Types of Red Wine – 7 Classic Grape Varieties to Know About

Cabernet Sauvignon is considered to be the most important variety because it is so easy to grow. Most dry red wines are made with this grape.

As long as it is in a warm climate, wine can be made from this variety. It is originally from Bordeaux in France, but grows nicely in Italy, Spain, California, Australia, Chile, South Africa and more.

One California winery that is famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon is the Silver Oak Winery. This is a wine that can age for about 15 years.

Taste. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make medium to full-bodied types of red wines. They are high in tannin, which is a natural preservative that comes from the skin, stems and seeds of the grape and the oak wood in which the wine is aged. A good description of what tannins taste like is “astringent.” It is the same taste that you have when drinking a cup of tea.

Studies have been done to find out whether tannins cause red wine headaches. Find out more about red wine and headaches here.

Because of the tannin in Cabernet Sauvignon, vintners tend to mix this grape with at least one other to reduce the “astringency.” Usually a Cabernet Sauvignon blend is made with merlot, as it is not as tannic and brings a nice fruity flavor to the wine.

Another great characteristic about Cabernet is that it is naturally low in sulfites.


Merlot is a much fruitier wine than Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a nice flavor, reminiscent of black currant. Merlot has a beautiful dark color, is full-bodied and is high in alcohol content. Merlot is also the most planted grape in Bordeaux and is very popular in California, Italy, Chile and other regions where Cabernet is grown.

If you like Dry Red Wines,

You Can’t Pass These Up!


Nebbiolo grapes grow in the Piedmont region of northern Italy. Barolo and Barbaresco wines are made from this grape. Barolo wine is more complex and fuller-bodied than Barbaresco that requires aging.

Barbaresco wine is a more refined, elegant Nebbiolo wine.


Sangiovese is grown in Tuscany, particularly in Chianti. Of all the types of red wine that come from Italy, Sangiovese makes Italy’s most famous red wine.

Chianti wine has some tannin, but gets nicely rounded out by fruit flavors.

Sangiovese also makes dry, tannic wines like Brunello di Monalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. They are considered to be some of the top wines from Italy and should be aged before enjoying. Look up some principles on storing red wine.


Zinfandel is a very popular variety in California. It is one of the oldest varieties grown in that region, which is probably why you can find so many different styles of this red wine type.

Tastes of Zinfandel can range from being intense with high tannins, to a lighter, fruitier type of red wine. It can have the flavor of blackberries and smell like raspberries, cherries, chocolate, coffee or oak.

Even Sweeter, Fruitier Wines:

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir has a lighter color than Cabernet or Merlot. It has less tannins and tastes like summer fruit. It has nice aromas, too. When exploring Pinot Noir, make sure to try Acacia Winery’s Pinot Noir. This winery has perfected the art of Pinot Noir through their vineyard specific wines.

California and Oregon are the best areas for Pinot Noir. Vintners in Napa, Sonoma, and the Willamette Valley of Oregon make excellent Pinot Noir wines.

Not sure which Pinot Noir to try first? Take a look at these Pinot Noir wine clubs. Let the experts send the perfect bottle to your door.


Syrah has been a very popular grape variety. It makes a very dark, full-bodied wine with a robust flavor. Australia’s Syrah (called Shiraz) has a wide range of flavors ranging from light and fruity to robust and spicy.
One question I’ve been asked a lot is: At what temperature do you serve sweet red wine? Find out what the proper serving temperature is for all red wines here.

As you can see from this shortlist, many types of red wines can be made from just a few kinds of grapes.

One way that wine professionals organize all these different types of red wines is by a red wine rating system. It is important to understand something about these ratings, but they should not stop you from trying every kind of wine that is within your price range.

That brings us to the best part:
Your enjoyment!

Now that you know what to expect from different kinds of grapes, go ahead on your journey of exploration and treat yourself to new flavors in red wines.

There is an adventure and the thrill of discovery waiting for you in every glass.