Wine enthusiasts often want to know what the best type of red wine is. There is no straightforward answer to the question, simply because there is no single best type of red wine. The answer can even differ based on what you’re looking for in a wine -whether you’re looking for the best food pairings, the best collectable, red wines best served chilled, the best red wine for healthy drinking, or the best pick for a special occasion.
However, among the many types of red wines available, we can rank the best ones based on the popularity of their varietals.
Cab Sauv is the most widely planted wine grape in the world, and the wine is consequently found on almost all wine lists and store shelves. It is often people’s introduction to the world of red wines and ranks high in popularity. It certainly helps that Cabernet pairs perfectly with flavourful dishes like grilled meats, roasts, and even burgers and ribs.
Californian Cab Sauv tends to be fruitier with cherries and currants while the French ones are on the herbal side with more oaky and cedar flavours. The wine is moderately bold and full-bodied, ages really well, and is perhaps the most popular red wine in the world. It is also the basis for many popular blends, like the famous Bordeaux blend.
Merlot is quite similar to Cabernet Sauvignon but less expensive, and it is the second most widely planted grape. It is fruity and pleasant with flavours of cherry, plum, and vanilla, and is moderate in dryness, making it easy to drink. Its versatility makes it suitable for a variety of palates, and a complementary pairing for poultry and light meats as well as many kinds of cheeses.
Merlots are medium-to-full-bodied, moderately acidic, with relatively high alcohol content. Like Cab Sauv, it is also used in popular wine blends.
A Shiraz, or a Syrah – as it is called in Europe, is a natural next step from Cabernet and Merlot. It is a full-bodied red wine, a bit on the drier side, with moderately-high alcohol level and tannins and a mix of fun fruity flavours. It can be spicy and bold, with notes of rich fruits like berries and plum, as well as aromas of smoke, pepper, and milk chocolate.
The grape originated in France’s Rhone Valley and is today Australia’s most widely planted varietal. The wine makes for an excellent pairing with charcuterie boards, playing off the salt and spice flavours of meats and cheeses.
A light-bodied red that can be either fruity or earthy depending on where it’s from, Pinot Noir is a delicate and silky wine. It is a traditional Burgundy but is grown in many other parts of the world, like Chile and Switzerland. But it can be a finicky grape to cultivate and is susceptible to diseases and rot.
Pinot Noir is a bit more expensive than the earlier wines but worth the price. It tastes like bright berries but not too sweet. The bright acidity pairs well with salmon and other fatty fish, or an aged Camembert.
Not to be confused with white Zinfandel, this bold and medium-bodied red from California (originally from Croatia) is popular for its structured tannins, high alcohol content, and juicy fruit flavours. The above 15% ABV lends a spicy note of pepper or cinnamon to the wine, and it pairs well with Mediterranean cuisine and barbecue dishes. Zinfandel is also commonly found in Californian red blends.
Another red wine that is French in origin, Malbec is now representative of South American wines, or more specifically – Argentinian red wine. However, it is grown across the world, from South Africa to New Zealand. This is a pleasant oak-aged wine made for easy drinking, with a deep purple hue and ripe fruity flavours of plum, cherry, and berries. It has notes of milk chocolate and smoke and can be quite dry and short on the finish.
An affordable and easy contender for people’s favourite red wine, Malbec pairs well with red meats on the leaner side or spicier dishes like Indian and Mexican.
The list of popular red wines that could compete to be on a best red wines list is long, and aside from these top six, also includes other wines like Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Grenache, Tempranillo, and Rioja.