BEST RED WINE FOR BEGINNERS
Red wines are popular around the world, from the rich Zinfandels of California to the sweet Shirazs of the Outback. Many beginners, however, are apprehensive about getting into reds due to their complexity.
Although no two red wines are quite the same, they get their color and flavor from grape skins during the fermentation process. They tend to have higher tannin levels than other wines, giving reds their distinctive taste.
Thanks to their tannin levels, red wines are considered to be healthier than their white or rosé counterparts. They also contain high levels of other antioxidants.
Although red wines often have a rich, full-bodied flavor, there is a considerable variation in taste and texture among the different styles. Experts tend to prefer heavy, complex reds, but novices may seek out a lighter sweet red wine for beginners instead.
Many of those who are new to the world of wine wonder: What is the best red wine for beginners? To figure out what type of red wine is best for you, it’s best to branch out and try the different styles available.
HOW IS RED WINE MADE?
Red wines are typically made from red or black grapes. Unlike white wines, the skin of the grapes is left on during the fermentation process, giving reds their signature color.
When skins are left in contact with wine during the fermentation process, it allows the color to penetrate the juice while also releasing tannins. As a result, red wines tend to have a lower sugar content than other types, giving them a dry yet complex taste.
The hue of a wine depends both on the color and varietal of grape used as well as how long their skin remains a part of the winemaking procedure. Red wines range from almost a rosé color to deep violet.
TYPES OF RED WINE
There are many different varieties of red wine that differ in both body and flavor. Body refers to the viscosity and texture of wine and is heavily dependent on tannins.
Light-bodied wines contain few tannins and are smooth and subtle, and medium-bodied wines have a slightly more complex taste. Full-bodied wines have the highest tannin levels and a rich, robust body.
Red wines also differ in their sugar content. When grape varietals are left on the vine longer, water evaporates and raises the sugar content, creating a sweet wine. Though reds tend to be dry, some of the best red wines for beginners are sweet and light on the palate.
Although Pinot Noir grapes grow in cool climates across the globe, the Burgundy region of France is the most famous producer of fine Pinots worldwide.
Pinot Noirs typically have a light to medium body, depending on the winemaker, as well as low tannin levels. Most have a crisp, acidic flavor with notes of berries such as cherries, raspberries and cranberries.
Due to their light, fruity nature, Pinot Noirs pair well with white meats such as fish and roast chicken. Heavier Pinot, like other red wines, tastes better alongside red meat and game meats.
SYRAH AND SHIRAZ
Australia is world-famous for its Syrah and Shiraz, though France and the U.S. are also notable producers. Both wines come from the Shiraz grape but are produced differently to create unique flavor profiles.
In general, Syrah tends to be full-bodied, with an earthy, complex flavor. Shiraz is a little bit lighter, with a crisp, fruity taste that includes notes of berry. It’s an excellent sweet red wine for beginners.
Both Syrah and Shiraz go well with hearty foods and smoky flavors. Being lighter and sweeter, however, Shiraz also pairs well with lighter meats and cheeses.
Thanks to its high levels of tannins, Cabernets are rich and full-bodied, but not too complicated for a beginner to red wines.
Most Cabernet Sauvignon boasts hints of herbs and vanilla. Those aged in oak have a smoky flavor to them.
Typically, people drink Cabernet Sauvignon alongside steak, burgers, or other red meats. It also pairs well with cheese, mushrooms, and other savory foods rich in umami flavor.
Many Zinfandels are produced in California. They’re characterized by a rich, bold flavor with notes of spices such as pepper and cinnamon. Some people report a tingling mouthfeel.
Zinfandel has a high alcohol content because the fruit is allowed to ripen on the vine before being picked. In general, wine experts recommend choosing a Zinfandel with an alcohol content of at least 15 percent.
Zinfandels pair well with most red meat. They go exceptionally well with smoky flavors, such as grilled or barbecued meals.
BUYING RED WINE
There is a wide variety when it comes to wine, making it a challenge to choose the best red wine for beginners. When buying red wine, it’s a good idea not only to look at body and flavor but factors such as acidity, sugar and alcohol content for pairing ideas.
More acidic reds such as Pinot Noir and Zinfandels pair well with rich foods such as red meat. With tart foods, such as those with citrus flavors, it’s best to look for a wine with low acidity.
Sweet red wines, like most sweet styles, tend to go well with desserts. Sweet wines, however, also pair well with savory foods. The sugar can help tone down spices in hot dishes and complements salty foods well.
The alcohol content is what gives a wine its texture, with high-alcohol wines having a heavier mouthfeel than others. These reds tend to pair well with similarly complex dishes, as otherwise, they overpower the flavor of the meal.
HOW TO DRINK RED WINE FOR BEGINNERS
There’s a common misconception that good red wine should be drunk at room temperature to bring out the most flavor. While it’s true that chilling reds stunts flavor, a red wine that’s served too warm will taste strongly of alcohol.
The best red wine for beginners should be served at about 60 °F (16 °C), which is slightly lower than room temperature. Wine enthusiasts can find specialized wine fridges designed to store reds at the optimal temperature.
Oxygenation also helps to bring out the complex flavors of red wine. Pouring from a decanter instead of from the bottle helps to let a wine breathe. Doing so allows more of it to come into contact with the air.
It’s best to serve red wines from a specially designed glass. Red wine glasses are shorter and more stout than those for white wine for better aeration.