About Red Wines

Red wine is made from red grapes; as most red grapes have juice that is clear, the color of a red wine is the result of skin contact during maceration prior to fermentation.

Red Wine Varietal Groups

These are the main groupings of red grape varietals (or more strictly speaking grape varieties) used in the vast majority of red wine production around the world.

Red Bordeaux Varietals
Bordeaux varietals is a term used to describe wines exclusively produced of the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and Petit Verdot grapes. These wines can either be produced from 100% of a single varietal or a blend of 2 or even all 5 varietals. Carménère is sometimes also considered amongst the Bordeaux varietals, but most often this group is limited to just the 5 previously mentioned varietals. These varietals were original cultivars of the Bordeaux region of France where they thrived and were later transplanted around the world as far as the US, Argentina, Chile, Australia and New Zealand.

Red Burgundy Varietals
Burgundy varietals is a term used to describe wines produced of the Pinot Noir and Gamay grapes. These wines can either be produced from 100% of a single varietal or a blend. These varietals were original cultivars of the Burgundy region of France where they thrived and were later transplanted around the world.

Red Rhone Varietals
Rhone varietals is a term used to describe wines produced of the Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, and Petite Sirah grapes. These wines can either be produced from 100% of a single varietal or a blend. These varietals were original cultivars of the Rhone region of France where they thrived and were later transplanted around the world. Syrah and Mourvedre tend to be full-bodied, rich, and flavorful reds while Grenache and Carignane tend to the lighter side of the spectrum.

Red Zinfandel
Zinfandel came to American shores by way of the Schonbrunn collection which contained all the wine varietals grown in the Austrian empire. The earliest mention of Zinfandel, by name, in America was a vine nursery in Long Island in the 1820s. It made its way to California in the gold rush and thrived because of its hearty constitution and vigorous yields. Many a prospector had a little vineyard of Zinfandel and washed away their sorrows in their purple cups. As the 19th turned to the 20th century, it thrived as a potent source of table wine (Gallo’s jugs of Hearty Burgundy were made from old vine Zin). Ironically, it was the development of White Zinfandel that saved many of the great old vineyards, which are now yielding world-class wines. The Blush explosion of the seventies meant there was a reason not to rip up Zin for other newly popular grapes.

Red Hybrids
Hybrid wines refer to US wine varietals that are a crossbreeding of European vinifera wine grapes and indigenous American wine grapes that have hearty rootstocks well adapted to the US climate. Chambourcin and Norton are the two most important red hybrid varietals in the US; they are capable of making world-class wines.

Other Reds
This category is reserved for regional varietals and blends that do not fit into other established categories. Examples of varietals included as part of this category are Bonarda, Baco Noir, Primitivo, Frontenac, Blaufrankish (Lemburger) and an endless combination of blends.

