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Dry Red Wines

This is a question that comes up a lot when learning about red wine. These red wines are medium to full-bodied wines with lots of flavor.

They are really quite delicious, but if you are just starting to get into wine, you may find them to be a bit overpowering.

Dry red wine is dry because they have lots of tannins in them. Tannins are found in grape skins and allow a wine to age and are what make red wines dry.

You know that dry flavor you get when you drink black tea? Those are tannins. It's the same thing in dry wine.

Here you will discover six delicious dry wines that you may like to try.  I will give you some pairing ideas as well, because these tend to be big and bold wines and can easily overpower the flavor of your dish.

Dry wines are made from certain grapes that have more tannins. The most common grapes used to make dry wine are:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Tempranillo
  • Nebbiolo
  • Sangiovese
  • Syrah/Shiraz

The dry wine types made from these grapes are easy to buy as they are typically found in any store that sells wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon has a lot of tannins and can age a wine as long as 50 years.

Many winemakers age this wine in oak casks to bring out even more tannins.

What is the most famous region where Cabernet Sauvignon wine is made?

Bordeaux is the most famous region (particularly the Left Bank region of Bordeaux) for Cabernet Sauvignon. Other regions that make excellent Cabernet Sauvignon are: California, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Italy.

Merlot

Merlot wine is the next in popular grapes to make dry red wines. It is a little fruiter than Cabernet Sauvignon and has less tannins.

Merlot is used as the primary grape in the Right Bank wines of Bordeaux, especially in Pomerol and St. Emilion.

Merlot is also used in Left Bank wines, but only as a mixing grape to soften the Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Famous regions where Merlot is used to make dry red wine:

  • Bordeaux (especially in Pomerol and St. Emilion)
  • California
  • Chile
  • Italy

I have dedicated an entire section of this website to Merlot. You can find out more about these wines here.

Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a grape used in many parts of Spain. It goes by several different names there. Tempranillo makes two famous wines: Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

These wines are very similar to Bordeaux wines when aged in oak. If not aged in oak, Tempranillo wine has more flavors of fruit and spices.

Why is Rioja similar to Bordeaux wine? It has to do with European wine growing history, the Phylloxera bug and French wine history.

You can find great Tempranillo for under $60 here.

Nebbiolo

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If you want dry red wine, I mean really dry wine, Nebbiolo wine is for you. It is one of the driest wine available. This grape produces wines that are extremely full-bodied, have high tannins and acidity.

Wines made of Nebbiolo grapes have to be aged, in fact it is even more important to age Nebbiolo wine than Bordeaux wines.

Nebbiolo wines come from Italy, especially the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

The most famous of all Nebbiolo wine from Piedmont are Barolo and Barbaresco.

Find Nebbiolo in a wide range of prices here.

Sangiovese

Ah, Sangiovese. You have likely had this wine before, but you just know it by another name.

Ever had Chianti? Chianti wine is made from Sangiovese grapes. Chianti and other Sangiovese-based wines are generally medium to full-bodied wines and are spicy and dry.

Chianti wine is not a very dry wine like Barolo or Barbaresco. It could be compared better with Bordeaux or Tempranillo.

Other types of Sangiovese wine are Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. Some California winemakers have had some success making Sangiovese wine as well.

Find great Sangiovese wine here.

Syrah/Shiraz wine

Syrah wine (known as Shiraz wine in Australia) is used to make full-bodied wines in the Rhone Valley in France, Australia, California, South Africa, Argentina, to name a few.

Syrah wine makes Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Hermitage in the Rhone Valley. It is called by both names (Syrah or Shiraz) outside of Europe.

Syrah makes dark, full-bodied, spicy dry wines. Hermitage wine has excellent aging potential, some California and Australian versions do as well.

You can find Syrah wine in a wide range of prices here.

Tips on Pairing Dry Red Wines

Pairing dry red wine can be a difficult task as the tannins in the wine can affect how your dish tastes.

The best thing to do is to pair dry red wine with heavy food. Think about game meat, roasts, dark chocolate, legumes... These all counteract the tannins in the wine and can actually make the wine taste softer and even a little sweet.

The easiest way to pair one of these dry wines is to pair it with a dish from the same region where the wine comes from. For example, if you decide on a Sangiovese, pair it with an Italian dish.

Do not pair dry red wine with salty food. This can cause the wine and the dish to taste bitter and metallic. Not a nice taste.

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