8 Popular Types of Red Wine

While your personal preference between red and white wine is entirely up to you, economic data reveals that red wine is undoubtedly the world’s go-to vino.

Red varietals and blends account for ~54% of global wine consumption, dominating whites, ~36%, and rosé, ~9%, to sit atop the vinicultural throne.

So, what are some of the world’s favorite reds? Which growing regions produce them? And how can you pair them with your favorite foods?

We’ve got all the answers in our Guide to Popular Types of Red Wine!

  1. Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the world’s most popular red wine. It only takes opening one delicious bottle to understand why.

Its full body, prominent tannins, moderate acidity and dryness perfectly complement fruity overtones of blackberry, black cherry and plum. With invigorating notes of peppered spice and sweet hints of vanilla and licorice it creates an exquisite marriage of structure and flavor.

The “Cab,” as it is lovingly referred to, is a vinicultural staple that makes for an excellent addition to any budding wine collection.

Here are some notable Cabernet Sauvignon regions:

  • Bordeaux, France
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • California, United States
  • Colchagua Valley, Chile

Recommended Pairings:

  • Grilled Ribeye Steak
  • Meat Lover’s Pizza
  • Beef Stew
  • Aged Cheddar
  1. Merlot

Merlot is the perfect middle ground between tame and bold reds, harmonizing smooth tannins, moderate acidity and a medium to full body for a smooth drinking experience.

To understand the flavor profile of a Merlot, you have to consider the climate of its home region.

Warm-climate Merlot is a moderately tannic, fruit-forward wine combining flavors of black cherry, plum and blackberry with baking accents of vanilla, cinnamon and allspice, herbaceous hints of pyrazines (leafy green flavors) and very subtle floral notes.

On the other hand, cool-climate Merlot has a firmer structure with more prominent tannins accompanying ripe fruit flavors like raspberry, blueberry or fig, bitter hints of dark chocolate and coffee, prominent floral notes and a pleasant earthiness.

Here are some notable Merlot regions:

  • Bordeaux, France
  • Tuscany, Italy
  • California, United States
  • Apalta, Chile

Recommended Pairings:

  • Roast Beef
  • Shepherd's Pie
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Milk or Dark Chocolate
  1. Pinot Noir

Wine lovers worldwide cherish Pinot Noir as an easy-to-drink red with an approachable structure and an excellent flavor profile that pairs well with a variety of meals.

This dry vino is famous for its relatively low tannin levels, prominent acidity and light-to-medium body, subverting some potentially abrasive qualities of red wine for a smooth drinking experience.

This charming structure may seem simple, but it belies a wonderful medley of diverse, delicious flavors.

A bottle of exquisite Pinot Noir offers juicy, red fruit flavors of cranberry, raspberry and cherry, sweet hints of licorice, vanilla and caramel, prominent earthy notes of mushroom, clove and leaves and floral accents of hibiscus.

If you find bolder red options intimidate your palate, this internationally acclaimed vino may be just the one your collection needs.

Some popular Pinot Noir regions:

  • California, United States
  • Burgundy, France
  • Ahr Valley, Germany
  • Central Otago, New Zealand

Recommended Pairings:

  • Rack of Lamb
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Gruyere
  1. Malbec

In the competitive world of red wine, Malbec is an up-and-coming star whose quality and versatility inspire passionate support from its growing fan base.

Most famously grown in Argentina, this dry vino distinguishes itself through its inky purple color and pleasant combination of moderate tannins, low-to-medium acidity levels and full body.

Where Malbec truly shines, however, is in its uniquely enjoyable flavor profile:

In each bottle of this charming red, you’ll discover jammy, fruit-forward notes of red plum, blackberry and black cherry that marry sweet hints of cocoa and vanilla, rich accents of tobacco and leather and a pleasant oakiness for a smooth drinking experience.

