Skip to main content Accessibility Help

Red Wine 101

Jammy, fruity, earthy, bold…these are some common words associated with red wine. There are hundreds and hundreds of different varieties of red wines, each one different from the next. Not all red wines are alike and there is a style for every palate. You may say that you do not like red wine, but perhaps you have not had the right one yet. So, let's go over some basics of red wine and perhaps help you find one you will like.

How Is Red Wine Made?

Go-To Red Wines

Pinot Noir: 
Where it's found: Made famous by the movie Sideways, Pinot Noir has been adored by wine drinkers for years. Pinot Noir is the red grape of Burgundy, France. It is also planted in Sonoma, Santa Barbara, Oregon, New Zealand, as well as Italy, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Germany and South Africa. The thin-skinned grape is difficult to grow and thrives in cooler climate areas. 

How it tastes: Pinot Noir can range from light-bodied to medium-bodied. Typical flavors of pinot noir are cranberry, raspberry, black cherries, mushrooms and wet leaves, licorice, tobacco and cola. Pinot Noir typically is low in tannins but medium to high in acidity.

Pair with: Pinot Noir can pair with all types of food. It is light enough for salmon and tuna but also works with duck, pork and lamb.


Where it's found: Like Grenache, Syrah is also one of the red grapes found in the Rhone blends in France, as well as California, Australia, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Chile and Italy.

How it tastes: A full-bodied red wine, Syrah has notes of black berries (blackberry, boysenberry, blueberry), herbs and spices (rosemary, mint, clove, pepper, allspice, tobacco), licorice, olives and smoke. Syrah typically has high tannins and medium acidity.

Pair with: Next time you are grilling meat, pull out a bottle of Syrah. Also try it with lamb shawarma, barbecue pulled pork and cured meats.

Red Wine Gems

Where it's found: Nebbiolo is one of the most famous grapes of Italy and is found in the famous regions of Barolo and Barbaresco, where it can be quite expensive. Langhe Nebbiolo is an affordable Nebbiolo from the same region. While Nebbiolo is primarily grown in Piedmont, Italy, small plantings can also be found in California and Mexico. 

How it tastes: With aromas of cherries, roses and clay, Nebbiolo tastes like it smells. Rose, cherry, red currant, pepper and earth are met with intense tannins and high acid. 

Pair with: Enjoy Nebbiolo with meat, such as beef tenderloin, meat ragu or braised pork. Or try it with a rich, creamy cheese or a wild mushroom risotto.

About the Author:
Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate, a boutique agency specializing in marketing and event planning for the wine and spirits industry. With over 15 years of experience in communications, marketing and event planning, Allison is passionate about the world around her and the diverse people in it. Allison holds a Master's Degree in International Communications with a focus on cross-cultural training from the American University School of International Service. She also holds a WSET Level 3 Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), an Italian Wine Specialist Diploma from the North American Sommelier Association, a Certified Meeting Professional Certificate (CMP), and is BarSmarts Wired certified. Check out her Top Shelf Blogger profile!

Shop Red Wine

We're sorry, but something went wrong. If you are the application owner check the logs for more information.