Wine styles

Guide to full-bodied red wines

I like… big, bold and spicy red wines

Popular grapes & styles

Where you'll find it: Worldwide, but most famously Bordeaux, Australia, California and Chile.


  • Northern hemisphere/cooler climates: Cassis, cedar and cigar box.
  • Southern hemisphere/warmer climates: Blackcurrant, mint and tobacco.

Style: Serious, brooding and complex.

Food: Meaty, umami flavours like beef or mushrooms.

Drink it here: In classy surroundings with your favourite company.

View our cabernet sauvignon range


Where you'll find it: California, USA, or Italy (where it is known as primitivo).

Flavours: Sweet/sour cherry, cranberry, blackberry and chocolate

Style: Bold, rich and generous, and generally higher in alcohol.

Food: Red-meat curries or turkey and the trimmings.

Drink it here: To warm up on cold winter evenings by the fire.

View our zinfandel range

Where you'll find it: Most famously Argentina, but also Cahors in South-West France and the Loire where it is called côt.

Flavours: Brambly fruit, spice and leather.

Style: Rustic, deeply coloured and rich.

Food: Game, or spicy grilled beef, sausages or vegetables.

Drink it here: At a summer barbecue, even if it rains!.

View our malbec range


Where you'll find it: Widely grown, but especially Rhône (particularly north), Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Flavours: Black pepper, plums, blackcurrant and spice.

Style: Dark, elegant and concentrated.

Food: Peppered steak, wild mushroom linguine, or venison.

Drink it here: Friday night dinner with friends.

View our syrah / shiraz range


Where you'll find it: Southern Rhône, Languedoc-Roussillon, Spain, Australia.

Flavours: Raspberry, sweet spice and herbs.

Style: Heartwarming, full-bodied and hot.

Food: Herby Mediterranean stews and comforting meat or vegetable pies.

Drink it here: When you're dreaming of your next sunny holiday.

View our grenache / garnacha range

Where you'll find it: The Rioja region in northern Spain.

Flavours: Strawberry, spice and leather.


  • Traditional: Fragrant, silky and delicate.
  • Modern: Rich, rounder and structured.

Food: Roast lamb, Manchego cheese.

Drink it here: On summer Sundays with good company.

View our Rioja range

Carignan/Cariñena: A dark, full-flavoured Spanish grape from the region of the same name, but also widely grown in southern France.

Tannat: Deeply dark and brooding southern French grape used to make Madiran, and also earning a reputation in Urguayan reds.

Valpolicella, ripasso-style: Made with the corvina grape in Italy's Veneto region, in 'ripasso' styles of Valpolicella the wine is passed through barrels containing the skins and lees of recently made Amarone wine.

What makes a red wine full-bodied?


A wine's alcohol level contributes to its mouthfeel and weight. Grapes grown in hotter climates tend to have higher sugar levels and therefore make wines with higher alcohol.


Tannins come from the skin, seed and grapes, as well as oak barrels, giving red wines grip and structure, and ageability.

Dark fruits

Fuller-bodied wines tend to have darker fruit flavours, like brambly blackberry, dark cherry and blackcurrant.

Positive health benefits?

Some studies have shown fuller-bodied reds contain antioxidants that might provide cardiovascular health benefits!

Food Matching

Rich Stews & Curries: These full-blooded reds amp up the spice factor in chilli-heavy foods, so beware? Mildly spiced chillies and stews will love the bold tannins and fruitiness here though.

Hard Cheeses: Manchego, Cheddar, Parmesan... these all have the power to take on the big tannins and flavours of these brooding reds.

Sunday Roasts: From lamb shanks to beef Wellington, these rich wines have the wow-factor needed for a special Sunday lunch.

Rosie Allen

The Society's Brand Marketing Manager

Rosie Allen

Rosie joined the team in 2016 and oversees all our content including 1874 magazine and Discovery pages.

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