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4 Red Wine Varietals - Whats the difference?

With over 10,000 wine grape varietals across the globe, its sometimes hard to choose! They all start to run together, don't they? Well, here are a few red grape varietals that you may not see everyday but ones that you should definitely try!

1. Barbera

This hardy little grape comes from the far reaches of Italy and is quite a special Old World varietal. It's common to see it as the sole grape varietal within a wine, however, Barbera is a popular blending grape in Italian and Californian wines, adding a softer, lighter element to the finished wine. Barbera wines have notes of black and red cherry, chocolate, spices and smooth tannins. Pair it with pastas, hearty stews, and pretty much any other dish!

2. Meritage

This is a trick question! A red Meritage is actually a blend of two or more of the following varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot and/or Carmenère. It is under strict guidelines and a wine cannot be called a Meritage with out meeting this specific criteria. The name for this New World wine combines the word 'merit' with 'heritage' - expressing the quality of the grapes while paying tribute to the Old-World style Bordeaux blending traditions. The resulting wine has qualities of a Bordeaux Rouge (red blend) mixed with dark berry fruit, vanilla, chocolate and a hefty mouthfeel. Pair it with red meats, chocolate, cheeses and more!

3. Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a widely grown varietal originating in Spain, however today it can be found in Portugal, South America, Australia, United States and South Africa. This grape is almost black in color and when crushed, creates a wonderful ruby-red wine. The wines tend to be full-bodied with notes of plum, herbs, tobacco, berries and vanilla. Pair this wine with a variety of meats, spicy dishes (but not too spicy) and ice cream.

4. Petite Sirah

Perhaps a more well-known grape than the others, Petite Sirah can be found in California, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil among others. But don't confuse this grape with Syrah! The small (hence the name petite) grape produces excellent dark red wines with high tannins, high acidity and the ability to age quite nicely. The finished wines are commonly described as 'peppery' and show characteristics of dense blackberries, black pepper, spicy plum and chocolate. Pair this wine with wild game, filet mignon, stronger cheeses, and chocolate cake!

P.S. - All of these varietals can be found in our Wine Store!