If you like variety; then wine tasting is for YOU! There are literally thousands of different grape varieties. I have been studying wine for over a decade and there are still many varieties I look forward to tasting for the first time! Wine study is truly a life time pursuit. While this is all true you can learn three lessons about red grape varieties and you will be savvy in about ninety percent of the red wine you will encounter...
First; the most popular grape for red wine making is Cabernet Sauvignon. Some people drink this one wine far more than any other red variety, if not exclusively drinking this one. If you focus on this one red grape variety and the wines made from it and you will have the majority covered. Cabernet Sauvignon makes wines that are POWERFUL and structured and while each and every one may not deliver on the big body and heft many red wine drinkers are looking for it will deliver a full body red wine experience.
Second; there are numerous alternatives Syrah / Shiraz is EXPRESSIVE and flavorful, and Merlot is SUCCULENT, often jammy, with fruit flavors being dominate and Pinot Noir is SOPHISTICATED, complex and light-bodied. And there are many others, however the vast majority of wine being consumed in North America today is made from these four red varieties.
Third; The body of red wine is a great place to begin talking to guest about wine. With Pinot Noir being the lightest, Merlot and Syrah / Shiraz being in the medium to full body territory with Cabernet Sauvignon also being in the medium to full body area and often producing some of the fullest body wines available. But, please don't think that is only about recommending the fullest body red. Not every wine drinker is as into "big reds" as they say, enjoying wine is more about the experience. Which is why I have associated "EXPERIENTIAL DESCRIPTORS" in all caps with each variety. If you will use these buzzwords when describing wine to your guests you will begin to sound like a wine expert!!!
With a good basic understanding of these four red grapes you can are prepared for most of the red wines you will encounter.
To see an excellent short list of the thousands of different grape varieties go to the Kobrand web site here.
More to come on these great wines...
And please reply to this blog; what is your favorite wine?