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 finish that shows accents of cafe latte, salted caramel, and veal charcuterie 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 finish that exhibits suggestions of blackberry creme brulee, pomegranate-tomato chutney on rye raisin toast, beef consommé, and tamari with moderate oak flavor. A decadently delicious and savory shiraz that will stimulate and satisfy.
97 points $45.99
Crux Winery 2016  Zinfandel
96 points
$38
Black violet color. Spicy aromas of spiced plums, lingonberry, luxury tobacco, cedar, and spice cabinet with a velvety, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and a peppery, involved, long rum-raisin cake, black pepper, and leather finish with chewy tannins and heavy oak flavor. A heavily oak-driven, spicy, concentrated zinfandel for divine pairings.
Jarvis 2015 Will Jarvis Science Project Cabernet Franc
96 points
$170
Medium ruby black color. Fruity, inviting aromas and flavors of smuckers jam, sweet mint, raspberry, and January Christmas tree with a satiny, racy, bone-dry medium body and a tingling, compelling, medium-length finish that presents notes of cranberry mostarda, black cherry, cedar smoke , sticky coffee pudding, cocoa powder, and blackberry with chewy, woody tannins and light oak flavor. A decadent, silky-smooth Cabernet Franc in a plush, elegant style.
Clos du Val 2015 Hirondelle Vineyard Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
96 points
$120
Nearly opaque black garnet color. Complex aromas and flavors of black olive, rosemary focaccia, coconut creme, and milk chocolate with a slightly chewy, vibrant, dryish full body and a peppery, subtle, long finish with notes of sun dried tomato, black pepper, dark tobacco, and mace with firm tannins and moderate oak flavor. A concentrated, powerful Cabernet with stimulating salinity; makes a lasting impression.
Jarvis 2008 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
96 points
$315
Garnet black color. Aromas and flavors of berry compote, butter roasted nuts, kidd leather, and polished wood with a bright, dryish medium-to-full body and a complex, medium-long finish revealing notes of bubbly cassis pie crust, mixed olives, incense, and marinated meat with fine, earthy tannins and moderate oak flavor. A silky, complex and elegant Napa cabernet for the finest of steaks.
Lorenzi Estate 2014 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
96 points
$75
Deep purple color. Aromas and flavors of pickled peppers and olives, dried berries and dates, chive blossoms, and roasted nuts with an vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and an intricate, long finish with notes of cassis preserves, pumpernickel raisin toast, and spiced sultanas with chewy, silky tannins and moderate oak flavor. A sumptuous, elegant, yet powerful and deeply flavorful cabernet that is singing right now.
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 flavor. 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 finish with suggestions of spiced nuts, tomato-citrus compote, peppered amaro, and saffron and alpine herbs with dusty, fine tannins and moderate oak flavor. A lovely, spicy and herbaceous red blend that screams for herbed grilled meat.