Red wine varieties seem endless, so it's hard to choose the best of the best. We put together a list of the seven best red wines based on their popularity in the US. This list includes three honorable mentions as well so that no one hoping to step into the red wine world goes without something to try.
Seven Best Types Of Red Wines
There are seemingly hundreds upon hundreds of red wines on the market today, and every one is made with different grapes and with different aging requirements. For wine novices and lovers alike, it can be difficult to choose the best of the best when it comes to these delicious varieties.
We have put together a list of the seven best red wine varieties on the market based on popularity alone. The nuances of wine make it challenging to choose the best, so we thought a good ol' popularity contest was to discover those wines that truly stand the test of time and taste buds.
As you read on, we will discuss each of our picks in detail to give you an idea of which one you may want to try next and to tell you why the variety made our "best of" list. Feel free to grab a bottle of each and taste along as we dig into the seven best types of red wines.
Syrah Or Shiraz
Red Wine Facts To Know
Red wine has many health benefits, and often we have heard that it is better to drink a glass of red wine every day than not to drink at all. This is largely due to the tannins within the wine, which bring out antioxidants that can help to reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
Regarding health, young reds are better for you than older red wines. The reason for this is because the tannin levels in older wines are far less than those in younger varieties. So although some wines taste better with age, the health benefits of those wines are diminished. It's a trade-off in the end.
The color of the wine you're drinking comes from the color of the grape's skin used in making that wine. However, over time, red wine will lighten in color regardless of the variety. Old wines are often quite pale as compared to their younger counterparts.
If you are worried about sulfites in your wine, we are here to ease your mind. Red wines contain fewer sulfites than white wines. Fewer sulfites generally mean there is more chemical stability found in red wines versus white, and the fact that red wines do not degrade as quickly.
Red Wine Facts To Know
Now that you're caught up on some crucial red wine facts, we will get into the meat of our information. Which red wines truly reign supreme in the United States and across the globe? Below we have our list of the seven best red wines based on popularity alone.
Although the cab, as it's affectionately called, was originally brewed from a type of black wine grape in the Bordeaux region of France, it now grows in almost every major wine region in the world. The grapes in this wine are used both for making a single varietal and as a blending component in other wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon is deep in color and does not allow much if any, light to permeate it. It is also often associated with oak, which is the type of barrel. This wine rests in for several years at a time. The use of the oak barrel helps to soften the tannins, which can often be harsh in this variety at first.
Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most popular red wine in the world. It pairs well with steaks, burgers, and other red meats, as well as with stinky cheeses. It is also a popular complement to dark chocolates and other bittersweet desserts.
The Merlot grape is the second most popular red grape in the US. In French, merlot means "little blackbird." Many wine drinkers recommend merlot to those who are new to red wine as an excellent first step into reds. In the US, Merlot grapes primarily grow in California, Washington state, and New York.
Merlots are easy drinking wines. They are great to drink alone or to pair with foods. They are noted for their plum and chocolate tones and are very smooth wines. The best food pairings for a merlot will still lean toward red meats like prime rib and cheeses, especially sharp cheddars and blue.
Merlot grapes are resilient in the heat and therefore can withstand the temperatures in warm climates like Australia, California, and Italy. They can be used for their variety of wine or can be mixed by winemakers into blends. It is especially popular to mix Merlot grapes with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes for red blends.
Pinot noir is an incredibly approachable wine that isn't too dry but doesn't have the sweetness of other varieties. It is one of the most popular red wines in the world because of its accessibility and its ease of drinking. Originally made in Burgundy, this wine now has a global range.
Pinot noir has tones of fruits such as strawberries, cherries, and blackberry. They also often have what wine aficionados call earth tones, which consist of warm spices, leather, mushrooms, and tobacco. The earthy layers are often described as under layers to the fruity pinot, rather than the dominating characteristics.
Pinot noir pairs well with lighter meats like chicken or pork, as well as bacon, mushrooms, wild game, and fish. Pinot noir may be a good choice if you are looking for a great red pairing for a light pasta dish like an Alfredo as well.
Syrah Or Shiraz
For starters, it's important to note that Syrah and Shiraz are the same wine. The only time you'll see or hear Syrah referred to as Shiraz is if it is made in Australia. There was a bit of a pronunciation issue when Syrah arrived in Australia, and that led to the unique double name of this wine.
Syrah is darker than cabernet sauvignon, making it one of the darkest red wines available. It has a heavy feel and a large number of tannins and is often described as having flavors like berry, pepper, smoked meat, and tobacco. Sometimes you will also get notes of vanilla and spices in a Syrah.
