Red Wine - An Overview
All wines are made from some variety or strain of grapes. Red wine is made using the juice of grapes that are normally purple to dark red in colour. The actual colour of the grapes is important, as there will normally be some sort of variation in colour with red wines. The colour of the wine is the result of leaving these reddish/purplish skins with the juice that comes from the wine-making process. This is in contrast to white wines, where the skins are actually removed from the juice. Because the skins are left, it gives the wine a source of tannins, which is crucial to the aging process. Unlike white wines which do not have these, the tannins in red wine allow it to be cellared and stored for much longer periods than white wines. Also, the tannins allow the taste of the red wines to improve greatly with age.
History of Red Wine
Like wine in general, red wine has had a very long and distinguished history. There is evidence that production of red wine dates back as far as 8000 BC and Georgia, with other notable areas in Iran and Armenia between 6000-7000 years BC. Quite a history I’m sure you'd agree! Until the 1940s, the process for making wine, especially red wine, was pretty much the same. There was little variation between wine makers. However, it was during this period that these wine makers started to experiment and change parts of the process to see what would result. In the end, the consumer was the ultimate winner, as vineyards could produce slightly different (and optimized) versions of the same type of wine. For example, a merlot produced from one vineyard may taste different from a vineyard producing merlot from the same area simply because of slight differences in production. Winemakers can inject subtle flavours into their wines, or it may be a matter of removing the skins sooner in the process that can impart a different taste. Winemakers are continually experimenting with new techniques that will set their wines apart from all the others!
Major types of Red Wines available today
There are numerous red wines available today, all of which have slight differences in taste and intensities. However, here is a quick summary of the more popular varieties
Cabernet Sauvignon - This is one of the most popular varieties of red wine today. It is grown pretty much anywhere in the world where red wine is produced in a wide range of climates. Despite it's popularity and market share, the grape that is used to produce it is relatively new. It was the product of an accidental cross between the Cabernet franc and the Sauvignon blanc grapes sometime in the 17th century in France. One of the main reasons why it is so popular is that the resulting grape is quite easy to grow in a range of climates, plus the skins are thick and the vines have a high degree of frost and rot resistance.
Merlot - Even though the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is very popular, the Merlot grape is the most popular variety grown in France. Despite this, it still ranks behind Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of world production. Its origins date from 1784 in the Bordeaux region of France. It is a very versatile wine and is also used to blend various wines to make up new and exciting tastes. It is recognised by being much lighter in flavour to Cabernet Sauvignon and generally does not have a heavy oak influence during production.
Shiraz, or Syrah - Another extremely popular variety of wine that is grown in many different regions, particularly in Australia, where it is the most popular wine variety in the country. This variety is the result of a cross between Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche grapes. The actual origins are unclear, as it is thought by some to have originated in the Iranian city of Shiraz and then brought to the Rhone region of France. The taste tends to be quite strong and full-bodied compared to other red wines. However, it is also a very popular wine for blending.
Pinot Noir - Another very popular wine variety is the Pinot Noir. It is grown all over the world, but it is chiefly cultivated in the cooler regions. This variety of wine tends to be quite dark ("noir" in French translates into "black") and is mostly associated with the Burgundy wine region of France and is considered by many experts to produce some of the best red wines in the world. However, it comes with a cost, as this variety of grape tends to be more difficult to grow and transform into wine. Scientists believe that this variety of grape is quite ancient, and probably differs little from the original wild version.There are other numerous types of red wines produced around the world, with new types entering the market on a regular basis. TheWineSpot.org aims to keep you, the wine enthusiast, updated with all the latest information, reviews and techniques from the wine world. So why not grab a glass of your favourite red wine and explore our site for some great wine knowledge.