Red wine has been enjoyed for centuries, and there are many varieties to choose from. From rich, full-bodied wines to lighter, more delicate options, there is something for every palate. However, medium-bodied red wines are often overlooked and should not be forgotten. These wines balance the fruitiness of lighter wines and the complexity of heavier ones. The best medium-bodied red wines showcase the perfect combination of tannins, acidity, and flavour profiles, making them ideal for pairing with a wide range of foods. In this guide, we explore some of the best medium-bodied red wines from around the world that wine lovers should know. Whether you are a seasoned wine connoisseur or a novice, this collection of wines is sure to tickle your taste buds and leave you wanting more.
This red wine is just right – not too light or too heavy. It has a moderate amount of tannin and a slightly higher acidity. Because of these characteristics, it goes well with various foods (except super delicate dishes). Many of these wines also have the potential to age well and get better over time.
AKA: Southern Rhone Blend, GSM* – Grenache Noir (French) – Garnacha Tinta (Spanish) – Garnatxa (Catalan) – Cannonau (Sardinia)
*Typically, Grenache accounts for the largest portion of a southern Côtes du Rhône wine.
Grenache, also called Garnacha, is a red wine grape varietal widely grown worldwide, particularly in France, Spain, Australia, and the United States. Grenache-based wines are known for their fruity, spicy, and sweet flavours, with some of the most prominent raspberry, cherry, and strawberry notes. In France, Grenache is often blended with other grapes and is used to produce Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côtes du Rhône wines. In Spain, it is often used to produce Priorat and Rioja wines. In the United States, Grenache is often used in blends but is also made into varietal wines in California and Washington. Grenache offers a medium-bodied profile with moderate tannins and high acidity, making it an excellent choice for food pairing. Grenache wine pairs well with various foods, including grilled meats, roast vegetables, hearty stews and hearty pasta dishes.
The serving temperature of Grenache/Garnacha depends on the style and region in which it was produced.
Typically, Grenache/Garnacha produced in cooler regions and a lighter style is served at a slightly lower temperature, around 16-18°C/60-64°F.
However, Grenache/Garnacha produced in warmer regions and a fuller-bodied style can be served at slightly higher temperatures, around 18-20°C/64-68°F.
This is because the fruit flavours can become muted when the wine is too cold, and the tannins can become harsh and aggressive when the wine is too warm.
It is important to note that these are general guidelines, and personal preference also plays a role. Experimenting with different serving temperatures is recommended to find what works best for each wine.
|typical young vines||medium||low||dry but fruity||medium|
AKA: Cabernet Franc – Chinon (reds) – Bourgueil (reds) – Samur (reds) – Anjou (reds) – Samur-Champigny (reds) – Breton – Bouchet – Gros Bouchet – Cabernet Franc Blauer – Cabernet Franc Crni – Cabernet Franc Nero – Cabernet Franc Noir (France) – Cabernet – Bordo – Cabernet Frank (Italy)
Cabernet Franc is a grape variety that is especially popular in France’s Loire Valley but is also grown in many other wine regions worldwide. It is often used as a blending grape, particularly in the production of Bordeaux-style blends, where it is prized for its ability to add complexity, depth and aroma to the wine. However, it is also increasingly being produced as a standalone varietal, particularly in regions like the Loire Valley in France and the North Fork of Long Island in the United States.
Cabernet Franc is known for producing medium-bodied wines with moderate acidity and tannins and a range of fruit flavours, including red cherry, black currant, raspberry, and plum. They often exhibit floral aromas and have a smooth, velvety texture. The wine can also often have hints of herbaceousness, spices flavours and vegetal notes, such as green bell pepper.
Cabernet Franc is considered a versatile grape that can produce a range of styles and flavours, from lighter, fruit-forward wines to more complex and full-bodied offerings. It is an excellent choice for food pairing, particularly with roasted meats, vegetables and herb-laden dishes.
Cabernet Franc is a red wine that is commonly enjoyed at room temperature, which is around 15-18°C/60-65°F. However, the ideal temperature can vary depending on the individual’s preference and the region of origin. Some experts suggest serving Cabernet Franc between 13-15°C/55-60°F to take advantage of the wine’s aromatic qualities.
It is essential to remember that serving temperature can significantly influence the taste profile of the wine, so it is best to try different temperatures and find the sweet spot that suits you best. A good rule of thumb is to serve Cabernet Franc slightly cooler than room temperature.
