Smooth Mellow Red Wines

Wine Basics / Grapes and Wine Styles

I Like... Smooth Mellow Red Wines

Contents

Wine Basics Wine Basics

Popular grapes & styles

Merlot
Grenache
Carmenère
Valpolicella
Rioja
Chianti

These wines are classic reds; the vinous equivalent of settling back into a wingback chair in a library next to a roaring fire, listening to Ray Charles on a gently crackling record player – super smooth and deliciously mellow.




Merlot

Where you'll find it: Basically everywhere – most famously in 'Bordeaux blends' of cabernet sauvignon & merlot, plus all over the new world

Flavours:

Plum
Plum
Blackberry
Blackberry
Cherry
Cherry

Style: Soft, round, red and black-fruited and easy-drinking.

Food: Vegetable tagine, cottage pie and easy everyday comfort food.

Drink it here: For a midweek box-set marathon when you don't want to think too hard about what you're drinking, (although you can get stunning premium styles too).

View our range of merlots




Grenache/Garnacha

Where you'll find it: Spain (garnacha), France (especially the Rhône), Australia

Flavours:

Strawberry
Strawberry
Herbs
Herbs
Spice
Spice
Blackcurrant
Blackcurrant

Style: Vibrant, full-bodied but fresh and often with an intriguing herbaceous hit (fennel, thyme).

Food: Roasted vegetables with Feta cheese crumbled on top, slow-cooked lamb.

Drink it here: In the form of a rich, structured Châteauneuf-du-Pape with deeply savoury stews, or a boldly fruity new world style with barbecue food.

View our range of grenache




Valpolicella

Where you'll find it: Northern Italy

Flavours:

Cherries
Cherries
Strawberries
Strawberries
Earthy
Earthy

Style: Mouthwateringly fresh and fruity and light blend which includes the corvina grape – like a bowl of fresh, tart cherries.

Food: Stay Italian with tomatoey pasta and pizza.

Drink it here: For introducing to red-wine hating friends – this may just be mellow and fruity enough to convert them.

View our range of Valpolicellas




Carmenère

Where you'll find it: Chile

Flavours:

Blackberry
Blackberry
Green Bell Pepper
Green Bell Pepper
Black Pepper
Black Pepper
Plum
Plum

Style: Chile's flagship grape variety, this is a slightly wild but deliciously smooth red with lots of ripe black-fruit flavours and a hint of herbs.

Food: This can take mild spice in its stride so opt for tandoori chicken or Chile con Carne.

Drink it here: In Chile a whole barbecued cow (asado) would be the done thing, but maybe try barbequed veg or burgers in the back garden instead.

View our range of carmenère




Rioja

Where you'll find it: Rioja (Spain)

Flavours:

Sour Cherry
Sour Cherry
Vanilla
Vanilla
Leather
Leather

Style: A rich red-fruited blend, usually with vanilla and toast flavours from oak ageing. There are four styles of Rioja which range from young, unoaked fruity numbers (joven) to mature, oak-aged treasures (Gran Reserva).

Food: Lamb makes a gorgeous pairing with this seductive wine, or try a coconut and pumpkin curry or veg-based tapas.

Drink it here: Rioja always impresses, so put a bottle on the table for Sunday lunch or a birthday dinner.

View our range of Riojas




Chianti

Where you'll find it: Tuscany, Italy

Flavours:

Red cherries
Red cherries
Herbs
Herbs
Floral
Floral
Leather
Leather

Style: Most famous for its use in Chianti, sangiovese can make fragranced, supple cherry-scented wines. Top Chianti can also gain more power and leathery complexity with age.

Food: Tomato is difficult to pair with wine, but Chianti is brilliant here. Try pizza or meatballs.

Drink it here: Try it in the evening with a plate of cold cuts. Want to explore different expressions of sangiovese? Get adventurous by discovering versions from all over Northern Italy to discover how well this versatile grape reflects its terroir. Also try an Aussie version for a totally different take.

View our range of Chiantis


What makes a red wine smooth and mellow?

Oak ageing

While not all the styles above will have seen oak, fermenting and/or maturing in oak barrels do give a really smooth, vanilla-like, toasty smoothness to red wines if done with subtlety. French oak tends to give more understated toasty cedar and brioche notes, while American oak barrels give more flamboyant vanilla and coconut flavours.

If you see the term 'new' oak in a wine note this often means the oaky flavours will be more pronounced.

Give a few different styles a try and see what style of oaking (if any) you prefer.

Tannin

Tannins come from the skin and seeds of stalks, giving grip and structure on the palate (imagine the sensation of a sip of over-stewed tea on your gums).

For smooth, mellow wines, these tannins need to be well integrated and supple, so winemakers may choose grapes which have naturally softer tannins, and using barrel fermentation allows small amounts of oxygen into the wine which helps to mellow the tannins for a velvety feel.



Food Matching

Pasta and Tomato Sauce

Tomato-based sauces: The sweet-and-sour richness of slow-cooked tomato sauces needs juicy tangy fruit to balance it out. The ripe black and red fruit flavours of these wines do just that, with enough refreshing acidity to sing with the zinginess of the tomatoes.

Mild Curry

Aromatic spice: The fragrant spice of a mild curry will love the bold fruit of these wines. Don't go too hot though!