Red wine is made from black grapes, and it gets its hue (which can range from a light ruby to a deep oxblood) from fermenting with the grape skins. This also imparts tannins, which you can thank for that dry, astringent mouthfeel when you sip a particularly bold red wine.
- Lighter bodied reds, which have lower alcohol, fewer tannins, higher acidity and red fruit flavors (like pinot noir and gamay)
- Medium bodied reds, which have moderate alcohol and tannins, and a blend of red and dark fruit flavors (like grenache, Côtes du Rhône and merlot)
- Full bodied reds, which have higher alcohol, bold tannins and black fruit and spicy flavors (like cabernet sauvignon, malbec and syrah)
Pairing red wine (and all wine, for that matter) is largely a matter of preference, but there are a few guidelines to follow if you’re just starting out. Bold, full-bodied reds pair well with hearty foods (like red meat or slow-cooked, rich dishes). Lighter reds are versatile and can pair with pasta, pizza and even poultry.
Again, how you serve the wine depends on its specifics, but in general, you should serve red wine just below room temperature, around 62 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, especially if it’s a high-tannin bottle (otherwise it could come off bitter). But lighter, higher acidity reds can be delicious with a chill. The pros (and home stores) will tell you that you need a “red wine” glasses for serving, but in our humble opinion, any wine glass will do.