Red Wines

Red Wines

There are a countless number of red grape varieties in the world, some able to make wine, others best suited for the Welch’s factory. Right now, the world wine market focuses on about 40 – 50 different red wine grape varieties, the most widely recognized and used listed below.

What differentiates red wine from white is first, the skin color of the grape, and second, the amount if time the grape juice has with its skins. After picking, red grapes are put into tanks or barrels where they marinate with their skins for a bit, absorbing the pigments and other aspects of the skin (think tannins). This is how red wine gets its red color. The exact color, which can range from light red to almost purple, depends on both the color of the particular grape skin and the amount of time it sits with the skins. Remember, the inside of almost all grapes is a light, golden color – it’s the skins that have the pigment. For example, much of Champagne is made from Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier, both red grapes. Yet because it spends so little time on its skins, the color of the Champagne is often white.

The list below is roughly organized from lighter-bodied to fuller-bodied, lower tannins to higher tannins and light color to deeper color – but note that this is not an “always” list, just a general guideline. Remember, European and old-world countries tend to label their wine by region, while new world wine is most often labeled with grape variety.

Grapes Where they grow best
Gamay Beaujolais, France
Pinot Noir Burgundy, France; California; Oregon; Champagne, France
Tempranillo Spain
Sangiovese Tuscany, Italy
Grenache/Garnacha Rhone, France; Spain; Australia
Merlot Bordeaux, France; California; Washington State, Chile
Zinfandel California
Cabernet Sauvignon Bordeaux, France; California; South America
Nebbiolo Piedmont, Italy
Syrah/Shiraz Rhone, France; Australia; South Africa; California; Washington State

Other popular red grapes and where they grow best:


Grapes Where they grow best
Carmenere Chile
Malbec Argentina; France
Mourvedre France; Australia; California
Petit Sirah California