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AKA: Sangiovese – Chianti – Brunello di Montalcino* – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano** – Rosso di Montalcino – Carmignano – Morellino di Scansano – Sangiovese di Romagna – Tignanello – Flaccionello della Pieve – Sangioveto – Brunello – Prugnolo Gentile – Morellino – Nielluccio (Corsica)
*Brunello di Montalcino is a 100% sangiovese wine from southern Tuscany.
** Vino Nobile is made primarily from the Sangiovese grape varietal (known locally as Prugnolo gentile) (minimum 70%), blended with Canaiolo Nero (10%–20%) and small amounts of other local varieties such as Mammolo.
Chianti is an Italian wine made from Sangiovese grapes grown in the Chianti region, which includes parts of Tuscany and Umbria. Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety in Italy. It is grown abundantly in other regions like Emilia-Romagna and Marche.
Chianti is known for its medium-bodied, dry red wines with bright acidity and moderate tannins. Its flavour profile includes tart cherry, red plum, dried herbs, sometimes earthy undertones, and floral hints, with oak aging imparting vanilla and spice.
Chianti Classico refers to wines produced in the heartland of the Chianti region. They often display more depth, structure, and elegance than regular Chianti. Look for the label’s black rooster (Gallo Nero) symbol to identify Chianti Classico. Traditionally, Chianti wine has a “Gallo Nero” (black rooster) seal to differentiate it from imitations. The seal indicates that the wine was produced according to strict standards, including minimum Sangiovese content of 70%.
Chianti is best paired with hearty Italian cuisine, such as tomato-based pasta dishes, roasted meats, grilled vegetables, and aged cheeses like Pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano. It is also delicious on its own, as a conversation starter at dinner parties or to sip and relax after a long day.
Chianti wines can vary in aging potential. Basic Chianti is typically meant to be consumed within a few years of release, showcasing vibrant fruit flavours. However, some Chianti Classico and Chianti Riserva wines undergo longer aging, developing more complexity and tertiary flavours. Traditional Chianti winemaking emphasizes the use of large oak barrels called “botti” for aging, allowing the characteristics of Sangiovese to shine through. However, modern winemaking techniques incorporate smaller oak barrels for added complexity and subtle oak influence.
It’s important to note that the Chianti region has seen significant advancements in winemaking practices over the years, and styles can vary between different producers. Exploring various Chianti wines to find your preferred style and flavour profile is always a good idea.
The ideal serving temperature for Chianti and Sangiovese wines is between 15-20°C/60-68°F. The wine’s aromas and flavours are at their best in this temperature range, providing a balanced and smooth taste.
|Vino di Tavola (generic Sangiovese)||medium||high||dry||high|
|Brunello di Montalcino||full||high||dry||high|
AKA: Red Bordeaux (St Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Fronsac, right bank Merlot dominant) many producer names – Merlot Noir – Médoc Noir
Merlot is a red wine known for its approachable, medium-bodied character. It is one of the world’s most popular and widely planted wine grape varieties, particularly in Bordeaux in France, California in the United States, Chile, and Australia. Merlot is often used as a blending grape in Bordeaux wines, where it softens and rounds out the tannins of the more powerful Cabernet Sauvignon.
Merlot wines typically offer a smooth and round mouthfeel with black cherry, plum, and hints of chocolate and herbs. They are often described as having a velvety texture and a moderate tannin structure, varying depending on the region and winemaking methods. Merlot wines commonly exhibit fragrant aromas of ripe red fruits, such as cherries and raspberries. You may also encounter notes of blackberry, plum, herbs, and sometimes hints of vanilla or chocolate, especially when oak aging has been involved. Merlot is generally considered a medium-bodied wine, which falls between lighter-bodied wines like Pinot Noir and full-bodied wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannin levels vary depending on the winemaking style but are usually softer and smoother than more tannic red wines.
Merlot is known for its food-friendly nature. It can be enjoyed on its own or with various dishes, including roasted meats like lamb or beef, grilled vegetables, mushroom-based dishes, pasta dishes, and hearty stews. Its moderate tannins and good acidity allow it to complement various flavours without overpowering the food.
