My Dad was a fan of big, bold red wines. He would say that he liked to know he was drinking a wine. Meaning it was full body, rich in flavor, and strong tannins. There are a lot of red wines out there, with a wide range of flavor (light and fruity, to tannin bombs). So, what’s an easy trick to know if it is a bold wine? Look at the color. Typically, the darker the wine, the bolder the flavor – and this can be linked to the skins. Much of wine’s flavor comes from the skin of the grape.
While color is a quick indicator, there are other factors that contribute, like mouth feel, structure, and winemaker influence. Wine Folly has a great post defining full bodied red wines, along with a list of the “Top 10 Darkest Full-Bodied Red Wines in the World”.
The fruit didn't fall far from the tree. Like my Dad, I am also a fan of big, red wines. Here are some of my personal favorites:
Don’t be fooled by the name. Petite refers to the size of the grape, not the flavor. The small grape has a high skin to juice ratio. Typically these wines are inky in color, relatively acidic, with overtones of herb and black pepper, and flavors of blue and black fruit, and plum.
Pair with: grilled steak, game, and sausage
Personal Picks: Vincent Arroyo Greenwood Ranch, Hess Small Block Series, Elyse
This is a dark-skinned grape variety. The style and flavor profile are influenced by the climate of the growing region. Moderate climates, like Washington, produce more medium body wines, blackberry flavors and medium-plus tannins. Syrah from hotter climates, like Australia, have jammier fruit, little earthiness and softer tannins.
Pair with: BBQ, any grilled meat (duck, lamb venison, steak, sausage)
Personal Picks: Cuvaison, Herman Story “White Hawk”, Bridlewood “Six Gun”
This is a thinner skinned grape, but is very deep in color and has ample tannins, and rich flavors of plum and black cherry, with a smoky finish. While it is commonly used as a blending grape, it does quite well on its own. This is a value priced wine, that packs a punch – if serving a group, it's an affordable substitute for cab or merlot.
Pair with: Blue cheese burgers, buffalo, beef brisket
Personal Picks: Felino, Filus Reserve, Gascon
Because this grape is grown in a wide variety of regions, it can have varied flavors. Generally speaking, they are full bodied wines with dark fruit flavors, with notes of black pepper, and maybe a dash of vanilla. It pairs great with food, especially dishes higher in fat.
Pair with: ribs, burgers, the ‘messy’ meats!
Personal Picks: so many… Brandlin,Cade, Ehlers “1886”
This Father’s Day, fire up the grill, open a bottle of big red wine, and say cheers to all our wonderful Dads!