All grape juice, whether from a red grape or green grape, is usually clear. The range of color in red wine actually comes from the grape skin, which is left in contact with the juice during the fermentation or maceration process. As such, much of the red-wine production process involves extraction of color and flavor components from the grape skins, which is why it can’t be made with white-skinned grapes. Longer fermentation means that the juice has had more time to leach the red colour from the skins that it is in contact with, resulting in darker wines. Tannin levels (the cause of that drying sensation in your mouth) are much higher in red wines than white wines due to the fact that they are naturally occurring chemical compounds in grape skins, stems, and pips, however in some wines, the tannins can actually be very subtle.
Types of red wine
With a wide variety of types to choose from, there is a style of red wine for everyone. While Cabernet and Merlot are among the most popular varietals, there are definitely others that deserve recognition.
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the top varietals of red wine in the United States and is often deemed the king of red wines. Generally full-bodied and highly tannic, all Cabernet Sauvignon styles have a strong family resemblance despite variances in growing conditions. This wine typically displays herbaceous qualities, however young wines can be slightly harsher.
Carmenere is an older grape varietal used to produce Bordeaux wine. Requiring lots of sun exposure and warmth to reach optimum ripeness, Carmenere is a difficult grape to maintain. However, ripe Carmenere can add spicy, herbal, and smoky flavours to a wine.
Malbec, a blending grape from Bordeaux, typically adds notes of sour cherry and spice to red wines. Malbec is thought to lie in between the strong flavour of a Cabernet Sauvignon and the fruity, softer feel of Merlot wines.
Merlot wines have a smoother texture than other red varieties, commonly described as luscious and velvety, fruity, and soft. Used to tone down Cabernet Sauvignon in some red blends in Bordeaux, Merlot is easy and versatile, mostly grown in California and Washington in the United States. In the Southern regions of France, Merlot can be found in a variety of red blends.
Pinot Noir. Second to none other than the famed Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir is typically a smooth and silky medium to full-bodied wine. Originating from Burgundy, France, Pinot Noir is now grown all over the world in countries like New Zealand, Italy, Australia, and Chile, to name just a few. As a thin-skinned grape, Pinot Noir is the prettiest yet most demanding and least predictable grape of all. At its best, Pinot Noir is best experienced as a pure variety of red wine, with flavours of plum and raspberry, as well as fragrant aromas.
Sangiovese, the most planted variety of red grape in Italy, is the principal variety used in Chianti, Chianti Classico, with distinctive flavours of anise and pie cherry and hints of dried roses. With relatively high acidity and firm tannins, Sangiovese is lighter in colour and is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon under varietal labels.
Shiraz/Syrah are made from the same grape variety, used to produce the great Rhone Valley wine blends in France. A full-bodied wine with ripe, firm tannins, Australian Shiraz has been made in every possible style from lighter styles to denser wines, while the peppery varietal is blended into more complex wines in its home in Northern Rhone.
Tempranillo is a black grape variety planted all over Spain, and is one of the main components of Rioja. Also planted in Portugal, California and Australia, Tempranillo is typically a full-bodied wine with medium acidity. Fun fact: “Tempranillo” comes from the Spanish word temprano, meaning “early!” Most fitting for this varietal, as it reaches optimum ripeness much earlier than other Spanish grape varieties.
What are the best red wine brands?
With so many styles to choose from, here’s a list of some quality red wine brands to help you narrow it down to your favourite wine:
- Castello di Gabbiano
- Concha y Toro - Reservado
- Scala Dei
- Vina Pomal
- Wolf Blass
Best priced red wine in Singapore
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Where can I find the best red wine in Singapore?
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