What is Red Wine?
Red wine is made from the fermented pulp of dark-skinned grapes. Most dark-skinned grapes have uncoloured flesh and the process of saignée or ‘bleeding’ involves leaving the dark grape skins in contact with the pulp to not only add colour but also flavour. The most well known red wine varietals include Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese. High-quality red wines tend to cellar well, with many benefiting from decades of age. Red wines from the higher end fetch enormous prices at auction.
Common Red Wine styles
Bordeaux-style reds are full-bodied blended wines made in many regions around the world. Wines in this style are primarily Cabernet Sauvignon based and blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Chianti is one of the most well known wines in the world and most famous in Italy. It is a medium-bodied, blended wine made primarily with the grape varietal Sangiovese.
Pairing food with Red Wine
The diversity in red wine allows for pairing with a range of foods. Rather than simply matching red wine with red meat, matching strengths produces better results. Big red Barossa Valley blockbusters are a great match for rich red meat dishes like ragout or a cattleman’s cut steak. Pinot Noir, being a more subtle wine, can match with more delicate foods. Duck is a classic combination for red wine from Burgundy but also fatty fish dishes like a fillet of salmon. More mature Pinot Noirs can pair well with heavier dishes. Beef bourguignon, a tradition dish from historical region of Burgundy, is classic match.
Notable Red Wine regions
The title of the best red wine is unusually a competition between the prestigious French wines of Bordeaux and Burgundy. While the premier wines of Bordeaux are numerous, the red wines of Burgundy compete at the very top. Bordeaux red wines are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec whereas reds from Burgundy are primarily made with Pinot Noir. Red wines from both regions enjoy cult followings with supporters from both camps claiming superiority.
The Barossa Valley produces some of the best wines in Australia. Known primarily for blockbuster reds, wineries in South Australia have immense international success with Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. All the major South Australian players produce this distinct style of Australian wine including Penfolds, Yalumba, Wolf Blass, Wirra Wirra, Bleasdale and St Hugo to name a few. Wine lovers can expect full-bodied, big-flavoured red wines from this part of the world.
The future of Red Wines
Red wines continue to be at the forefront of the Australian offering on the international stage. Leading the line is, as ever, Penfolds Grange. However, there is more to Australian red than Grange. The 1860 Vines from Tahbilk and Hill Of Grace from Henschke are both single vineyard Shiraz wines and represent the growing recognition of the range of Australia’s most prestigious wines.
- Red Wine
- Food Pairing