On Becoming a Wine Expert, Part 2 - The Essential Reds

Thursday, May 24, 2018

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The only way to truly learn about wine is to taste wines from as many regions of the world as possible. Last week we suggested six white wines to taste for anyone who wants to broaden their wine knowledge.

This week we suggest 12 wines that you should taste to gain a foundational understanding of the spectrum of red wine styles. In the list, I name the category of wine, why you should try it and then I suggest a wine that is available locally in Jamaica.

French Pinot Noir: The historic home of Pinot Noir is Burgundy, France. This early-ripening varietal prefers cool-climate growing conditions to make light-bodied, elegant, a bit tangy — think: cranberry and cherries — red wine. Try a bottle of Louis Latour Gevrey Chambertin. Gevrey-Chambertin is one of the finest viticultural villages of the Côte de Nuits.

California Pinot Noir: One of the other places where Pinot Noir shines is in the cool parts of coastal California, especially in Carneros and the Russian River Valley. Try a bottle of Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir for a lusher and fruitier Pinot Noir style.

Washington State Merlot: For a soft, mild, very approachable crowd-pleaser, you can't go wrong with Merlot and Washington State products; excellent wines at great prices made from this wrongly maligned popular varietal. Try Chateau Ste Michele Columbia Valley Merlot.

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: The undisputed king of red wine varietals is Cabernet Sauvignon. It produces some of the most expensive and most collectable red wines in the USA and other countries. Napa Valley is home to some of the very best; to see why, try Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

Bordeaux: You must taste wines from the most famous wine region in the world. It is also the historic home of many popular red grape varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Carmenere. Most wines from here are blends with a majority of Cabernet or Merlot. Try Chateau Teyssier or Chateau Magnol.

Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon: As Cab is the king of red wine grapes, it is important to experience the varietal from other wine regions: Try Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon

French Syrah (Shiraz): The Rhône Valley in southwest France is historic home to the globally popular Syrah (Shiraz) varietal. The region is known for its very hearty red blends of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. To expand your wine appreciation, try a bottle of E Guigal Cote du Rhône.

Australian Shiraz (Syrah): If possible, side by side with the French Syrah, taste the spicy Australian version of the Syrah, which they call Shiraz. Look for Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz.

Malbec: Argentina has made Malbec hugely popular, but most are the bargain-basement stuff; you need to try some of the more impressive options, like the Trivento Golden Reserve Malbec, one of the very best values for red wines in Jamaica.

Chianti: Italy's mark on the wine world is vast — it is the world's largest wine producer, but one has to know its flagship wine, the rustic, herbaceous flavours of the Sangiovese varietal high-acidity Chianti, first.

Try a bottle of Banfi Chianti Classico.

Barolo: OK, having tried Chianti, it is now time to try another Italian. This time it's one of Italy's top red wines: the rich, full-bodied powerhouse Barolo made with 100% Nebbiolo. Try the Barolo made by producer Marchesi di Barolo.

Rioja: No list of essential red wines would be complete without a wine from the third largest producer of wines in the world — Spain. Tempranillo is Spain's most popular red grape varietal and Rioja is their best known region. Try a bottle of Campo Viejo Rioja.


For a fun, affordable, stress-free experience do spread your tasting over several weeks.


Christopher Reckord - Information Technology Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord

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