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Explore the Top 9 Red Wine Grape Varieties

Red wine is made from red wine grape varieties and gains its color from elongated contact with the grape’s dark skins during the fermentation process. Red wine often takes on the tannins from prolonged contact with the grapes skin. The tannin compounds found in the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes provides the structure and texture to create fuller bodied wines.

Famous Red Wine Grape Varieties

Ready to expand your palate and discover the world of red wines? Whether you are looking to enhance your wine knowledge or a newcomer to the world of wine – the list below offers you a number of famous red wine grape varieties and includes the primary flavors and colors of each variety, along with the description how each feels in your mouth.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is known as the king of the red wine. This grape variety is grown in almost every top wine producing region globally.

Dominant Flavors:

Cassis, mint, cedar


Purple with a tinge of sienna


Generous, rich, full-bodied

You May Also Like: Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Tempranillo


Merlot is the most common counterpart of Cabernet Sauvignon and a popular grape choice used for varietal wines

Dominant Flavors:

Raspberry, red plum, tea leaves




Silky, medium to full body

You May Also Like: Grenache, Sangiovese, Dolcetto


The name differs based on where it is planted. Syrah grape varieties are planted in the U.S. and Europe while Shiraz grape varieties are grown south of the Equator.

Dominant Flavors:

Berries, smoked meat, pepper and tar


Deep eggplant


Plush and velvety

You May Also Like: Petite Syrah and red blends from the Rhone Valley of France

Pinot Noir

This grape is known as the most elegant of red wine grapes and known to produce some of the world’s finest wines. Primarily grown in cooler regions Pinot Noir is one of the most challenging grapes to cultivate and make wine from.

Dominant Flavors:

Red berries, earth, tobacco




Smooth, light to medium body

You May Also Like: Gamay, Nebbiolo, Mourvedre


These grapes produce a robust, full flavored red wine. The warm California climate has proven to be idea for this the sweet and rich Zinfandel grape – one of the region’s oldest grapes.

Dominant Flavors:

Blackberry, raspberry, spicy


Inky raspberry


Lush and jammy full body

You May Also Like: Shiraz, Carmenere


Although Cabernet Sauvignon is noted the king of red wine, Sangiovese is know as the red wine king of Tuscany, Italy. This grape is the primary grape grown in central Italy. Commonly used to make the modern “Super Tuscan” wines.

Dominant Flavors:

Cherry, violet, warm earth


Brick red


Smooth with a medium to full body

You May Also Like: Nebbiolo, Barbera


This grape is easily a ‘Jack of all trades’ – most widely planted grape variety in the world and different region to region.

Dominant Flavors:

Bright cherry, raspberry


Bright ruby


Flexible, silky smooth, to rich and luscious

You May Also Like: Pinot Noir, Gamay


Originally introduced in France, this traditional Bordeaux blending grape made a huge comeback in Argentina and grown in the U.S in both California and Oregon still primarily as a blending grape.

Dominant Flavors:

Rich red berry


Electric purple


Rich, powerful, full body often chewy in texture

You May Also Like: Shiraz, reds from the Priorat region of Spain


Grown in several regions in Northern Italy, this is the sole grape used to create Italy’s famous high-end Barolo and Barbaresco wines while also used to make some great, more affordable fine wines as well.

Dominant Flavors:

Candied cherry, violets, earth


Brick red with a sienna hue


Soft and velvety, medium to full body

You May Also Like: Pinot Noir, Red Blends from the Rhone region of Franc

We would love to hear your favorites.

You are invited to visit our spacious wine bar where we always feature a variety of red and white wine options from various regions. Our experts will help you expand your palate and explore the world one glass of wine at a time.

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