Dry Red Wines – Grape Varieties

In the main, dry red wines are far more popular than sweet wines, but the grape varieties vary tremendously and which one you drink comes down to personal preference.

Bordeaux-Style Wines

Bordeaux-style wines are deep flavoured, full bodied, contain quite a lot of tannin, and are a favourite with red wine drinkers. Flavours and aromas detectable can include dark red fruits, even leather and tobacco.

The grape varieties found in Bordeaux-style wines are:

  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Carménère
  • Petit Verdot
  • Malbec


Bordeaux-style wines originated in Bordeaux, France but are produced all over the world. However, because of different soil types, wine from a Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Bordeaux will taste differently than wine from the same grape grown in California. Therefore blending with other grape types will often take place to produce exactly the flavour that the vintner wants. Bordeaux wines are a favourite for wine cellars or cabinets as the higher amount of tannins make storage for longer periods possible.

Apart from Bordeaux and California, this type of wine is also produced in Washington State, South America, Australia and parts of Italy.

Rhone-Style Wines

Rhone-style wines originated in the Rhone region of France and are fragrant and spicy with lots of fruit.

They can contain the following grape varieties:

  • Grenache
  • Syrah
  • Mouvedre
  • Roussanne
  • Cinsaut
  • Marsanne
  • Viognier (a white grape occasionally blended in very small amounts into reds to enhance the bouquet).

As well as along the Rhone, these wines are produced in parts of Spain, USA and Australia.

Burgundy-Style Wines

Burgundy-style wines are made in the Burgundy region of France and are often mentioned together with Beaujolais. They are made from Pinot Noir and/or Gamay grapes. They are softer, less tannic and smoother than Bordeaux wines and have a gentler fruit flavour, but can also be stored for a considerable time.

Other growing areas include parts of the USA, New Zealand and Australia.

More Popular Varieties

  • Zinfandel wines are usually higher in alcohol and are favoured in South America, Australia and New Zealand as well as some areas of Italy..
  • Sangiovese is best known for its appearance in Chianti which is fruity and medium bodied and can also be found in American vineyards.
  • Tempranillo grapes are used extensively in Rioja from Spain
  • Nebbiolo is well known for strong flavoured Barolo and Barbaresco from Italy

Of course there are other varieties of grape used in the production of dry red wines, but the most well known and popular covered here will be worth trying.




Selections of Bordeaux Red Wines

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Selections of Rhone-Style Wines

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Selections of Burgundy-Style Wines

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