Starting out in the world of red wines shouldn’t be intimidating. In fact, drinking red wine is fun, especially when you learn how to choose the right ones. But which red wines are the right ones, you may ask? The answer to this question is quite simple. The right wines for you are the ones that taste good to you. The ones you enjoy and would be happy to drink again. It doesn’t matter what your friends say, the wine expert critics, or what the waiter at the restaurant suggests – every person’s palate is unique and there are no general rules.
Still, there are some guidelines that can be helpful to follow when you’re still getting to know the world of wine. Wine beginners tend to prefer wines with low tannin (which means a smooth wine), straightforward fruit flavours, and moderate acidity, as they are generally the easiest ones to drink. As you try different wines, you’ll learn more about what you like and dislike.
To kick start your journey through the red wine world, here are the best reds for you to try.
Cabernet Sauvignon is the entry point to red wines because it is the most widely planted red grape. Although Cabernet Sauvignon carries the unique mark of the region it was produced in, there is a core of consistent notes present in the wines from all regions. The typical characteristics of this wine are aromatics and fruit. This makes Cabernet wine readily identifiable to all wine enthusiasts.
Wondering what kind of wine is Cabernet Sauvignon? Cabernet Sauvignon is classified as a dry wine, which means it has no residual sugar and tends to cause a puckering sensation in the mouth. However, once you started dabbling in this world, you’ll find various Cabernet Sauvignon wine options on the market.
Some will be sumptuous and fruity while others savoury and smoky. It all depends on where the Cabernet Sauvignon grape grows and how it is made into wine. For example, in Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon’s tasting notes are white pepper, black plum, currant candy, bay leaf and chocolate. The Coonawarra region in South Australia along with Langhorne Creek are well known for their exceptional and unique expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. These regions are characterized by their warm climate and red clay soils with high iron-oxide content. These features give the wine ample depth and powerful tannins with distinctive notes of a bay leaf or white pepper.
Plus, Cabernet Sauvignon is a versatile wine that pairs well with different foods. The robustness and flavour profile of this wine allows it to stand up well against rich and complex dishes like a ragout. Red meat is a natural match for it. Braised beef, tagliata or a venison all go well with it, but a simple steak is all you need for pairing perfection. Consider placing your Cabernet on an insulated flask when taking it to a barbecue party to keep it at the perfect chilled temperature.
Red wines can get a bad rap when dieting, but cabernet may not be a problem as long as you avoid fortified Cabernets as they tend to contain added sugar, hence added calories. If you are interested to know how many calories in a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon wine, it’s is about 120 calories.
If you really enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon, consider trying a Merlot next. Merlot and Cabernet wines are very similar, except for the fact that Merlot is often more affordable. Aside from the price, Merlot is generally appreciated for its flavours of plum, black cherry and vanilla. If you enjoy drinking Merlot too, you should feel confident about making the leap to more embodied red wines.
You can drink Merlot with a range of Italian dishes, especially tomato-based ones, and it responds very well to the deeply savoury tastes you get in foods such as mushrooms, roast chicken and parmesan.
The herbal notes and medium to low tanning, make Pinot Noir an easy wine to approach. It can also vary depending on where it’s made – some varieties are more fruity while others are more earthy. Take notes of the region where your bottle of Pinot comes from and try comparing one from Australia and one from France.
Fine and subtly charming, Pinot Noir pairs well with various dishes – from simple kebab to a refined dish of duck breast with pomegranate. On the palate, it is traditionally medium-bodied, elegant, agile, with good freshness, moderate alcohol and silky tannins. These characteristics make Pinot Noir an excellent option to accompany white meat roasts, but also fish fillets. Pinot Noir wine can cut fat and create a link with many foods without covering even the most delicate flavours. This means you shouldn’t choose too elaborate or rich dishes and avoid the spicy that would burn off its discreet charm.
This wine has become quite popular in the last few years and for some good reasons. Australian Shiraz is exceptionally smooth on the palate, which means it gives modern-wine drinkers what they’ve been asking for. It bursts with body and fizzes with mouth-watering, rich, dark fruits. What makes this wine a great option for beginners is that it totally fulfils the criteria of value, availability, smoothness and fruitiness.
Because Australian Shiraz is typically sweeter and riper than European-style syrah or syrah blends, it pairs better with French food or Italian dishes. Think big flavours and spice.