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Five Red Wines to Try

Feb 11, 2013 07:32PM ● By Anonymous

Next time you’re perusing a wine retailer for a bottle of red, branch out – there are a number of reds that you’ve likely never given a chance, and they’re worth tasting. As international wines become more available locally, you might have begun seeing these varietals more and more frequently in your local liquor store. The key is breaking out of your merlot rut and actually giving one a try.

Bonarda

Origin: Argentina, the country known for Malbec.
Thought to originally be from Italy – though that’s a controversial statement – Bonarda is Argentina’s second most-planted grape variety. (It was only recently surpassed by Malbec.) It’s not as well known because the grape was typically used in blends in the past, but bottles of 100 percent Bonarda are now available – and the price point is just right for an easily drinkable, casual wine, at typically less than $15 a bottle. Expect the red to be similar to Pinot Noir with a relatively lighter body, fewer tannins, and fruity characteristics, specifically of cherry and plum.

Grenache

Origin: Spain, much more famous for Rioja, made from the Tempranillo grape.
Although Spain is the main source of Grenache grapes – there, it’s known as Garnacha – this low-acid, low-tannin red wine is actually the most commonly planted grape in the world. Like other less-common varietals, the grape is often used in red blends, but it’s declining in popularity as demand grows for Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. But on its own, Grenache shouldn’t be ignored – when allowed, it can develop a velvety texture and complex flavors of dark red fruits, spices, and earthy notes.

Barbera

Origin: Italy, best known for Chianti (and therefore, Sangiovese).
In a discussion about Italian wine, you’ll like get a Hannibal Lecter quote regarding Chianti, made from the Sangiovese grape, in return (“I ate his liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti”). Barbera wine is also often overshadowed by Nebbiolo and Dolcetto, also typically planted in Northern Italy and thought to be superior. Times have changed, though – Barbera wines are now typically fastidiously vinified and then aged to create a full body, deep ruby red color and moderate amount of acidity with bright cherry and spice flavors. As it’s considered the everyday drinking wine in Italy, it’s naturally best paired with classic Italian dishes featuring tomato sauces and braised meats.

Zweigelt

Origin: Austria, which typically produces dry white wines rather than rich reds.
Perhaps hindered by its hard-to-pronounce name – it’s TSVYEgelt, for the record – this light and peppery red wine comes from a region known for crisp whites, Grüner Veltliner, in particular. Zweigelt is actually a cross between two other Austrian reds, Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent, created in 1922 by its namesake, scientist Fritz Zweigelt. Similar to Pinot Noir, it’s light with fl oral characteristics and a hint of spice, making it easy to pair with food.

Petit Verdot

Origin: France, known for nearly every red wine out there: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, just to name a few.
In most cases, these red grapes are part of the classic Bordeaux blend. However, many new world vintners (those in America, Australia, and any place outside of the traditional European wine regions) are now offering it as a single-grape varietal. The wine is rich, both in its inky color and in the bold flavor, with expected dark berry tastes, as well as a hint of smoke, spice, and molasses.