The wine world can be seen as obscure and difficult to understand, intimidating to those new to it.
With all the different kinds of wine, grapes, and production methods, it’s no wonder people can feel overwhelmed when trying to pick out a bottle.
Tastes also differ depending on each palate, so what might be an excellent wine for one person might not be the favorite. However, some red wines stand out and are universally loved for their taste.
Don’t worry; we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll explain what is a great tasting red wine and provide some recommendations for you to try. So you never again feel helpless in front of all the choices at the wine store.
The 4 factors that make a great tasting red wine
So what makes a good red wine? Many factors contribute, but we’ll focus on three key elements: the grape variety, the terroir, and the winemaking process.
1. The grape variety
Many different grape varieties are used for red wine, but some stand out above the rest. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are all popular choices because they have a strong flavor that pairs well with food.
The type of grape used will influence the taste, aroma, and color of the wine. Some appreciated types of grapes include:
- Cabernet Sauvignon: A full-bodied grape with solid blackberry, cassis, and mint flavors.
- Merlot: A smooth and velvety grape with black cherry, chocolate, and coffee flavors.
- Pinot Noir: A light-bodied grape with delicate strawberry, cherry, and raspberry flavors.
2. The terroir
The terroir is the unique combination of climate and soil that gives each wine region its own distinct flavor. For red wines, areas like Bordeaux, Tuscany, and Rioja are known for their earthy, spicy flavors.
Southern France and California, for example, are known for their ripe, fruit-forward wines. Learn more here what is a good French red wine.
California’s central coast is perfect for growing Pinot Noir grapes, which is why this region producing wine is known for producing some of the best examples of this varietal.
Soils like clay and limestone are ideal for red wine grapes because they retain moisture and nutrients well. This is why red wines from Bordeaux, which has clay-based soil, are some of the most highly prized in the world.
Climates like warm and sunny are also ideal for red wine grapes. This is because the grape skins thicken in response to the heat, which concentrates the flavors in the grape.
3. The winemaking process
How wine is made can also affect its flavor. Some winemakers prefer to use traditional methods like barrel-aging, while others use modern techniques like stainless steel aging.
Barrel-aging can add tannins and a woody flavor to the wine. At the same time, stainless steel aging preserves the grape’s fruitiness.
Oak aging is a common practice for red wine, as it can help soften the tannins and add complexity to the flavor.
The winemaker’s choices will also influence the taste of the wine. Some prefer a more fruit-forward style, while others prefer a more earthy flavor.
Cellar temperature is also something to consider when choosing a red wine.
Wines at cellar temperature (55 degrees Fahrenheit/13 degrees Celsius) will have more pronounced flavors than wines stored at a warmer temperature (65 degrees Fahrenheit/18,5 degrees Celsius).
The different aromas you could find in a red wine
Once you know what to look for, you’ll start to notice that different red wines have different aromas.
- Cedar is often found in wines from Bordeaux.
- Spicy aromas like cloves, anise, and pepper can be found in wines from Rhône Valley.
- Herbal and dried herbs aromas like thyme, rosemary, and sage are often present in Tuscan wines.
- In Californian wines, there are aromas like strawberries, raspberries, black cherries, and blueberries.
- Black pepper, sweet tobacco, and leather are common in wines from Argentina.
- Blood orange, lavender, and eucalyptus are typical in Australian wines.
- Red fruits, cocoa, and vanilla are common in Chilean wines.
- Black tea, earth, and dark fruits are typical in Indian wines.
- Raisins, nuts, and caramel are ordinary in Spanish wines.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a wine with the aromas you enjoy eating.
For example, if you love spicy food, then choose a wine with peppery notes. On the other hand, if you prefer sweet desserts, go for a wine with intense cherry flavors.
A balanced combination of aromas is the answer to your question about what is a good French red wine.
What are the tannins?
Tannins are a compound found in red wine that gives it its characteristic dry, puckering taste. They’re also responsible for the wine’s ability to age well.
Tannins are derived from the grape skins, seeds, and stems, so the longer the wine is in contact with them, the more tannins will be extracted. This is why barrel-aging is often used for red wine.
Tannins can also be added to wine by using a grape extract called Mega Purple. This additive is used to make cheap wines taste more expensive.
Firm tannins can make a wine taste dry and astringent, while softer tannins can give the wine a smoother mouthfeel. Many drinkers prized Silky tannins for their ability to make wine feel velvety on the palate.
Structured tannins are essential for red wines meant to be aged, as they help support the wine’s structure over time.
Great wines are usually well-balanced, with enough acidity to offset the tannins. This balance is what makes a wine age-worthy.
How to taste a red wine
Now that you know what makes a great-tasting red wine, it’s time to learn how to taste it.
The first thing you’ll want to do is swirl the wine around in your glass to release its aromas.
Then, take a sip and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds before swallowing. This will give you time to taste the different flavors and aromas.
Finally, exhale through your nose to get the whole experience. This is known as retronasal tasting, and it’s one of the best ways to appreciate a wine’s flavor profile.
The 4 big mistakes you should avoid with a bottle of red wine
Making these four mistakes will definitely ruin your wine experience.
1. Not giving the wine enough time to breathe.
When you first open a bottle of red wine, it’s essential to give it some time to breathe. This allows the wine to oxidize and opens up its aromas and flavors.
If you don’t have time to wait, pour the wine into a decanter or carafe and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
2. Serving the wine too warm or too cold
Serving temperature is essential when it comes to red wine.
If the wine is too warm, it will taste flat and alcoholic. If it’s too cold, the flavors will be muted, and you won’t be able to taste much.
3. Ignoring the vintage
Just because a wine is expensive doesn’t mean it will taste good. Vintage wines are those that were made from grapes that were harvested in a particular year.
The quality of the wine will depend on the weather conditions during that year.
4. Buying based on price
This is probably the worst mistake you can make when choosing a bottle of red wine. It’s always best to buy a wine that you know you’ll enjoy, regardless of the price.
Now that you know what to look for in a great-tasting red wine, it’s time to start tasting them for yourself.
Remember to pay attention to the wine’s aroma, flavor, acidity, tannins, and structure. And don’t forget to serve it at the proper temperature. This is what is a great tasting red wine.
If you only want to know more about red wine, here is our Red Wine: The Complete Beginner’s Guide.
Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the experience! Wine degustation is about pleasure, don’t overthink it!
What is considered a good red wine?
There is no one answer to this question, as taste is subjective. However, a few things can make a bottle of red wine more enjoyable for most people.
A great-tasting red wine typically has a fruity flavor, is not too dry, and has moderate alcohol content.
Which red wine is easiest to drink?
Again, there is no one correct answer to this question. However, fruity red wine and not too dry will typically be more drinkable for most people.
Additionally, red wine with a moderate alcohol content will also be easier to drink.
What is the fruitiest red wine?
Some of the most popular fruity red wines include Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. These wines typically have a cherry or berry flavor, which many people find enjoyable.
Which is the best red wine for ladies?
Again, there is no one definitive answer to this question. However, most ladies seem to prefer fruity red wines and not too dry, with moderate alcohol content.
Additionally, many ladies enjoy light-bodied red wines.