If you are new to wine, you may feel overwhelmed by the choices on your supermarket shelves. If so, we are here to help. In this article, we will be looking at seven varietals of red wine which will introduce you to wine and will help you to your palate.
The Attributes of Easy To Drink Red Wines
The most important attribute of easy to drink wines is that they are smooth and glide down easily. Wine beginners tend to prefer wines with low tannins. Tannins are chemical compounds found in grapes that give the wine a dry, somewhat bitter flavour. You can get a mouth-drying sensation and this can be off-putting to people new to wine. If you are looking for an easy to drink wine, choose one with low tannins as you will find it softer.
Wines with straightforward fruit flavours are also easy to drink. Look for wines with aromas and tastes of berries, plums, and cherries. Moderate acidity is also important as you might be put off by a tart and sour wine. In addition, don’t spend too much on a bottle of wine when you are starting on your wine journey as you may not like it. Experiment first with inexpensive wines. Inexpensive doesn’t mean low quality and you can find many reasonably priced wines that are very drinkable.
Our Recommended Easy To Drink Red Wines
1 – Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine there is, and it is produced the world over in different climates. You will find that cold climate Cabernet Sauvignons will have more herbaceous and vegetal notes while warm climate Cabernet Sauvignons are jammier.
This varietal is often the first red wine beginners try. It is widely available in both supermarkets and wine merchants and is often the house wine in restaurants.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold, full bodied wine with notes of blackcurrant, blackberry, pencil shavings, herbs and baking spices. It is a dry wine with medium acidity and medium tannins. Because of the medium tannins, it is best drunk with food rather than on its own. It pairs well with meaty dishes such as steak, venison, roast beef, ostrich, squab, lamb, and duck. You can pair it with cheese but make sure they are packed full of flavour Try aged Cheddar, Manchego, or Grana Padano.
Recommendation – Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine is high in alcohol at 14.5%. It is a deep red wine with a purple hue. On the nose, you will get aromas of blackcurrant, plum, subtle oak, and bell pepper. On the palate, you will get dark berry fruits such as blackcurrant and blackberry, as well as fresh leafy flavours. It pairs well with steak and chips and beef stroganoff.
2 – Pinot Noir
If you would prefer a wine that is not full bodied like Cabernet Sauvignon, try Pinot Noir. It is a dry red wine, with bright acidity, silky tannins, and an alcohol content between 12 and 15%. It has complex flavours including cherry, raspberry, and mushroom. If it is aged in French oak, you will get hints of vanilla and baking spices.
When it comes to pairing food with Pinot Noir, choose leaner meats and poultry. It pairs well with grilled meats that have a sweet and smoky barbecue flavour. Don’t choose rich or spicy foods as they will overpower the wine. Pinot Noir also goes well with pasta and roasted vegetables, lean meats, and pesto sauces. The perfect match for Pinot Noir is the mushroom. Try mushroom risotto or stuffed mushrooms. It also goes well with stinky cheeses like Blue Stilton and Gorgonzola.
Recommendation – Mudhouse Central Otago Pinot Noir
This wine has a low alcohol content of 13.5%. It is solely produced at Mudhouse’s vineyard in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago, New Zealand. The soil conditions there make it ideal for growing Pinot Noir grapes and the varying daily temperatures contribute to the structure and concentration of the wine.
The Mudhouse Central Otago Pinot Noir has fragrant aromas of cherry and dried herbs, complemented by oak and spice. It has fine acidity and polished fruit and oak tannins. It is a smooth wine and easy to drink.
A delightful dish to serve this wine with is a rack of lamb, served with oven-roasted potatoes, green vegetables, and homemade gravy.
3 – Shiraz/Syrah
Shiraz and Syrah are produced from the same grape but come from different regions. Shiraz wine is produced in Australia and Syrah is produced everywhere else. Syrah originated in the Old World in France. Shiraz tends to be more intense than Syrah.
You might prefer to start with Syrah as it is a lighter, leaner, and more elegant wine than Shiraz. Its taste features black and red fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, and cherries, smoky bacon, herbs, and pepper. Shiraz is more full bodied and has jammy aromas and flavours. It also has notes of beef jerky and bacon. The alcohol content of Syrah is lower than Shiraz. It is usually between 13 and 13.5% while Shiraz is between 14 and 15.5%. Syrah is also much lower in tannins.
The best food pairings with Syrah and Shiraz are red meats, especially barbecued meats. Try streak, roast lamb, burgers, ribs, or brisket. The difference between them comes with seasonings and sauces. Syrah pairs with mint, bay leaves, and red sauces. Shiraz goes well with rosemary and black pepper.
Recommendation – 19 Crimes ‘The Banished’ Syrah
This Syrah has an alcohol content of 13.5%. It is a dark red wine with purple hues. You will get aromas of vanilla and dark chocolate, with a subtle hint of cloves and cinnamon. You will taste a certain sweetness with ripe dark berries such as blackcurrants and blackberries. It is best served slightly chilled.
This wine pairs well with beef stew, grilled salmon steak, and even chocolate desserts made with dark chocolate.
4 – Merlot
Merlot is similar in style to Cabernet Sauvignon. In Bordeaux, France, the two wines are often blended. The grape is easy to grow and has become one of the world’s favourite wines. It is made from red-skinned grapes which can adapt to different climates. The grapes are grown in both the Old World, like France and Italy and the New World, like Australia and the US.
Merlot tastes mainly of dark fruits such as plums, black cherries, and blackberries. It has herbal notes, with hints of vanilla, coffee and chocolate. It is a medium to full bodied wine, with moderate acidity and soft tannins.
Merlot pairs well with meat stews, roasted vegetables, and roast poultry. It is a good accompaniment to a cheese board. Good choices are aged Cheddar, aged Gouda, Blue Stilton, Gorgonzola, Camembert, and Brie.
