How does red wine taste?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “how does red wine taste?” with an in-depth analysis of how red wine tastes. Moreover, we will also discuss different factors which affect the taste of red wine along with how different red wines differ in taste.

How does red wine taste?

Red wine is a fruity and spicy drink made from dark-colored grapes. Red wines are typically dry, with a more intense flavor and tartness. As they are made by fermenting grape juice into alcohol, then adding sugar to balance the taste of the acidic fruit sugars, they vary in taste from sweet to sour.

How do different red wines taste?

  • Cabernet Franc

Flavor profile: Violets, blueberry, earth, black olive, coffee

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Cabernet Franc is part of the essential blending triad that makes up the majority of the Bordeaux blend (and Meritage) red wines produced in the United States. On its own, Cabernet Franc is a more tannic, earthy cousin to Cabernet Sauvignon. 

In warmer sites outside of Europe, its most distinctive attributes are its pure notes of violets and blueberry, and its ripe tannins often carry the scent of freshly roasted coffee. It is made as a varietal in Chinon, Bourgueil, and Saumur-Champigny, where it is hard and tannic and can evoke an austere minerality. 

In Pomerol and Saint-Émilion, it is featured in blends with Merlot, adding a spicy, pungent, sometimes minty note.

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

Flavor profile: Bell pepper, green olive, herb, cassis, black cherry

In Bordeaux and Tuscany, Cabernet Sauvignon is almost always blended to soften its intensely astringent tannins. The Napa-style is dense, purple-black, and tasting of currants and black cherries. Thick and ripe, layered with expensive new oak scents and flavors, it has almost single-handedly created the phenomenon of the cult wineries. 

  • Gamay

Flavor profile: Strawberry, raspberry, cherry

The grape of Beaujolais, Gamay, is often made to be drunk quite young and shows bright, tangy, fruit-driven flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and sweet cherries. When made by the method known as carbonic maceration, young Gamay has a slight effervescence and a distinct smell of bananas. Beaujolais Nouveau, released each year shortly after harvest, is the most famous example.

  • Grenache/Garnacha

Flavor profile: Spice, cherry

Old vine Grenache makes some of the greatest red wines of both Spain and Australia and is an important component of Châteauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, and Côtes du Rhône in France. An early-ripening grape tends toward high alcohol and low acidity. At its best it creates very fruity, spicy, bold-flavored wines somewhat reminiscent of a softer, less-intense version of Syrah.

  • Malbec

Flavor profile: Sour cherry, spice

One of the blending grapes of Bordeaux, Malbec has risen to prominence in Argentina, where it makes spicy, tart red wines that take well to aging in new oak barrels. 

  • Merlot

Flavor profile: Fruity, watermelon, strawberry, cherry, plum

Merlot is the Chardonnay of reds, easy to pronounce, easy to like, agreeable, and versatile, but mostly lacking any substantive character of its own. The great exception is Chateau Pétrus, where it comprises 95 percent of the blend. 

  • Zinfandel

Flavor profile: spice, candy, 

While the Zinfandel is a light-bodied wine as compared to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the medium tannins and high acidity in it make it taste strong and bold. Often, when you sip a Zinfandel it tastes like a smooth candy, followed by a little spice and smoke. Most Zinfandel wines have higher alcohol levels ranging from about 14 – 17% ABV.

Syrah / Shiraz

Flavor profile: vanilla, red, black fruits, black pepper, blueberry

Syrah and Shiraz come from the same grape. They are differentiated in terms of region and style, based on the terroir. Winemakers in France, California, Australia, and Chile refer to the wine as Syrah whereas wines growing in warmer climates such as India and other parts of Australia are referred to as Shiraz. 

A Syrah tends to be full-bodied (but leaner than a Shiraz), dry, and full of tannins with notes such as vanilla, red and black fruits, and black pepper. If you like bold, full-bodied wines, pick a Shiraz that is full of jammy aromas such as blueberry and blackberry. Incidentally, Shiraz is one of the most popular red wine varieties in India.

What factors affect the taste of red wine?

The type of grape determines largely the flavor, color, sugar, acidity, and levels of tannin in the wine. Other conditions, namely climate, weather, sunlight, water, warmth, and nutrients also affect the taste of the wine.

What are the main factors that make red wine blend well with a meal?

While pairing red wine and food, one should consider the acidity, sweetness, weight, intensity, and tannin of the wine and analyze the texture, flavor, fat content, sweetness, and saltiness of the food that is going to accompany it.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question “how does red wine taste?” with an in-depth analysis of how red wine tastes. Moreover, we have also discussed different factors which affect the taste of red wine along with how different red wines differ in taste.

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.