Whether you're looking for a bottle to enjoy with dinner tonight, or want to present the wine aficionado in your life with a great vintage, we offer a look at some of the world's key wine regions, the different types of wine, pairing wine with food, and a handy wine terminology guide. Cheers!
Red wine is produced from red, purple or blue grapes. Its color, however, comes not from the juice (since white wine can also be made from red grapes), but from the juice's contact with red grape skins during the fermentation process.
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While their color varies greatly, red wines don't differ in flavor as much as their white counterparts. But due to the presence of tannins (which also come from the skins), red's flavors tend to be deeper.
Due to its more complex flavor, red wine is typically served at a warmer temperature than white -- but that doesn't necessarily mean that room temperature (which is how many of us serve it) is ideal. Try chilling the bottle for 10 to 15 minutes for maximum enjoyment.
Grapes used to make red wine
Cabernet Sauvignon [cab-er-NAY SO-vin-yon] -- Deemed by many to be the king of red grapes, it is found in many of the world's wine regions. The grapes have an intense blackcurrant flavor, and are often used in blends.
Gamay [ga-MAY] -- This Beaujolais, France native produces light-tasting cherry and raspberry-flavored wines that are best drunk young.
Grenache [greh-NAHSH] -- The second most widely planted grape in the world, the Grenache produces velvety-ripe, fruity wines, especially rosés, famous as part of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend. The grape is also used for blending into a few French and Spanish white wines.
Merlot [mur-LO] -- Currently very popular, this grape is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. It boasts soft, black cherry and blackcurranty flavors.
Pinot Noir [PEE-no NWA] -- A fickle grape to grow, Pinot Noir can sometimes produce fickle wines as well. Good young Pinots are light, with black cherry, spice, raspberry and currant flavors. Mature Pinots often have an intense aroma of game and truffles.
Sangiovese [san-geeo-VEHS-eh] -- Best known for providing the base of many excellent Italian red wines from Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, this grape is also often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, and occasionally Merlot. Typically produces medium- to full-bodied wines.
Syrah/Shiraz [sih-RAH or shih-RAHZ] -- Particularly notable from French and Australian vineyards, this grape produces full-bodied, rich wines that age very well. Syrah wines are also appealing when drunk soon after bottling, and are enjoying a rapidly expanding fan base worldwide.
Tempranillo [temp-rah-NEE-yo] -- Native to Spain, this grape dominates the red wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, two of the country's key wine regions. Wines are medium- to full-bodied with a characteristic strawberry flavor. The Tempranillo grape is also grown along the Douro River in Portugal, under the monikers Tinta Roriz (used in the making of Port) and Tinta Aragonez.
Zinfandel [ZIHN-fan-dell] -- California's most widely planted grape, ZInfandel has a distinctive taste of ripe-berried fruits. It's often used to make white Zinfandel, a slightly sweet, blush-colored wine. True Zinfandel wine, however, is red, and is a California classic. The grape is also used in blends, and is sometimes aged into late-harvest and Port-style wines.