What Are the Different Kinds of Red Wine?

What Are the Different Kinds of Red Wine?

Red wine varies from white wine because the grape skins are left on – rather than removed – when they are fermented into wine. Tannins in the grape skins soak into the juice while they ferment. This results in a deep red, purple, and maroon colored alcoholic beverages.

This process results in a vast variety of red wine types that vary in color, flavor, and aroma. Red wines can also be dry, semi-dry, or sweet. Here are some of the more popular kinds of red wine, accompanied with descriptions of flavor, scents, their place of origin, and what foods they pair with best.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Incredibly popular in the United States, this common full-bodied red wine is known for its easily grown grapes, adding to its popularity. Cabernet Sauvignon originated in the Bordeaux wine region in France. This red wine is high in tannins, acidity, and alcohol content, with green pepper and dark cherry flavors. When aged in oak barrels, it acquires a hint of vanilla flavor. Pair this wine with lamb, pastas with red sauce, and beef dinners.


This very deep, dark red wine began as a blending grape in France’s Bordeaux wine region, though has become a pure wine considered a national variety in Argentina. Malbec is a full-bodied dry red wine with high tannin levels that can be tasted, as well as a strong blackberry, black cherry, and plum flavors, sometimes with a tobacco aftertaste. Pair a glass of Malbec with heavy meals like steak and lamb, or a dark chocolate dessert.


This red wine variety derived from black-skinned grapes originated in Croatia, though they are popularly grown in Northern California. Zinfandel is a medium-bodied beverage with many fruity jam flavors, such as blackberries and raspberries. The tannin levels vary, meaning it can be heavy and also light and fruity, with a cherry and chocolate aroma. Zinfandel pairs well with burgers, barbecued meat, and casseroles.

Pinot Noir

Despite what you may think from its name, Pinot Noir has less tannins and is a lighter shade of red than some of the other wines listed. The variety originated in France’s Burgundy wine region. It has a medium body and fruity flavor, with cherry, raspberry, and strawberry aromas alongside a silk texture, making for a pleasant drinking experience. Pinot Noir is best paired with salmons, poultry, and dishes with mushrooms.


Originating in the warm Chianti region of Tuscany, this dry red Italian wine has a rustic flavor loaded with tannins that will dry your mouth out, making it perfect for pairing with heavy meals. Chianti both smells and tastes like strawberries and cherries. It goes well with many different Italian foods, such as pasta with red sauce, lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, and pungent toppings such as garlic and lemons.


A red wine with a rich, dark red color made from dark blue grapes, Merlot was first recorded in Venice, Italy. With a fruity, earthy flavor rich with tastes of black currant, it has a high alcohol content and full body. There is a light floral aroma. This red wine pairs with a wide range of different foods, from beef and pork, to turkey, lamb and vegetable meals. 


The robust red wine Syrah originated in the Rhone wine region is France, though it has grown quite popular in Australian vineyards. A dark, spicy and medium-bodied wine, Syrah has a light, fruity flavor that has a slight bite with notes of pepper and smoke. Pair this red win with spicy or grilled meats, lamb, beef, and sausages.