Some people get set on a specific grape type or wine region when choosing red wines. I encourage people to try different types of red wines and to keep an open mind.
One red wine I would recommend is an Australian Shiraz (Shiraz is the grape type). Remember, New World wines are labelled by their grape type, not the region where the grapes are grown. Australian Shiraz wines are generally bold, very fruity with lots of flavour and drink well right out of the bottle. They can be very reasonably priced, easy to find and there is not a tremendous amount of variation from year to year, so you don’t have to be as concerned about the vintage of the wine.
I would also suggest a Pinot Noir, which is a lighter red wine. B.C. makes great Pinot Noir wines, which have tastes of cherry and are characteristically lighter in tannin level. Some people find Pinot Noirs acidic or tart/sour but they are normally very aromatic wines.
If you like something heavier, then try a Zinfandel from the USA. Zinfandels are normally very high in alcohol content, have heavy tannins and the taste of dark fruit. So if you enjoy the Australian Shiraz, kick it up a notch and see if you like the Zinfandel even more. If you liked the Pinot Noir over the Shiraz, you are most likely not going to like the Zinfandel.
Ready to try some Old World wines? People love Italian wines and a simple type of Italian wine to try is Chianti. Old World wines are labelled by region, not grape variety, so Chianti is actually a region in Italy, not a grape type. In order for a bottle of wine to be labelled as a Chianti, the wine must be made mostly using the Sangiovese grape. I find Chianti wines have some of the characteristics of Pinot Noir wines (tart with cherry flavours), but they are heavier and more alcoholic. While I would sometimes have a Pinot Noir wine just by itself as a sipping wine, I usually have Chianti wines with food, as they are not that fruity. Having a Chianti with classic Italian dishes that have a lot of tomatoes and fruitiness is a wonderful pairing.
How about French wine? I would suggest Southern Rhone wines from the Cotes du Rhone region. These are fairly inexpensive, easy to find wines that are made mostly with Grenache grapes and some Syrah grapes (another name for the Shiraz grape used in Australia). Compared to the Australian Shiraz, this French wine will not be as fruity, but will be more earthy in taste and aromas.
Now it is time for you to go out and experiment with red wines! Since I have mentioned five different kinds of wines above, here are some suggestions:
- Australian Shiraz – try Two Hands 2016 Angels Share Shiraz, priced at $29.99. Good quality producer and great out of the bottle.
- B.C. Pinot Noir – there are many nice B.C. Pinot Noirs. Try Red Rooster 2017 Pinot Noir. It is listed at $19.99.
- USA Zinfandel – try Ravenswood 2016 Zinfandel Vintners Blend. Listed at $15.99. Heavy and lots of alcohol content.
- Chianti – try Gabbiano Cavaliere D’Oro. Listed at $14.99 and a great wine with food.
- Southern Rhone – try Perrin Cotes Du Rhone Reserve. Listed at $17.99.
Until next time, happy drinking!
Tony Kwan is the Richmond News' new columnist. Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.