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5 red wines for white wine drinkers

Devout white wine drinker, but curious about the world of red wine? Try these 5 reds.

The choice between a red or white glass of wine isn’t necessarily always about the food or season pairing as much as it is a team affiliation. Listen, we get it. It’s your wine - drink what you want. But for those type of wine drinkers that are trying to dip their toes in the red wine pool, are looking to expand their wine tasting palate, or want to see what in the heck people mean when they talk about pairing food with a pinot grigio - this one’s for you at-home sommeliers.

If you find yourself to be an avid white wine drinker, it’s probably because of a few key characteristics. Your favorite white beverage tends to be light bodied, have low tannins, tends to be fruity (or buttery if your main squeeze is chardonnay) and is served chilled. The key in finding which glass of red is for you is identifying which characteristics you gravitate towards, and finding reds that have that same characteristic.

Red wine characteristics that are like white wines
  • Light bodied
  • Low tannins
  • Fruity taste
  • Serving temperature
  • LIGHT BODY

    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 wine drinking, chances are it’s because you are the type of wine drinker that prefers a lighter-bodied wine. Keep in mind too, that body and alcohol content are a pair so you also may prefer a lower alcohol content in your bottle of wine. While you’ve clearly found a few favorites with the whites, keep in mind there’s plenty of reds that have a light body and low alcohol content as well.

    LOW TANNIN LEVELS

    Tannins are a component found in the grape's skin, seeds and steps. When red wine is made, the 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 whites 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 productions will punch you in the face with their bitterness.

    FRUIT

    Both red and whites can be fruity, but the fruits are much different between them. White wines lend themselves to flavors of apple, lemon, citrus and tropical fruits. Reds 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.

    TEMPERATURE

    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 reds will work for you. However, there are plenty of bottles of red that are served cool rather than room temperature. Go for a lighter bodied bottle of red since these wines are served at temperatures similar to white wine. 

    Red wines for white wine drinkers

    Pinot noir

    Pinot noir is the most popular of the reds. 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 are the type of wine drinker that tends to go with light bodied sauvignon blancs, try an old world pinot noir from a cooler climate.

    Rosé

    Rosé can be the perfect gateway to the world of the red for wine lovers. The winemaking process for red and white grapes 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. Popular grapes used for rosé are grenache, sangiovese, syah, mourvèdre, carignan and cabernet sauvignon.

    Lambrusco

    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

    Merlot has a reputation for being an easy to drink red, which has helped it become the second most popular red grape in the United States. This may seem surprising because of its deep red color, but merlot is a great introduction into red wine.

    Zinfandel

    For those who enjoy a full bodied white like a chardonnay, zinfandel could be a perfect option. This is a fuller-bodied red with low tannins. Since it’s juicy and not too tannic, its fruitier flavors will still stand out once chilled.