Types of Red Wine, Styles & Varieties (Full Guide)

    Types of Red Wine, Complete Guide

    Red wine is one of the most popular drinks in the world and can be enjoyed on its own or with food.

    In this post, we go over the 'most popular types of red wine', and information on tasting and storing red wine properly.

    For every one or the best red wine types, we tell you:

    • Wine style and structure
    • Wine regions that produce it
    • Wine flavours and food pairings
    • Grape varieties it's often blended with

    Red Wine Types: Our Best 11 Picks

    Red Wine Tasting

    Let us guide you through every detail of the best red wine types:

    Lets take a look at the 11 red wines in more detail:

    1. Cabernet Sauvignon Wine & Grapes

    Cabernet Sauvignon Infographic

    Cabernet sauvignon is the world’s most planted grape.  

    Many people aim to identify spices alongside notes of cherries and currents when they drink this type of wine. The grape shares its name with the wine it is used to make.

    Cabernet sauvignon is one of the most popular types of red wine in the world.

    These wines tend to be big, full-bodied and tannic.

    Cabernet Sauvignon in grape from can be used to produce single-varietal wines as well as a wine blends.

    Smaller amounts of the grape can also be used to create wines like Priorat and Chianti.

    This type of wine is regularly consumed alongside virtually all kinds of meat, especially fatty ones. It can be particularly delicious with lamb and burgers.

    Learn more about Cabernet Sauvignon Wine.

    2. Merlot Wine & Grapes

     Merlot Wine, Vineyard and Grapes

    Merlot is the second-most planted grape in the world.

    Many people start with Merlot when they’re in the process of discovering red wine. Merlot is famed for being easy to drink.

    One reason for this is that it doesn’t feature a high number of tannins.

    Merlot is the name of a type of wine as well as the grape that’s used to make it.

    Merlot is a medium-bodied wine that’s not as tannic as Cabernet Sauvignon.

    Merlot grapes are often blended with other types of red grapes to make wine blends like:

    • Super Tuscans
    • Meritage
    • and Priorat

    The wine is often consumed with poultry such as duck and chicken.

    Learn more about Merlot Wine here.

    3. Zinfandel Wine & Grapes

    Zinfandel Wine Visual

    Zinfandel is famously popular with moms.

    This wine is regarded as a particularly fascinating wine due to the way the taste can vary wildly depending on where it is grown.

    Zinfandel tends to be very juicy and high in terms of alcohol content.

    It’s often enjoyed alongside meats including pork ribs plus goes well with pizza and pasta.

    Learn more about Zinfandel Wine here

    4. Syrah/Shiraz Wine & Grapes

    Shiraz Wine

    Shiraz is known as Syrah in France and various other continental territories.

    This type of wine is often described as spicy, bold and peppery.

    It tends to have the flavour of fruits including blackberries.

    The Syrah grape is used to create many wine blends in places like:

    • Washing State
    • California
    • Australia
    • and Chile

    It is often blended into Super Tuscan wines.

    Syrah or Shiraz works particularly well with charcuterie plate due to the way it bounces well off the salt, spice and subtle flavours of many meats and cheeses.

    Learn more about Shiraz Wine here

    5. Malbec Wine & Grapes

    Malbec Wines

    Malbec originated in France, but most of it is now produced in Argentina.

    Malbec is famously easy to drink and has a deep purple colour as well plumb and cherry flavours.

    Some connoisseurs say it has a hint of smoke.

    This wine is often consumed with leaner meats and spicy Indian and Mexican foods.

    Learn more about Malbec Wine here

    6. Pinot Noir Wine & Grapes

    Pinot Noir Wine Visual

    Pinot Noir is widely regarded as a light, delicate wine.

    It tends to have a silky feel and a light body.

    Some people taste hints of berries including cranberry and raspberry when they consume pinot noir.

    Pinot Noir is grown in France and the United States.

    The grape itself is also found in champagne and sparkling wines.

    Pinots tend to be medium to light bodied and come with a soft tannic structure.

    It’s not common for this grape to be blended with others but it is blended with the Gamay grape from time to time in some Burgundy wines.

    This wine is often enjoyed with sushi and salmon.

    Learn more about Pinot Noir Wine here

    7. Sangiovese Wine & Grapes

    Sangiovese Red Wine

    Sangiovese is Italy’s largest red grape.

    It is heavily associated with Tuscany and the Chianti region in particular.

    Many people say this wine makes odd things occur in their mouths, with the tannins sticking to the sides and the acids making it water.

    Some people say they taste hints of pepper, tobacco and even soil.

    This wine is often enjoyed with pizza and pasta.

    Learn more about Sangiovese Wine here

    8. Nebbiolo Wine & Grapes

    Nebbiolo Wine Vineyard and Grapes

    This popular Italian option comes complete with strong tannins and a liberal amount of acid.

    The wine is grown in the North of Italy.

    You can expect the wine’s flavours to become more interesting and complex over time.

    The wine is frequently consumed alongside fatty meats including:

    • Duck
    • Pork shank
    • Wild boar
    • and Goose

    Learn more about Nebbiolo Wine here

    9. Carménère Wine & Grapes

    Chile Flag and Winery

    Carménère originates from Chile and is known for its raspberry and peppery flavours.

    The grape is often used to create blends including several Bordeaux and American Meritage wines.

    Read more about Chilean Red Wine here.

    10. Barbera Wine & Grapes

    This wine is mainly made in the North of Italy.

    Low in tannins, the wine is known for its acidity and soft plumb flavours.

    It is made in a few regions outside of Italy, but it is normally used as a single varietal wine.