Merlot can be enjoyed both in its youth and with some aging. While many Merlot wines are intended to be consumed within a few years of release to appreciate their vibrant fruit flavours, there are also premium examples that can age beautifully, developing more complexity and subtle nuances over time.
It’s important to note that Merlot wines can vary in style depending on the region and winemaking practices. For example, Bordeaux-style Merlot wines may have more structured tannins and earthy flavours, while New World Merlot wines may emphasize fruitiness and roundness. Exploring various producers and regions can help you discover the Merlot style that suits your preferences.
The ideal serving temperature for Merlot wine is between 16-18°C/60-65°F. This temperature range will allow the wine to fully express its flavours and aromas without being too cold or too warm.
|Right Bank Bordeaux||medium||medium||dry||medium|
|warm climate , New World||full||low||dry but fruity||medium|
Red Rioja (Tempranillo)
AKA: Rioja and many different producer brand names from Rioja – Ribero del Duero – Toro, Castilla-La Mancha – Valdepeñas – Navarra (Spain) – Douro (Portugal) – Tinto Fino – Cencibel, Tinto del Pais – Tinto de Toro – Ull de Liebre (Spain) – Tinta Roriz – Tinta Aragonez (Portugal) – Tempranillo (Argentina)
Red Rioja’s typical blend will consist of approximately 60% Tempranillo and up to 20% Garnacha, with much smaller proportions of Mazuelo and Graciano. However, it can be up to 100% Tempranillo.
Red Rioja is a wine from northern Spain’s Rioja region. The primary grape variety used in Red Rioja is Tempranillo. However, other grapes like Garnacha (Grenache), Graciano, and Mazuelo may also be blended in.
Red Rioja, made from Tempranillo grapes, typically exhibits flavours of red berries, cherries, plums, and sometimes with hints of tobacco, leather, and spice. It often showcases a balance between fruitiness, earthiness, and oak influence.
Depending on the style and quality of the wine, Rioja made from Tempranillo grapes can age gracefully for several years. Reserva and Gran Reserva wines, in particular, have the potential to develop additional complexity and tertiary flavours over extended aging. Rioja wines are categorized into different aging classifications, which impact their style and complexity. The classifications are Joven (young) with minimal or no oak aging, Crianza with a minimum of one year in oak and one year in bottle, Reserva with at least one year in oak and two years in bottle, and Gran Reserva with at least two years in oak and three years in bottle. The aging process lends additional flavour, texture, and complexity layers to the wine.
Rioja wines are traditionally aged in oak barrels, which can contribute to the wine’s flavour profile. American oak barrels impart vanilla, coconut, and sweet spice notes, while French oak barrels add more subtle and nuanced flavours.
Red Rioja/Tempranillo pairs well with a variety of dishes. Its moderate tannins, acidity, and medium-bodied nature make it a versatile food partner. It complements Spanish cuisine like tapas, cured meats, roasted lamb, game, hearty stews, grilled vegetables, and aged cheeses.
Exploring different producers and vintages can provide a broader understanding of the range and nuances of Red Rioja/Tempranillo.
The ideal serving temperature for Red Rioja and Tempranillo is between 16-18°C/60-64°F, which is slightly cooler than the typical room temperature of 20°C/68°F. Serving the wine at this temperature allows the fruity and spicy notes to be more pronounced while the tannins and acidity remain balanced.
The classic wine categories include sparkling, white (light, medium and full-bodied), rosé, red (light, medium and full-bodied) and dessert wine.
Sparkling wine is known for its effervescence, with carbon dioxide bubbles naturally forming during fermentation. White (light, medium and full-bodied) wine is usually produced from lighter-coloured grapes with a lighter body and a more delicate flavour. Rosé wine is a pink-coloured wine made from red grapes with a refreshing taste and versatile food pairings. Red (light, medium and full-bodied) wine is typically made from dark-coloured grapes, giving it a deeper colour and bold flavour profile. Dessert wine is a type of wine that is sweet and often served after a meal or paired with desserts.
These classic wine categories are the foundation of the wine industry and the starting point for exploring the many variations and complexities within each category.
This article is part of “How to plan an unforgettable wine & cheese party”
These tips are from my own experience;
I’m neither a party organizer, a sommelier, nor a turophile (a cheese connoisseur).
I just love cheese, wine and spending time with family and friends.
I hope my easy tips will give you the confidence to host a wine and cheese party with a handful of close friends.
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