With such desirable characteristics, it is little surprise that Malbec is now among the most popular red wines in the United States, trailing only superstars like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

Most notable Malbec regions:

  • Mendoza, Argentina
  • Catamarca, Argentina
  • Cahors, France
  • Maule and Colchagua Valleys, Chile

Recommended Pairings:

  • Roasted Pork
  • Dark Meat Turkey
  • Venison
  • Blue Cheese
  1. Syrah (Shiraz)

Syrah (Shiraz) is a bold vino that mixes a robust structure with elegant flavors for an invigorating drinking experience.

In each glass of this dark red delight lies a distinct combination of dryness, prominent acidity, firm tannins and a full body that doesn't pull any punches.

While these bold qualities may seem overpowering, fear not, as they perfectly emphasize Syrah’s juicy, dark fruitiness and highlight its underlying symphony of chocolate, tobacco, coffee and herbaceous notes.

If it is bold vino you seek, few others can match this standout red’s daring personality and dark complexity.

Check out these popular Syrah Regions:

  • Côtes du Rhône, France
  • California, United States
  • Barossa Valley, Australia
  • Stellenbosch, South Africa

Recommend Pairings:

  • Prime Rib
  • Lamb Shawarma
  • Roasted Leg of Lamb
  • Smoked Gouda
  1. Grenache (Garnacha)

Grenache (Garnacha) is a staple of France’s Rhône Valley growing region, but this lovely red actually originated next door in Spain.

Unlike others on this list, Grenache is typically undesirable as a standalone wine, as its low tannin levels, moderate acidity and medium body struggle to make an impact on their own.

However, when combined with other varietals (such as Syrah, Mourvèdre or Carignan), Grenache blossoms into a lovely, fuller red blend with intense fruity flavors of strawberry, black cherry and raspberry that harmonize delightfully with spicier notes of cinnamon, anise and white pepper.

Notable Grenache Regions:

  • Rhône Valley, France
  • Priorat, Spain
  • Sicily, Italy
  • California, United States

Recommended Pairings:

  • Braised Veal
  • Classic Hamburger
  • Margherita Pizza
  • Manchego
  1. Red Zinfandel

Red Zinfandel is a distinct red wine that excellently straddles the line between easy-drinking reds, like Pinot Noir, and bolder ones, like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Though a red “Zin” has moderate tannins, relatively high acidity, a full body and high ABV (alcohol by volume), its medium-sweetness, richness and pair-ability make it accessible to anyone.

In each bottle of this California staple, you’ll also find an enticing mix of ripe, fruit-forward flavors, like jam, blueberry, raspberry and black cherry, alongside exotic spices, subtle vanilla sweetness and an intriguing, smoky finish.

For vino that mixes the best of red wine, there might be no better place to look than a Zin.

Notable Red Zinfandel Regions:

  • California, United States
  • Puglia, Italy
  • Dalmatia, Croatia

Recommended Pairings:

  • Al Pastor Tacos
  • Lasagna
  • Cioppino
  • Barbecue Pork Ribs
  1. Barolo

Barolo is a beloved Italian red made from the Nebbiolo grape, a staple variety of the Piemonte region in Northern Italy.

Famously deemed “the wine of kings” as a favorite of Italy’s 19th-century rulers, this bold vino is rich and features prominent tannins, notably high acidity and a full body - - all despite its famously pale, unassuming color.

In the grand tradition of Italian wine, this red is also uber flavorful:

Each sip packs delicate fruit flavors of raspberry and cherry, floral notes of rose, spicy accents of cinnamon and white pepper, sweet hints of chocolate and licorice and an earthy medley of tar, truffles and clay.

Notable Barolo Regions:

  • Piemonte, Italy

Recommended Pairings:

  • Truffle and Mushroom Risotto
  • Robust Charcuterie Boards
  • Braised Veal
  • Pasta Bolognese

Wine Insiders: Your New Home for Wine

Now that you know about the top red wines in the world, it’s time to expand your horizons and check out Wine Insiders’ diverse collection of fantastic varietals and blends from across the globe.

Whether you’re looking for a light-bodied, acidic white from South Africa, a bold, tannic red from Italy or a wine set mixing bottles from your favorite Old or New World countries, we have the wines you need to taste the world in your glass. Plus, if you use our promo code “WINE101”, you can snag 30% off sitewide!