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Wine Guide

The Most Popular Types (Varietals) of
Red Homemade Wine

Pinot Noir Grapes

This Wine Guide is meant to be an introduction to the most popular types (varietals) of red homemade wine. Each wine has its own unique characteristics in terms of aroma and flavour. Choosing a wine to make can be a little intimidating to the beginner so hopefully this list of red wines will help to make your decision easier. Each red wine has a brief description of its characteristics. The juice or grapes available to make these homemade wines may depend on your location. Some areas have them all, others may only have a limited selection.

To ensure you make a red homemade wine you like, buy a bottle and try it before you begin if possible. Remeber, your homemade wine will not taste exactly the same as wine from a winery but should be close enough.

Wine Types (Varietals)

Barbera is a red wine, medium to heavy body, with a great ruby red colour and flavours of berry. The flavours of Barbera wine become more full and complex as it ages. Barbera is one of the most food friendly wines. Low tannins in the wine will not overpower food. The acidity in this wine complements many foods. Any meal with a tomatoe sauce is a perfect match with Barbera.

Barolo is one of the world's cherished red wines and it has been called the "king of wine" and the "wine of kings." It is deep in colour, high in tannin, full-bodied and robust. Barolo is an example of a wine that gets better and better with age and should be aged properly for several months before enjoying. The wines are often paired with meat dishes, heavy pastas and rich risottos.

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Franc is one of the major red grape varieties worldwide and is lighter with lower tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a plum coloured red wine. The wines tend to be fruitier, more refreshing, and can be enjoyed young or aged. You can enjoy Cabernet Franc with any red meat plus the entire range of white meats cooked in any fashion.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is known as one of the world's finest red wines, with its depth of complexity and richness of flavour. This great red wine is aromatic, deep ruby in colour with bold tannins and a fantastic bouquet. It makes the most dependable candidate for aging, more often improving into a truly great wine than any other single varietal. Some good Cabernet Sauvignon pairings include grilled steak, lamb and strong cheeses.

Merlot is softer, fruitier, and earlier-maturing than cabernet sauvignon, yet displays many of the same aromas and flavours. It is less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon and its softness makes this a very easy drinking red homemade wine. Like cabernet, merlot is a good accompaniment to simply prepared beef and lamb dishes.

The perfect Italian everyday wine. It is typically a fruity, dry wine with soft tannins, and as such can be consumed young or aged for several months. If aged by the winery for more than two years, the wine may be labelled "Riserva." This red homemade wine goes well with roasted white meats, red meats, game, and aged cheeses.

Petite Sirah
Petite Sirah also known as Durif, is a cross between the red grapes Syrah and Peloursin and should not be confused with the Shiraz / Syrah variety. It is a dark, rich red wine that has flavours of plum, raspberry, blackberries, and black pepper. The wine tends to go well with stronger meats - game, beef, lamb, and spicy sauces. Petite Sirah can be aged for a more mellow flavour - its high tannin content makes long aging worthwhile.

Pinot Noir
This popular grape variety has rich, complex aromas with a velvety flavour full of spices and friut. It is full-bodied and rich but not heavy, yet neither acidic nor tannic. Pinot does not have the longevity in the bottle of the darker red wines and tends to reach its peak at five to eight years past the vintage. Dishes that match well with Pinot Noir include roasted and braised preparations of lamb, pheasant, duck, and a good cut of plain roast beef as well as grilled meaty fish, such as salmon, shark, and swordfish. Best are foods that are simple and rich. Go easy on the spices, some of which may mask the delicate flavors of pinot noir.

Ruby Cabernet
Ruby Cabernet is a hybrid between the Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan grapes. It is an easy to drink medium-bodied red wine with good colour and a pleasant cherry flavour. The wines that are made from this grape may not possess the distinguishing flavour and structure of a Cabernet Sauvignon but they do manage to exhibit some of the fruity aromatics. Serve this wine with tomatoe-based lamb dishes and turkey. Definitely food from the grill like steak, burgers or tuna. Even chilli con carne with crusty bread or a bowl of spaghetti with tomatoe-based sauce.

Shiraz / Syrah
Shiraz is a deep, dark red wine with intense flavours and excellent longevity able to mature and age for a long time. It is known for its spicy blackberry, plum, and peppery flavours. Shiraz goes very well with beef and other hearty foods (wild game, stews, etc.). It also goes well with Indian, Mexican, and other spicy foods.

The colour of a zinfandel wine is deep red, bordering on black. Zinfandel is a full-bodied spicy, peppery wine, with a hint of fruity flavour - berries or dark cherries are often the taste range. This wine can be served with spicy pizza, heavily seasoned meats, or any tomatoe-and-spice based dishes. You can drink zinfandels young - within a year or two - but there are also quite a few zinfandels that age well with the flavour becoming far more mellow.

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