Top Picks for Red Wines

Amalthea 2015 Legends Edition Europa I Outer Coastal Plain
97 points
$29.99
Medium dark garnet color. Inviting aromas and flavors of dried sour cherries, beets, carrots and root vegetables baked with fresh herbs in a clay pot, and toffee with a satiny, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, very long chocolate orange peels, creme Anglaise, spiced nuts, and minerals finish with fine, silky tannins and moderate oak. A stunning red blend with cascading waves of savory and ripe flavors and nuances that delight the palate.
97 points $29.99
Shottesbrooke 2013 Reserve Series Eliza Shiraz
97 points
$45.99
Cloudy indigo color. Attractive, roasted, meaty aromas and flavors of mocha maple fudge, smoked nuts, jerky, and toasty cedar and clay with a satiny, dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and a tingling, involved, long blackberry creme brulee, pomegranate-tomato chutney on rye raisin toast, beef consommé, and tamari finish with moderate oak. A decadently delicious and savory shiraz that will stimulate and satisfy.
97 points $45.99
Zonte’s Footstep 2016 Canto Di Lago Sangiovese-Barbera-Lagrein
96 points
$25
Nearly opaque garnet black color. Spicy, exotic aromas and flavors of spicy fennel relish, pomegranate chutney, and eucalyptus with a supple, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a smooth, appealing, medium-long spiced nuts, tomato-citrus compote, peppered amaro, and saffron and alpine herbs finish with dusty, fine tannins and moderate oak. A lovely, spicy and herbaceous red blend that screams for herbed grilled meat.
Bells & Whistles 2014  Limestone Coast
96 points
$35
Ruby black color. Spicy aromas and flavors of menthol-mint, cassia, black raspberry, gooseberry, aniseed, peppercorns, and eucalyptus with a slightly chewy, lively, fruity medium-to-full body and a peppery, subtle, very long orris root, fresh thyme, limestone, and sea salt finish with firm tannins and moderate oak. A knock-out herbal red that highlights the Limestone Coast’s impressive terroir.
Falkner 2014 Amante Super Tuscan Style Red Blend Temecula Valley
96 points
$54.95
Murky dusty garnet color. Aromas of crushed roses, bittersweet chocolate, and terra cotta with a vibrant, dry medium-full body and a layered, long rose hip water, stewed tomato, and clay oven bricks finish with well-integrated, dusty tannins and moderate oak. A stunning Sangiovese driven blend that captures the essence of Tuscany in a California bottle.
Awards: 2017 Top 3 Best US Red Wine
96 points $54.95
FINA 2014  Priorat
96 points
$27
Bright deep purple color. Exotic aromas of rose water, ivory and black olives, black violet and overripe strawberries, and marzipan with a lightly tannic, dryish medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, medium-long mexican mole, silt, cassis and plum fruit leather, and hint of green pepper finish with crunchy tannins and a suggestion of oak. A dark and mysterious Priorat with great aging potential; reminiscent of exotic perfume.
Awards: 2017 Top 2 Best Spanish Red Wine
1270 a vuit 2009  Priorat
96 points
$45
Dark deep purple color. Mature aromas and flavors of wet leaves, apple cider, overripe strawberry, and stone pine with a round, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a smooth, interesting, medium-length granite, grape candy and maraschino cherry, violet, and leather finish with chalky, well-integrated tannins and light oak. A mineral-like textured Priorat with friendly fruit and floral nuances.
Awards: 2017 Top 2 Best Spanish Red Wine
Chateau Moulin de la Rose 2014  St. Julien
96 points
$129
Brown brick red color. Earthy aromas and flavors of cassis and pomegranate, spiced nuts, cocoa, and sandalwood with a supple, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a tingling, intricate, long cedar, earth, and olives finish with earthy, medium tannins and moderate oak. A stately red with treasure chest of flavor and terroir.
Awards: 2017 Best Bordeaux Wine, 2017 Best French Red Wine
Italics 2014 Estate Grown Proprietary Red Wine Coombsville, Napa Valley
96 points
$65
Dark garnet color. Fruity, inviting aromas of blackberry, blueberry, cinnamon, and cocoa powder with a soft, dry medium-to-full body and a warming, interesting, medium-long , and vanilla pudding finish with well-integrated tannins. A supple, velvety Cabernet blend with a lingering finish.
Awards: 2017 Best Bordeaux Varietal Blend, 2017 Top 3 Best US Red Wine
Amalthea 2015 Legends Edition Europa IV Outer Coastal Plain
95 points
$27.99
Medium dark garnet color. Fruity, candied aromas and flavors of strawberry vanilla sundae, chocolate graham crackers and dried blueberries, hint of toasted sage herb bread, and pickled tomato with a satiny, bright, fruity medium body and a graceful, captivating, medium-long chocolate dipped strawberries, spicy black raspberry pie a la mode, melon balls, and nuts finish with soft, fine, dusty tannins and a suggestion of oak. A juicy and harmonious minuet of sweet, savory, and herbal leit motifs that satisfy the senses.
95 points $27.99