Dry Red Wine Types: Learning the Basics




Typically, it is the more “advanced” wine connoisseur that prefers a dry red wine. Dry reds tend to be more robust and definitely much less sweeter than other wines. They go best with meals, as they tend to really help round out the flavors of the overall setting. What makes a wine “dry” is the fact that it has less sugar content than other wines. There are many dry red wine types, and we’ll go over them here for those who want to start delving into them.

The first of the dry red wine types is Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that originated in the Bordeaux region of France but has since spread out into the entire world, with the most notable Cabs being produced in California. Cabernet Sauvignon is known for its strong berry or plum flavors with spicy overtones that often include hints of leather or tobacco. Cabs make great aging wines and their flavor changes-but remain palatable, unlike other wines-throughout. How the Cab will taste depends on when you enjoy it. Early on, it will have much more fruity flavors while in later years these flavors will become more muted but be replaced with a more herbal and spicy character.

The second of the dry red wine types is Zinfandel. Zinfandel is a great table wine hailing originally from the Adriatic Sea area – Italy and Croatia in particular. Today, California produces a lot of the Zinfandel that is circulating out there. Zin is known for its “jammy” flavors of dark cherry and berries. Zins tend to also have hints of black pepper, herbs and spices. There is also a wide variation in the flavors and alcohol levels of many Zinfandels, depending on the varietal, so you’ll have to experiment a lot with them to find what you prefer.

The third of the dry red wine types is Merlot. Merlot is another wine form the Bordeaux region. Merlot is a much-maligned wine due to the fact that it was mass produced and thoroughly watered down in years past. It has a reputation of being “wimpy,” but may serve as an easy gate-opener for those looking to get into dry reds. Merlot is known for its subtle berry and dark cherry flavors, with a herb, chocolate, and leather character.

Last, but certainly not least, of the dry red wine types is Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir hails originally from the Burgundy region in France, but grows all over the world these days. Pinot Noir is great, as its flavor varies widely, depending on where it is grown. Old World Pinots tend to be light-bodies and complex, while New World Pinots tend to be fruit-driven and fuller-bodied. No two Pinots are the same, but you can expect any combination of spices, floral and earthy flavors, herbs, berry, juicy red fruits, and much more. The sky is the limit with Pinots, so the best thing o do is try a few different ones from different regions and see what you like.

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