5 red wines for people who like white wine
Devout white wine drinker, but curious about the world of red wine? Try these 5 reds.
January 29, 2021
The choice between red and white wine isn’t necessarily always about the food or season pairing as much as it is a team affiliation. It could be the dead of winter, a spread of pasta bolognese on the table, and with the offer of a hearty red a white wine loyalist still may say no thank you (you know who you are, out there). Listen, we get it. It’s your wine - drink what you want. But for those of you who are trying to dip your toes in the red wine pool, are looking to expand their palate, or want to see what in the heck people talk about with red wine food pairings - this one’s for you.
If you find yourself to be an avid white wine drinker, it’s probably because of a few key characteristics about white wines. White wines tend to be light bodied, have low tannins, tend to be fruity (or buttery if your main squeeze is chardonnay) and are served chilled. The key in finding which glass of red is for you is identifying which white wine characteristic you gravitate towards, and finding red wines that have that same characteristic.
Red wine characteristics that are like white wines
Light bodied Low tannins Fruity taste Serving temperature
The body of a wine is defined by how light or heavy the wine feels in your mouth. If you’re a big fan of white wines, chances are it’s because you prefer a lighter-bodied wine. Keep in mind too, that body and alcohol content are a pair. So you also may prefer a lower alcohol wine. While you’ve clearly found a few favorites in white wine, keep in mind there’s plenty of red wines that have a light body and low alcohol content as well.
Low tannin levels
Tannins are a component found in the grapes skin, seeds and steps. When red wine is made, the grape seeds, skins and stems sit in the juice and that bitter tannin flavor becomes a part of the wine. The longer they sit in there, the higher the tannin content. Since white wines don’t sit with their skins, they have low tannin content, so they’re not bitter. If you’re looking for a red that doesn’t taste bitter, look out for reds with low tannin content. Not all red wines will punch you in the face with their bitterness.
Both red and white wines can be fruity, but the fruits are much different between red and white wines. White wines lend themselves to flavors of apple, lemon, citrus and tropical fruits. Red wines on the other hand, have flavors from blackfruits, cherries and raspberries. However, if you tend to like fruity whites, try fruity reds over dry or harsh red wines.
One last big difference between white and red wines are the serving temperatures. If you enjoy a nice cool glass of white wine, not all red wines will work for you. However, there are plenty of red wines that are served cool rather than room temperature. Go for a lighter bodied red wine, like pinot noir, since these wines are served at temperatures similar to white wine.
Red wines for white wine drinkers
Pinot noir is the most popular red wine. It’s light to medium bodied and easy to drink. It’s grown in most places which can change the flavor of the bottle, but typically cooler climate pinots will be lighter and warmer climates will be more fruit forward. If you tend to go with light bodied sauvignon blancs, try an old world pinot noir from a cooler climate.
Rosé can be the perfect gateway to red wine. The winemaking process for red wine and white wine is different, as we talk about in our red wine guide. In the rosé wine process, red grapes are used, just like they are when red wine is made. The grape skins stay in contact with the juice for just a little bit of time, usually between 2 to 24 hours, to give it that famous pink hue. So trying different glasses of reds with different red grape varieties can give you the opportunity to learn about red grapes you like, while still having a wine with the dryness of your favorite white wines. Popular grapes used for rosé are grenache, sangiovese, syah, mourvèdre, carignan and pinot noir.
For those who are in the mood for some bubbles, try lambrusco. Lambrusco is light, fruity and semi-sparkling wine. There’s strong aromas of orange, cherries and violets. For those who are strict white wine drinkers, try Lambrusco di Sorbara. This is one of the hues quality varieties and has a bit more of a pink color than red.
Merlot has a reputation for being an easy to drink red wine, which has helped it become the second most popular red grape in the US. This may seem surprising because of its deep red color, but merlot is a great introduction into red wine. Reason being, they’re in the same family as the sauvignon blanc grape. So, if you’re a big fan of rich sauvignon blancs, merlot is a natural fit.
For those who enjoy a full bodied white wine, like a rich chardonnay, zinfandel could be a perfect red wine to try. This is a fuller-bodied red with low tannins. Since it’s juicy and not too tannic, it’s fruitier flavors will still stand out once chilled.