There are hundreds of red wine grapes varieties to learn, and there is much red wine information to know about as there are red grapes planted across the globe. With this said, you will likely encounter only a few of these grapes most often. However, let’s not stop learning because of that reason.
Today, let us increase your knowledge and learn some basic information about the most common red wine grapes. Although you can certainly choose to learn more by discovering more beyond this article, this quick and easy Sassicaia red wine crash course will discuss the different flavor profiles, grapes, and region of red wines.
Cabernet Sauvignon (cab-er-nay saw-vee-nyon)
Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most popular red wine grape that is a natural cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux, France. The flavors that it emits is of bell pepper, green olive, cassis, herb, and black cherry. However, there are also some Cabernet Sauvignon wines that are savory and smoky, while others are sumptuous and fruity. It highly depends on where it was grown and how it was made.
Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux and Tuscany is almost always blended to soften the wine’s intensely astringent tannins. On the other hand, the Napa style is dense, purple-black, and jammy, which tastes like currants and black cherries.
Meanwhile, the best Cabernet in Washington straddles the border between the nuanced leaf, herb, and olive flavors of the great Bordeaux and the ripeness of the Californian version.
Merlot is loved for its flavors of chocolatey finish, black cherry flavors, and supple tannins. However, it is often mistaken with Cabernet Sauvignon and is commonly blended with it. This wine is the child of Cabernet Franc and the rare wine, which is the Magdeleine Noire des Charentes—making it a sibling of Cabernet Sauvignon!
Merlot is considered as the Chardonnay of the reds but is mostly lacking any substantive character of its own.
Along with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is part of the essential blending triad that takes up the majority of the Bordeaux blend and Meritage red wines produced in the United States. The Cabernet Franc is more tannic and is an earthy cousin of Cabernet Sauvignon. In warmer sites that are outside of Europe, the wine’s most distinctive attribute is of pure notes of violets and blueberry which is often carried with the scent of freshly roasted coffee.
On the other hand, although rarely blended, it is made as a varietal in Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny where it is tannic and hard which can evoke an austere minerality. On another note, it is featured in blends with Merlot in Pomerol and Saint-Emilion wherein it is added with a spicy, pungent, and sometimes a minty note.
Gamay offers a taste of a fruity, floral, and sometimes of earthy light-bodied red which is the main variety planted in Beaujolais. This wine is often made to be drunk quite young and is made by the method known as the carbonic maceration, in which the whole grapes are fermented in an environment rich in carbon dioxide before crushing.
The young Gamay has a slight effervescence with a distinct smell of bananas, and an example of it is the Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released each year shortly after its harvest.
Malbec is one of the blending grapes of Bordeaux which has risen to prominence in Argentina where they make it as a spicy, tart red wine that takes well to aging in new oak barrels. This wine is Argentina’s most important variety which came by way of France and is loved for its rich, dark fruit flavor with a smooth chocolatey finish.
This wine is mainly prominent in Argentina and is highly valued. However, it remains a minor player elsewhere, although there are a few varieties labeled as Malbecs that are made in Washington and California.
The kind of wine that winemakers love to hate, because it is considered as the prettiest, sexiest, and is the most demanding but is the least predictable of all. The template for an excellent Pinot Noir is Burgundy, but even so, the grape is still flighty, fragile and is prone to have weedy flavors obstinately.
Pinot Noir is best expressed as a pure variety which is often featured as a single-vineyard wine in California and Oregon, which emulate the hundreds of tiny appellations of Burgundy.
If you are still starting as a wine enthusiast or is someone aiming for a more professional career in the wine industry, then the information discussed above are essential in widening your knowledge to pave up your way as a “pro.”
However, know that an individual does not stop learning even when one seemed to have learned everything that is needed to know. Thus, feel free to look up and read more information in regards to the wines.
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