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

Waving Tree 2009 Estate Nebbiolo
97 points
$80
Brown brick red color. Elegant aromas and flavors of dried cherry, leather, chocolate, chicory, fragrant plum, chess pie, mint, bitter orange, and geranium with a velvety, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, very complex, very long cafe latte, salted caramel, and veal charcuterie finish with well-integrated, silky tannins. A flavor packed, evolving new-world Nebbiolo that will take your dining experience to new heights; drinking beautifully now.
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
Modus Operandi Cellars 2014  Cabernet Sauvignon
96 points
$100
Black violet color. Perfumed aromas of rose petals, marinated mushrooms, crystalized blueberry, fine leather furniture, salumi, pickling spices, and dark chocolate with a round, lively, dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and a warming, massive, very long anise, espresso, and pomegranate molasses finish with heavy oak. An exceptionally dense cabernet that shows elegance over muscle; this wine will age well for decades.
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
Modus Operandi Cellars 2013  Cabernet Sauvignon
95 points
$100
Black violet color. Perfumed aromas and flavors of dried rose petals, asian pear, black olive, vanilla shortbread, strawberry preserves, and lime leaf with a slightly chewy, vibrant, fruity medium-full body and a smooth, nuanced, long gardenia, mocha, cocoa powder, and leather billfold finish with firm tannins and moderate oak. An excellent Napa cab that will develop into show-stopper.
Berton Vineyards 2017 Metal Label Black Shiraz
95 points
$14
Best Buy
Deep purple color. Herbal aromas and flavors of menthol rub, eucalyptus incense, spicy blueberry cobbler, and lemon-thyme rub with a supple, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a smooth, nuanced, long pomegranate-cardamom chutney, cranberry-choke cherry relish, cedar bark, and buckwheat honey finish with crunchy, chewy tannins. A perfectly Oz tribute to St. Joseph, with absolutely pristine acidity and length that reflects the limestone soils, and will age beautifully.
Awards: '2018 World Value Wine Challenge-Top 10 Red Wine $15 and Under' Best Value Australian Shiraz Exceptional Value
95 points $14 Best Buy
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