Wine Basics: A beginner’s guide to Red Wine

Two glasses of red wine will never taste the same. Wine is intimidating, and even if you must have tasted dozens of red wines, you may still not understand a lot about it.

Wish to be an expert who understands the varied varieties of red wines and what food they pair the well with? Then we make this overwhelming task easy for you. 

Read through all the red wine details that can let you throw your wine party with complete confidence.

History

The production of early wine transcended from various countries and nations. It is believed that the production of red wine started in Georgia in the Caucasus region. It simultaneously started to be produced in Iran at around the same time, in 6000BC. 

The ancient Egyptians had left behind the detailed winemaking process in paintings that they created on the tomb walls. Vineyards were established, and grapes were cultivated by the Greeks, Babylonians, and the Romans.

How is Red wine made?

Red wine is made using red grapes, which is why the wine variety has a reddish shade. The stems of the grapes are first removed, and once it is destemmed, these are pressed with its seed and the skin is removed either by stomping with the feet or in the machine. The juice is then fermented with sulfur dioxide, and after that the winemaker can then place the juice in the oak barrel if he wants an oaked red wine. If not, all he needs to do is bottle the wine immediately after it gets fermented.

Types of red wine
Here are some of the common kinds of red wine.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
    It is one of the most popular red wine varieties globally and is produced in the Napa Valley and Bordeaux. The wine has plum, black cherry, a dark berry flavor, and vanilla, herb, cedar, mint, and oak. The region where the grapes are planted also decides the tannin level in the wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied wine and tastes the best with hearty and heavy dishes like beef steaks and heavy cheeses.
  • Cabernet Franc
    This is a less distinctive variety of red wine, and it is usually mixed with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to create a world-class wine. However, the wine also tastes good on its own. The wine is made using black grapes, which gives it a strong grapy flavor and a strong pepper note. One can also taste tobacco, raspberry, and bell pepper waft. The ripe tannin of the wine tastes perfect with red sauce pasta.
  • Merlot
    The Merlot is a popular wine from the Bordeaux region, and it is planted in Washington and California. It is soft and plump and has a fruity flavor with tinges of cherry. The wine is full-bodied and has a cherry-like flavor. These are the best wines from Washington. The Merlot has a mild and soft flavor, and this makes it ideal to have with burgers, beef, vegetables, and pork.
  • Pinot Noir
    The Pinot Noir is made with grapes from Oregon, Burgundy, and California, and other regions. The best variety, however, comes from Burgundy in France. The wine has a silky and smooth taste with hints of blackberry, tomato leaf, beetroot, and plum that makes the wine versatile. It can be paired with tuna, salmon, meats, and poultry dishes.

Pairing suggestions
Here are some of the popular wine pairing suggestions:

  • Burgundy and Beef Bourguignon 
  • Cabernet Sauvignon and Steak 
  • Stilton and Port 
  • Malbec and Burger 
  • Sangiovese and Red Sauce

Aging red wine

Some red wines have a natural trait of tannin and acidity. The wine’s natural taste improves with time, which is why some wine varieties taste better when they age. Here is a general guideline on how long you should store the different wines.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon needs 7-10 years, which is the ideal length of time for which this red wine should age to bring out its actual flavor.
  • Merlot- 3-5 years is the ideal time for the Merlot wine to age when the wine becomes soft and smoky when they age.
  • Pinot Noir tastes the best when it is left to age for 5 years
  • Sangiovese tastes best when kept for 18 months to 2 years. The wine has a spicy acidity and produces a sweet figgy note when it mellows down
  • Chardonnay has an ideal aging time of 2-3 years, but it tastes best when kept longer for 5-7 years
  • Riesling is best left for 3-5 years to bring out its actual flavors.

It is a typical mindset among the wine drinkers that the reds should be stored to increase their flavor. This rule, however, cannot be applied universally to all red wine varieties. It is essential to know which wines taste best when young and which when they age. It also comes down to your palate and the conditions under which you leave the red wine to age.

Storing of red wine can be done on a wine rack in a cellar, or for some varieties the use of a wine fridge or cellar is recommended.

FAQs

How long does red wine last once it is opened?

How the wine is stored, its acidity and tannin levels decide how long the red wine will last once opened. If the red wine has more acidity and tannin, then it will last longer after opening it. A light red wine with little tannin will last not more than 3 to 5 days if stored in a cool place and with a cork.

How many calories does a bottle of red wine have?

A 750ml bottle of red wine will, on average, add 625 calories. The calorie content is again dependent on the variety of wine and the sweetness that it contains.

Conclusion

Meander through the vineyards, and you will soon come to understand the differences between the various varieties and types of red wines. The more you explore the world of red wines, you slowly start to understand the red wine flavor you have fallen for.