    11. Cabernet Franc Wine & Grapes

    Cabernet Franc originated in France and is used in single varietal, Bordeaux wines, and Bordeaux-style blends around the world.

    It is sometimes blended in small amounts in Chianti, super Tuscan wines, and Meritage style wines.

    This wine has medium tannins with hints of plums, berries, and spice.

    Summary of Red Wine Types

    Here is a summary of the 11 red wine types along with the grape, growing region, style and food pairings:

    Wine Grape Region Style Food Pairing
    Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon Worldwide Full-bodied, tannic Meat, especially fatty ones like lamb and burgers
    Merlot Merlot Worldwide Medium-bodied Poultry such as duck and chicken
    Zinfandel Zinfandel California Full-bodied, high alcohol content Meats, such as pork ribs, pizza and pasta
    Shiraz/Syrah Syrah France, Australia, California, Chile Bold, peppery Charcuterie plate
    Malbec Malbec Argentina, France Easy to drink, deep purple color Leaner meats, spicy Indian and Mexican foods
    Pinot Noir Pinot Noir France, United States Light-bodied, silky Sushi and salmon
    Sangiovese Sangiovese Italy Medium-bodied, tannic Pizza and pasta
    Nebbiolo Nebbiolo Italy Strong tannins, acidic Fatty meats, such as duck, pork shank, wild boar, and goose
    Carménère Carménère Chile Medium-bodied Beef, lamb, spicy foods
    Barbera Barbera Italy Medium-bodied Tomato-based dishes, grilled meats
    Cabernet Franc Cabernet Franc France, Italy, United States Medium-bodied Pork

    Why is Red Wine Red?

    Red Wine in Glasses

    Red wine is red because the grapes that are used to produce it are red.

    Red wine can come in various shades, and some are darker than others.

    The skins of the grapes are responsible for the diverse colour spectrum of red wine.

    The skins come into contact with the juice of the grapes during the process of fermentation, which enables the colour and tannins to disperse.

    The red hue of a specific red wine will depend on the type of grape that’s been used during the process as well as the length of the time that the skin’s pigmentation is in contact with the juice.

    It’s said that they are around 50 major red wine varietals.

    What Are The Main Red Wine Styles?

    Winemakers tend to have a big influence on the kind of wine they produced.

    Red wines are often categorised by their body types.

    When someone says a red wine is “light bodied”, this normally refers to the mouth feel and the tannin structure.

    • Light-bodied wines tend to have fewer tannins and a weaker presence on the palate.
    • Medium-bodied wines normally have more tannins, whilst full-bodied wines have the highest tannin content.
    • Full-bodied wines also tend to have the highest level of alcohol content.

    Popular examples of full-bodied wines include the Super Tuscans of Italy and the Bordeaux wines of France.

    Full-bodied wines tend to feel heavier in the mouth. Red wines are frequently described as dry or sweet.

    Common Red Wine Flavour Descriptions

    Here are the most common flavour descriptions used to describe red wine:

    Red Wine Flavors and Aromas
    Flavor/Aroma Type Items
    Fruit Cherry
    Spice Pepper (white/black)
    Other Coffee

    Which Are The Most Popular European Red Wines?

    Some of the most popular kinds of Italian red wine include Sangiovese, Barbera and Nebbiolo. Rioja (Tempranillo) and Priorat are popular kinds of Spanish red wine.

    How Long Should I Let Red Wine Breathe?

    If you want to get more from your red wine and saviour its unique flavours, you should let it breathe for at least half an hour. However, if you have a bolder red wine, it’s best to decant it for up to an hour.

    What Temperature Should Red Wine Be Served At?

    Red Wine Serving Temp Visual

    The temperature you serve red wine at generally depends on which kind of red wine you are drinking.

    If you have a lighter, crisper red, it’s a good idea to chill it and serve it between 12-13°C.

    It’s best to serve a medium-bodied red at around 14-16°C.

    If you want to devour the flavour of a fuller-bodied red, serve it around 16 - 18°C.

    Related: Red Wine Storage Temperature (Full Guide)

    To keep your red wine stored perfectly for serving take a look at our red wine cabinet fridges.

      How Long Does Red Wine Last Opened?

      Most red wines will last for between three to five days once you have opened them.

      However, the more tannins you have, the longer you can expect it to last. This is because tannins delay the oxygenation process.

      The deeper the red is, the longer you can expect your wine to last.

      What Is The Best Kind of Red Wine?

      Preferences can vary wildly from one connoisseur to another. It can be a good idea to look for award-winning wines if you require something that’s been met with big acclaim.

      However, you can also find out which region your favourite red wine originates from and purchase another product from that territory.

      Which Red Wine is Smoothest?

      If you need a red wine that’s neither too tannic or acidic, you may wish to opt for Pinot Noir, Gamay, Grenache, Trousseau, or Poulsard.

      What Is The Most Popular Red Wine In The World?

      Evidence suggests that Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular wine in the world.

      The wine is produced in various regions but originates from Bordeaux.

      Before You Go...

      Red Wine Vineyard

      We hope you enjoyed our article on the types of red wine.

      Read our next article about popular wines (and why) here...

      Popular Wine Types (Full Guide)

      If you have any questions, leave them in the comments, or email us at

      Related Guides

      You can browse more posts on Wine Types here.

      Expert Wine Storage can help you find a luxury wine fridge to store your precious wine collection.

      philip thompson Author: Philip Thompson
      Philip is the General Manager at Expert Wine Storage, and is very knowledgable about all things relating to wine and wine storage, including wine fridges. He is regularly featured in media outlets sharing his knowledge on wine. Connect on Linkedin

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