A Guide to Red Wine!
Further complicating things, some varieties are known by two different names. This is the case with shiraz or syrah grapes. European wine makers only use the name syrah, but some Australian and American vintners use the name shiraz. Typically, this kind of wine is made in France, California and Australia.
If you aren't too familiar with red wine, you may want to start off by drinking Merlot. It has a soft flavor that is easy to introduce to people who haven't had much experience with wine. It pairs with just about any food, and is made along the western coast of America, Chile, Italy and Australia, among others.
Barbera isn't as popular as Merlot is, but it has many similar attributes. It pairs well with tomato sauces and can match just about any dish. While it has an Italian origin, it's also widespread in California.
Cabernet sauvignon is generally accepted as one of the best varieties of wine, period. A wine that usually undergoes an oak treatment, it's best when paired with simply prepared red meat. Sometimes, Cabernet sauvignon has a slight vanilla flavor to it, though it comes from the oat treatment and not the fruit itself.
Pinot noir grapes are extremely difficult to grow, but the wine tastes so good it's well worth the effort. Fantastic with chicken, salmon and lamb, the wine is made in France, California, New Zealand and Austria.
Of all of the reds, Zinfandel wine is the most versatile. Zinfandel wine can be a rich and heavy red wine or it can be a light and fruity blush wine. Found only in California, it has a zesty flavor with pepper and berry.