Everyone has experienced it: that wonderfully overwhelming feeling of standing under the towering red wine selection at the store. One can choose a wine based on its charismatic logo quite simply, but it’s a lot more helpful to brush up on wine basics before making a purchase altogether, especially if you have an aversion to sweet or dry wines. Don’t make mystery purchases anymore; know your wines!
Start by reading the label, and assessing the color of the wine itself. Observing the color and body of the wine in its bottle is a great indicator of what experience you are lining yourself up for.
Very Sweet Red Wines
According to Wine Folly, the very sweetest red wines can be detected with the following keywords: Tawny port, and Vin Santo Rosso. These are two very common, and extremely sweet dessert wines. Their color usually comes in the form of an orange-brown, thick-bodied liquid. If you’re looking for a large glass of wine with no headache, save the dessert wine purchase for later. The very sweetest wines usually contain rich notes, like fig or raisin, and are best consumed in small quantities.
Sweet Red Wines
Plain-old, sweet red wines can be found under the following names: Port, Banyuls, and Maury. These wines are still very far right on the sweet spectrum, and are recommended to use as dessert wines only. According to Wine Folly, these wines can contain intense flavors of berries, jam, and chocolate. There is still a high quantity of sugar in these wines that has not been fermented into alcohol, and the wine will appear to be dark raspberry-colored.
Semi-Sweet Red Wines
Wine begins to dry up a tad when you see a bright-red color paired with a slightly lighter body in comparison to the darker, thicker dessert wines. The color in semi-sweet wines is undoubtedly the brightest out of all other forms of wine, but keep in mind: Rosè does not count here because Rosè is actually not red wine.
With semi-sweet red wines, names like Lambrusco and Brachetto Da’cqui begin to appear, sporting notes of candied fruit and flowers. Have a full glass of these flavors without overdoing the sugar; semi-sweet table wines are a charm to have on a sunny afternoon.
Dry Red Wines
Wine just begins to transform from sweet to dry when you begin to see names like: Shiraz, Malbec, Monastrell, American Petite Sirah, Primitivo, or Zinfadel. The color of the wine begins to darken a shade or two, and sports notes of fruit sauce and vanilla.
Even Drier Red Wines
Most popular red wines range from dry to bone-dry. A few popular drier than dry, but not quite bone-dry reds include: Valpolicella, Mencia, French Syrrah, French Merlot, and Burgundy. These are at the upper-dry spectrum of dry, and contain notes of tart fruit or flowers. The color of this wine is a deep, pure red.
Bone Dry Red Wines
Some of the most popular, driest red wines include: Tempranillo, Moltepulciano, and Chianti. These wines are very dark, and reddish brown in color. Flavor notes include a bitter finish, and savory notes.
Where do you fall in your wine preferences? Use the spectrum of red wines from sweet to dry to set up a tasting and find out. To set up a proper tasting, it is recommended to find a solid house wine from your local winery, and use it to compare complex flavors from other wines. Happy tasting, and enjoy finding the perfect wine for your occasion!