Updated: Dec 2, 2021
We know some of you out there love softer and fruitier white wines. You would like very much to give red wines a go, but aren’t quite sure where to start. As the Christmas season rolls around, no reason to miss out on a good red, in our opinion. If you have always been a white wine drinker, here’s what to look out for if you are thinking of easing into a nice red wine, to round the year off.
For white wine lovers, what to look out for in red wine
Generally speaking, a red wine feels fuller on the mouth due to the presence of tannins and higher alcohol content. There are some lighter bodied reds that will help you ease into, such as a nice Pinot Noir. These wines tend to have a high acidity and lower alcohol content, and not very tannic, not too far off a white wine. They are best enjoyed in the same vintage (give or take a year), preferably with a nice light meal. Easy drinking red wines with around 12% ABV are a good place to start.
Some reds explode with winter wonderland notes of cherry, strawberry, plum, blueberry and blackcurrant, while whites generally bring you tropical flavours of lemon, apple, orange and peach. Contrary to other reds with earthy and oaky notes, fruit-forward reds are definitely friendlier. Again Pinot Noir comes to mind, but Merlots are also fruity early on in the vintage.
Ever felt your mouth dry up after a sip? This sensation is caused by tannins, an important structural component in red wines. During red wine fermentation, grape skins are left in the mixture to extract colour, flavour, and tannins. With whites, these skins are discarded. Not all reds are made the same and not all grape varietals have the same level of tannins. Low-tannin wines can be quite approachable, and easier on the palate as well. If you didn’t know already, white wines almost always have no tannins.
Served Cool or Chilled
White wines are almost always served cooler than reds.Chilling the wine can make tannins less prominent. Though reds are typically served at room temperature, don’t be afraid to try them at your preferred temperature. Start slow and explore from there. After all, it is the holiday season, so no reason for others to tell you what you like!
Dunstan Vintners’ Selection
Now here’s the fun part. We’ve curated 4 reds we think would be winners, and good for a holiday head start. Grab your glass and get ready to explore!
Introduce your taste buds to a fruity holiday mix with a bottle of Rosé. Black grape skins are drained from the fermenting wine after a few hours giving it it's pink color. It's served chilled and pairs well with light dishes which is similar to what white wine drinkers usually enjoy.
Made with grapes of thinner skin, these wines are generally low in tannins, which makes it a very approachable wine if you desire something light. Our New World Pinots are medium to light bodied, refreshing, fruity and enjoyable to drink when young. Depending on the region, Pinots typically have red-fruit flavours like strawberry, raspberry or red cherry.
One of the less intimidating and friendly reds out there, a good Merlot is smooth and soft on the palate, and typically dry with medium acidity and tannins. Merlot wines can be fruity, and if finished off with oak or bottle maturation, can develop complexity over time. Most Merlots for immediate consumption are enjoyable on its own for a reasonable price.
If you're a fan of approachable fuller-bodied red, a Zinfandel would be a great red choice. This medium to full-bodied red is juicy, round, not too tannic and remains fruity when chilled. While famous in California, Zinfandels are also produced in Western Australia.