Red Wines

Red Wines

The following contains a listing of red wines generally paired with entrees and appetizers. The red wines list below provides an overview of the various wine varietals and some baseline information. If you are looking to learn about a red wine varietal, check out the list below. These red wines are used in Chef Vivant’s professional wine pairing algorithm for all of our entrĂ©e and appetizer recipes.

Barbera is a prolific red grape found mostly in Piedmont, Italy with the better ones coming from the Asti and Alba sub-regions. It is used mostly to make lighter bodied everyday drinking wines with high acid that have blueberry and blackberry fruit with woody earth elements. Best drunk from 1-3 years from vintage.

Beaujolais is a region in France whose red wines are made using the Gamay grape. The wines are light in body and tend toward overt fruitiness although some will show a bit of earth flavors. Best drunk young and chilled.

Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine from the Montalcino village of Southwest Tuscany made from the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape. It is aged for two years in cask and four more in bottle before release. It is a dry and full bodied wine with intense and complex aromas and flavors of black fruits, sour cherry, chocolate, anise and violets. Best drunk after 8-10+ years after vintage.

Cabernet Franc
As the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc will mirror many of the same traits, typically aromatic notes of plum and violets. Show earthy, vegetative notes. A bit less dry than Cabernet. They are best drunk 3-7 years from vintage.

Cabernet Sauvignon
The Cabernet Sauvignon grape makes red wines that are dry rich and full bodied with mouth drying tannins that pair well with the fat and proteins of red meat. Often with flavors of dark berries and cassis with woody notes of cedar, vanilla and/or cinnamon, they are best drunk 3-7 years of age from vintage.

Originating in Bordeaux, France but now almost exclusively bottled varietally in Chile, Carmenere is a red grape that has grown in prominance only in the last 10 years or so. Carmenere makes red wines that are medium in body and tannin with red fruits and usually lots of spice and wood elements. Best drunk 1-4 years from vintage.

Chianti is a wine region in Tuscany famous for using the Sangiovese grape. Historically a blend, Sangiovese always comprises the vast majority of the grapes used. The wines have medium high acidity, medium tannins and have from fresh to dried, red fruit characteristics with elements of tobacco. Most are best drunk young 1-4 years from vintage however the best can age for much longer.

Blended wines of Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Mourvedre. Cherry, berry, boysenberry notes. Level of dryness, alcohol and earthiness depends on blend and region. Best enjoyed between 1-7 years depending on blend and region. Higher percents of Mourvedre and Syrah could add 2-4 years.

Grenache is a grape that is often blended and can also be found bottled on it’s own. Medium to very full in body and medium to lightish in color it can show a variety of characteristics depending on yields and soil conditons. Grenache can show red to black fruits of varying intensity and can also show notes ranging from leather, asian spices, black pepper and roasted nuts in the nose as well as mouth. All but the very top wines are best drunk from 1-3 years from vintage.

The Malbec grape is found primarily in Argentina and Southwest France. The wines are medium to full bodied, are dry, show distinct blackberry fruit and medium to high tannins. New World versions are generally drunk young while French versions are best with 3-5+ years of age.

The Merlot grape makes smooth wines that can show red fruits and nuances of tobacco leaves, olives, cola nuts and tea. They can vary in intensity and structure but many are medium bodied with modest tannins and can have a velvety mouthfeel. They generally age less well than Cabernets and are best drunk from 2-4 years from vintage.

Nebbiolo is a grape primarily found in Northwest Italy, particularly in the region of Piedmont where it finds it’s ultimate expression in the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco. It makes powerful and tannic, full bodied wines with high acidity that tend to be lighter in color. Primary flavors/aromas of cherry and raspberry with lots of nuances from licorice and coffee to tar and roses. Most aren’t released for several years after vintage and best drunk from 8-15 years after vintage.

Northern Rhone
The Rhone Valley in south central France produces red wines almost exclusively made from the Syrah grape. The resulting wines are full of flavors and aromas of spices, earth, smoke and/or roasted meats that are medium plus to full in body. The best have good aging potential and most are best drunk from 2-5 years from vintage.

Petit Sirah
A dark inky wine with intense high tannin and somewhat acidic. Aromas of lavender, blueberry, herbal notes. They are best drunk 5-10 years of age from vintage.

Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a thin-skinned varietal whose wines show primarily fruits ranging from black or red cherry to strawberry and raspberry often with earthy flavors and aromas. Pinot’s are generally light to medium plus in body with fewer tannins than many other red wines making them ideal for foods like duck and pork. The grapes thin skins make them susceptible to variations in weather . Best from 1-4 years from vintage.

Red Bordeaux
Red Bordeaux are elegant but intense dry red wines made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes in the Bordeaux region of western France. Better Bordeaux have great aging potential with flavors incuding dark and red berries, cassis, cedar and tobacco. Best 3-7+ years of age from vintage.

Red Burgundy
Burgundy is a region in East-Central France where all red wines are made from Pinot Noir. The wines are light to medium ruby in color with intense yet elegant fruit, wood and/or earth aromas and flavors such as red cherry, raspberry, clay, fresh soil, green tea and raked leaves. These can be light to medium in body and can age longer than Pinot’s from other regions. Best 3-7+ years from vintage.

Notes of cherry, slightly sour cherry, earthy, hints of sage, medium + tannis, and high acidity, can have notes of cedar and tar. They are best drunk 2-8 years of age from vintage.

The Rhone Valley in south central France produces red wines almost exclusively made from the Syrah grape. The resulting wines are full of flavors and aromas of spices, earth, smoke and/or roasted meats that are medium plus to full in body. The best have good aging potential and most are best drunk from 2-5 years from vintage.

The Syrah grape makes fruity dry wines with medium to full body and exhibit spice and earth flavors. They are deep in color and often show black fruits and earth with aromas of smoke and/or black pepper. Their powerful flavor is often matched with lamb dishes. Best 2-5 years from vintage.

Tempranillo can be found vinified on it’s own or blended with grapes such as Grenache. It is grown all over Spain but the best examples are from the Ribero del Duero and Rioja regions. They yield dry reds that can express red berry and plum fruit with vanilla, leather and smoke aromas and flavers of medium light to powerful intensity. Most are best drunk young but the better ones can age ten years.

The grape Zinfandel produces wines with very ripe fruit and are often high in alcohol and full bodied while medium to low in tannin. Fruits associated with Zinfandel wines are anything form raspberries, blackberries to black plums which are often jammy in character. They do not pair well with spicy foods due to their alcohol content and are best drunk from 1-3 years from vintage.