Recommendation – Barefoot Merlot
This is a good choice as it is produced in California. California Merlots have softer tannins than colder-climate Merlots. It is a rich and full bodied wine with flavours of juicy blackberries, raspberries, and rich chocolate. It has a smooth finish.
This wine pairs well with beef, poultry, hard and stinky cheeses, and pasta with tomato sauce. It also goes well with dark chocolate desserts.
5 – Malbec
Malbec has always been produced in the Bordeaux region of France and is now based in Cahors. Here, the terrain is better for growing grapes than in other areas in Bordeaux. Malbec grapes do have a problem with mildew and rotting so they do better in warm climates. It has become popular in Argentina where it has become the most planted grape in the country.
Malbec is dry, full bodied, and has aromas of blackberry and red plum. They are juicy and jammy wines with hints of dark chocolate, oak, tobacco, and vanilla. They have medium acidity and moderate tannins. French Malbec is earthier than Argentinian Malbec which has floral notes.
Malbec pairs well with smoky and spice-rubbed red meat. Try it with sirloin steak, lamb chops, or braised pork. It also goes well with mushroom dishes, especially if the mushroom is portobello. When it comes to cheese, it pairs with blue cheese and soft stinky cheeses. Meaty lasagne or ravioli are good pasta choices for Malbec.
Recommendation – Monts & Vaux Malbec
This wine is produced in a picturesque region in the southwest of France. It is full bodied and has fruity aromas and tastes. It is packed with blueberry and blackberry fruits and a hint of spice on the finish. The tannins are rounded and are not overpowering.
Monts & Vaux Malbec pairs with red meat, especially steak. It is also a good wine to serve at a barbecue. It pairs well with stews such as chilli con carne and lamb tagine. Try it with a stinky cheese like Camembert of Blue Stilton.
6 – Lambrusco
Now for something a little different; a lightly sparkling red wine called Lambrusco. It is Italian and originates in the Emilia-Romagna region in the north-central area of Italy. It is available as a dry, semi-sweet, or sweet wine. The best Lambruscos are dry or semi-sweet as the sweet version can often be too sweet. It can vary in colour from light red to deep purple. It is low in alcohol compared to most wines, usually being around 7 to 8% in content. It has a bright acidity but tannins can vary. Some Lambruscos are light bodied and are low in tannins, while others are full bodied and higher in tannins. It is fruit-forward with notes of blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, strawberries, and dark cherries. Some varieties can have floral notes, as well as tastes of pink grapefruit, rhubarb, baking spices, and pepper. There can also be aromas of raisins, spices, and almonds.
You won’t be surprised to hear that this wine pairs well with Italian dishes such as pizza and pasta. Try it with a charcuterie board that has aged meats, prosciutto, and parma ham. It also goes well with a cheese board. Parmigiano Reggiano is a good choice of cheese. Add some briny olives and fresh bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sweet Lambrusco complements fruit desserts like apple pie or pear Tarte tatin.
Serve this wine chilled and young.
Recommendation – Sant’Orsola Lambrusco Emilia
This wine is low in alcohol at 7.5%. It is ruby red in colour with a violet hue. The nose is delicate, with hints of violet and fruit. On the palate, it is very fruity. You will taste blackberries and raspberries. It is a fresh, medium-bodied wine with low tannins.
Sant’Orsola Lambrusco Emilia is a great wine served as an aperitif. You can drink it with a first course such as smoked salmon and avocado or stuffed mushrooms. It’s a great party wine and is also a good accompaniment to pizza. It can also be served with a fruity dessert.
7 – Beaujolais Nouveau
Our final wine is unique. It is a French wine made from the Gamay grape. It is bottled just six to eight weeks after harvest and is meant to be drunk straight away. If you want to try this wine, look out for it in November and be quick. It is very popular and doesn’t last long on the shelves.
This wine is perfect for those who don’t like tannins as Beaujolais Nouveau has very few. However, the lack of tannins means that it doesn’t last long in the bottle, so another reason to drink it soon after purchase.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a light bodied wine making it easy to drink. It has bright and fresh red fruit flavours such as raspberry, strawberry, and cherry. There are also hints of banana, pear, and fig. It tastes more like grapes than any other red wine. Because it is light, it should be served chilled at 13C. It doesn’t need to be aerated. Just open it and pour.
When considering what to pair Beaujolais Nouveau with, avoid rich and spicy food as it is too light to stand up to such flavours. It is a good accompaniment to finger food, a charcuterie board, salty crackers and a cheese board. Soft and semi-soft cheeses pair best. Choose feta, brie, and camembert. It will also complement fish and light chicken dishes. When it comes to a dessert, choose one with nuts, such as pecan pie.
Recommendation – Joseph Droutin
This wine is released on the third Thursday of November every year, so you need to be prepared so that it doesn’t sell out before you get to the supermarket. It is ruby red with violet highlights. The aromas are of red fruits and there is a hint of cloves. When you taste it, you will savour blackberry, cherry, and blackcurrant. It is a smooth wine, with light acidity, low tannins and an aftertaste of jam.
It should be served chilled and is delicious with a charcuterie board, a cheese board, and pate with melba toast.
We hope that you have enjoyed reading about our top seven easy to drink wines and are feeling inspired to try some of them. To sum up, Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red wine in the world but if you find it too high in tannins, choose the lighter Pinot Noir. Merlot is similar to Cabernet Sauvignon but is lighter and fruitier. If you want a big fruit hit, go for Syrah or Shiraz. Malbec is another fruity wine while Lambrusco is refreshing and light, the perfect party drink. In November, treat yourself to Beaujolais Nouveau. It only comes around once a year and is worth sampling.