Due to the high number of tannins, Syrah wines contain the highest amount of antioxidants of any wine grape varietal, which means you can drink it almost guilt free. It pairs well with sausage, mushrooms, and barbeque, but can also stand on its own without pairing.
Malbec is a crowd-pleasing wine with a unique history that has only recently skyrocketed to popularity in the US. Malbec grapes were originally grown in France, but easily rotted in that climate, and were therefore not planted as often or in as great a space as other grapes. They were used only to blend with other wine grapes.
In the 19th century, Argentine winemakers asked a French agronomist what grape they should plant to improve the quality of their wine, and he suggested the Malbec. It was clear that the Malbec was meant for the climate in Argentina much more than that of France because it flourished in the heat and high-altitude.
It took until the last decade or so for the Malbec to infiltrate the hearts of the US, though. When the economy got rocky in the early 2000s, wine drinkers went out in search of a cheaper, but easy to drink wine. The found the Malbec, and word-of-mouth helped its popularity to increase throughout the country.
Malbecs still aren't popular in restaurants, but you'll find them in many homes, especially during parties when hosts look for wine that will please the whole group. They pair well with beef and lamb, and share many characteristics with Merlot, aside from added acidity and a hint of spice.
If you were waiting for a wine that America made famous, look no further than the Zinfandel. California winemakers make zinfandel grapes a staple in their red wines, and pure zinfandel reds have the highest alcohol content you can find on the red wine market.
Zinfandel is defined by its fruity characters, which are often described as jam-like. Because of their flavor and beautiful deep, rich red coloring, zinfandel grapes are used to produce a wide variety of wine styles. You may find notes of Eucalyptus, cherry, or cinnamon in zinfandel wines.
Zinfandels pair well with simple, easy to eat foods like pizza, turkey, burgers, and Mexican dishes. Because of its flavor profile, this is a wine that is a natural step for red wine novices or those who are looking for a laid-back wine to drink at a summer barbeque.
Tempranillo is the number one wine grape in Spain. It's not like your average reds, and that's what has spiked its popularity over time. The flavors in a Tempranillo change over time from fruity and fresh young wine to tones of leather, dust, and tobacco as the wine ages in oak barrels.
Tempranillo is dominated by flavors of plum, cherry, cedar, tobacco, dried fig, and even dill. You'll find darker fruit and deeper flavors as the wine ages. This is a wine that can be paired with a diverse array of foods from Paella to charcuterie and from risotto to Mexican dishes. It depends on the age of the wine when consumed.
Tempranillo translates literally to "little early one," which is fitting since it ripens sooner than most other Spanish grapes. It is known under many other names in other countries, so you may be drinking Tempranillo without being aware of it.
As we said in the beginning, picking the best red wines in the world is a difficult job. Everyone has different tastes, and not every palate will enjoy the mostly dry selection that we have compiled here. To make up for that, we thought we would add in an honorable mention category full of sweeter, lighter reds.
Brachetto De’ Acqui
This variety of wine is created exclusively in Piedmont, Italy. Brachetto de’ Acqui is light ruby in color and smells of cherry, raspberry, and violet. It comes in three varieties:
Rosso; a slightly fizzy and low alcohol content wine
Spumante; a full sparkling variety with a slightly higher alcohol content
Passito; a rich and sweet variety with the most alcohol content of the three
This is a grouping of up to 10 or so different grape varieties rather than a single variety, as had been our focus earlier on. It comes in a wide range from dry, known as Secco to sweet, known as Dolce and can also range in color from a light ruby to a darker purple. It has notes of blueberry, violet, and red currant.
A nice dessert wine, Ruby Port has a higher alcohol content than the previous two on this list. It is a fortified wine; distilled grape spirits are added to the wine about halfway through the fermentation process makes it. The timing of this fortification stops the fermentation and kills the yeast, leaving behind yummy sugar.
Best Overall Red Wine
We've talked about ten different red wines today, but we didn't want to leave you wondering which wine was the true winner of the best wine battle. Cabernet Sauvignon is the clear winner of this popularity contest, as it is made with the most popular grapes in America, and is a worldwide favorite of sommeliers.
Cabernet Sauvignon is dry, full-bodied, and dark, but for wine lovers, it has all of the right tones of an elegant and beautiful aged red wine. It has remained popular for hundreds of years and doesn't look like it will be falling from grace anytime soon. With all of this information, it seems like an obvious winner to us.