consumption. This is also the case in Canada, even if there are some disparities in certain parts of the territory.

Thus, this wine gains market share over other types of wine even in countries where it was not very widespread .

Nevertheless, consumers' choice of this wine very often depends on its different variants, which are determined by the red grape variety(ies) used in the production.

Also read this article on "how to choose a red wine "


Types or grape varieties of red wine

Soil characteristics, climates, and the origin of a grape variety can affect the body or mouthfeel of a red wine .

The body is affected by several factors , the most important being alcohol content and tannins.

Alcohol content affects wine viscosity, with light reds showing lower alcohol content, while full-bodied reds have a thicker, bolder mouthfeel with higher alcohol content.

Meanwhile, tannins, which are found in the skin, seeds, and stem of the plant, give color and bitterness to wine .

Tannins also cause a drying effect on the tip of the tongue (not to be confused with the level of dryness, which is a measure of the sweetness of wine).

In addition, the differences between the grape varieties will significantly affect the food and wine pairings.

Anyway, the kinds of red wine vary according to the following main grape varieties.


  • Cabernet Franc

Origin and climate: A cool, temperate climate variety from the Loire Valley. It is also widely grown internationally, in Italy, Hungary, Spain, USA, New Zealand, Canada and many other cool climate regions.

Color: A deep, solid red that varies greatly from region to region in terms of darkness.

Flavor profile: Red and black fruits, underlined by hints of green herbs and pepper.

Food Pairings : Higher acidity and lower bitterness make this wine pair well with grilled meats, roasted tomato dishes, earthy vegetables and cheeses.

Comment: It is very often used in blends for the greatest Bordeaux blends .
It originated in the 17th century, and is linked to the famous Cardinal Richelieu. Research in the late 1990s revealed that it was at one time crossed with Sauvignon Blanc, producing the now popular Cabernet Sauvignon.
It gives a wine more pronounced in flavor and taste than Cabernet Sauvignon, with a nose of green herbs. It is the only grape variety in the Bourgueil, Chinon and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil appellations.


  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin and climate: it grows in hot climates, and is native to Bordeaux. It is grown in France, California, Chile, South Africa and Argentina.

Colour: A purplish red with a darker spectrum.

Flavor Profile: Dark fruits, such as blackberry and cassis, with dried herbs and tobacco undertones.

Food and wine pairings: Roasted or grilled red meat, tomato sauce, stews.

Comment: A hybrid between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, this variety dates back to the 18th century, when it enjoyed great popularity.
It is the soul of the Bordeaux Grands Crus, giving long-lasting, intense, powerful wines whose complexity is revealed after a few years of aging.
Its color, aromas and tannins can be remarkable when ripe. It can be associated with Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and has a great international reputation.


  • Gamay

Origin and climate: cool-climate grape variety native to Burgundy, also grown in Switzerland, Canada and Turkey.

Colour: Light red, slightly purplish.

Flavor Profile: It's rather light and fruity , with hints of cassis and raspberry. Light body that allows a good feeling in the mouth.

Food and wine pairing : A high acidity and a low level of tannin make this wine go well with an extremely diversified variety of foods: white meats, charcuterie, less marbled meats...

Comment: by its full name “Gamay noir à jus blanc”, it is less known than its cousin (Pinot Noir) but appreciated for its flavors of red fruits and its freshness.
Mainly grown in Beaujolais, it alone produces the ten Crus of this appellation.


  • Pinot Noir

Origin and Climate: It dates back to Roman times and excels in cool to medium climates. Mainly grown in Savoie, the Loire Valley and Alsace, it also excels in the United States, Germany, New Zealand, Italy and Australia.

Colour: A bright, vibrant red, among the lightest red wine varieties.

Flavor Profile: A complex blend of red berries with undertones of clove and licorice, as well as distinct hints of rose or anise when young. After a few years, it expresses notes of spices, undergrowth and leather.

Food and wine pairings: Goat cheese, white meat, hazelnuts, stewed beef, mushroom preparations and creamy cheeses.

Comment: With its thin skin, it is a very sensitive variety and often difficult to cultivate.
Its aromatic complexity is what most fascinates oenologists. It produces complex wines with a wide range of possible flavors, which makes its popularity quite understandable.


• Malbec

Origin and Climate: A hot weather variety native to the Quercy region, and well known for its preponderance in Argentina. It is grown in Bordeaux, Cahors, in the Loire Valley and in Chile.

Color: A dark red purple.

Flavor Profile: A complex, fruity character, with hints of blackberry and dark cherry. It also includes a blend of herbal and spicy aromas when grown in cooler climates. It tends to have a rich, round texture.

Food pairing: Given its popularity in Argentina, it pairs well with grilled red meats and hard cheeses.

Comment: Despite its French origins, a more interesting part of its history lies in the 1800s in Argentina. The original "cultivar" had mostly disappeared from its native France after an epidemic.
However, thanks to government intervention, it found a new home in Argentina, where it not only survived, but thrived, achieving great commercial success.
It is now commonly considered an Argentinian wine of French origin. It is the main grape variety in Cahors, giving dense and robust wines.


  • Merlot

Origin and climate: grown in hot and cold climates, it gives a wide range of flavors. It is most common in Bordeaux, the southwest, Languedoc, Italy and California.

Colour: ruby ​​red to purplish.

Flavor Profile: It is one of the few varietals grown in both cool and warm climates. It is fruity, giving wines with licorice flavors in cool climates, and sweet and fruity mocha flavors in warm climates.

Food Pairings: Medium-bodied with medium acidity and medium tannins, it pairs well with lightly seasoned red meats, vegetables and cheeses.

Comment: The word "Merlot" in oenology appeared in 1784, as a positive description of taste. Its fruit was often eaten ripe, due to its delicious flavor.
It's no surprise that it's one of the most popular and planted varieties in the world.


  • Syrah

Origin and climate: Variety that appreciates hot regions, which finds its roots in the Rhône Valley. It is grown in the southern Côtes du Rhône and Languedoc, as well as in Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa and the United States.

Color: It gives the deepest and darkest red wines, approaching the darkest areas of the color spectrum.

Flavor Profile: A strong undertone of dark fruit, followed by a peppery, spicy finish.

Food and wine pairings: With a medium tannin content and acidity, with a bold expression, Syrah goes well with foods that are equally fatty, but not spicy. It pairs well with grilled red meat and creamy cheeses.

Comment: DNA tests carried out in 1998 proved that it was a genetic hybrid of two rare grape varieties: Mondeuse Blanche and Dureza.
It is the only grape variety in the Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Saint-Joseph and Côte-Rôtie appellations.

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