Popular grapes and styles
Where you'll find it: Burgundy, New Zealand, USA, Germany, Alsace
Old world flavours: Forest Fruits, earthy and herbs
New world flavours: Strawberry, cranberry and herbs
Style: Hauntingly perfumed, silky and complex.
Food: Game, mushrooms, duck.
Drink it here: Chilled with charcuterie in summer or with creamy mushrooms on toast by the fireside in autumn.
Where you'll find it: Beaujolais, Loire
Flavours: Floral, strawberry and raspberry
Style: Bright, breezy and refreshing red, best served lightly chilled.
Food: Roast chicken and roasted vegetables or a picnic-perfect bacon, brie and cranberry baguette.
Drink it here: Straight from the cool box for a French-style picnic or with simple everyday dinners.
What makes a red wine soft and fruity?
A wine's alcohol level contributes to its mouthfeel and weight. Grapes grown in cooler climates (such as pinot noir and gamay) are exposed to less sunshine, leading to less sugar in the grape and therefore less alcohol resultant in the wine. As a result you generally won't get that 'hot' high-alcohol feeling in the back of your throat when you drink these wines.
Tannins come from the skin, seed and stalks (imagine the sensation of overstewed tea on your gums and you'll get the picture!), and tend to be higher and more 'grippy' in grapes from hot climates. Because pinot noir and gamay prefer cooler climates, the tannins won't get as high as fuller-bodied styles. This makes lighter-bodied wines a bit too easy to drink sometimes!
Red fruit flavours
Cherry, strawberry, cranberry and red plum flavours are characteristic of lighter-bodied red grapes and because the best examples aren't over-oaked you'll notice that these juicy forest-fruit flavours can really sing here.
Pinot noir in particular is a very sensitive grape and needs a lot of TLC to get it to ripeness. Because it has a very thin skin it prefers cool to moderate climates, adding further to the delicate fragrance and super-pure fruit of these wines.
Mushrooms and truffles: Pinot noir has lovely lift and freshness and often develops into bosky, forest-floor flavours with age. Fellow forest-floor dwellers such as mushrooms and truffles have a real affinity with this savoury, leafy complexity.
Roast chicken and pork: Chardonnay is usually seen as the soulmate of these Sunday roast staples, but the mouthwatering lightness of these reds means they don't overpower the simple beauty of a chicken dinner. Added herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, will chime with the same herbaceous elements of the wine. Roasted root veg are another winning combination.