Warming Up to Reds

January 03 00:00 2003 Print This Article

The temptation to reach for a cool glass of white wine to quench a summer thirst is understandable, and in fact it is a reflex action for some people. But the fact of the matter is that red wines are experiencing an incredible resurgence in the United States. Just last year, wine drinkers consumed more red wines (41%) than whites (39%) and blush (20%), according to Impact Databank. In fact, the year 2000 marked the first time since 1970 that red wines outsold white wines, a trend that continues. Why are wine lovers warming up to reds?

A lot of it has to do with changing eating habits. Most people today are actively seeking bolder flavors and exotic spices commonly found in ethnic cuisines such as Thai, Mexican, and Pan Asian. Even for the less daring, grilled steak is a staple on most menus, both at home and at restaurants. All of these flavorful foods happen to pair deliciously with a good red wine. Perceived health benefits associated with drinking red wine have also fueled the red bonanza.

Red wine drinkers fall into three basic categories:

  • The Red Wine Lover - drinks reds anytime, anyplace, and with anything.
  • Social Wine Drinker - enjoys reds, but goes with whatever the crowd is drinking.
  • White Wine/Blush Drinker - Within this group there are those who stick to white or blush, and others who would like to find an easy-to-drink red wine that they will enjoy.

Here are some tips to help all wine drinkers warm up to reds:

  • During warm weather seasons, enjoy lighter-bodied red wines, which are literally lighter in color, with more acid and very little tannin. Try Gamay from France, which produces Beaujolais, Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France, California, or Oregon, Tempranillo from Spain, Dolcetto, or Sangiovese from Italy.
  • Lighter reds are generally best when served at 55-60 F, and if you enjoy your beverages cooler, it's OK to add an ice cube.
  • Bigger reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo from Italy, Shiraz from Australia, Rioja Reservas from Spain, Rhne wines, more expensive Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, are best when served at 60-65 F, and please hold the cubes.
  • Pair lighter-style red wines with lighter foods. Medium- and heavier-style reds pair best with more hearty foods.
  • Lighter-bodied reds like Beaujolais, which also happen to be light on your pocketbook, are great "hamburger" wines. They are extremely versatile and can also add flavor to roast chicken, salmon, pasta salads, pizza, grilled vegetables, crab cakes, chicken satay, sushi, quesadillas, and a host of other bold-flavored dishes.

While you may be warming up to reds now, just thinkit won't be long before you look for bigger reds to warm you up.

Felicia M. Sherbert is the author of The Unofficial Guide to Selecting Wine, winner of the 2000 Georges Duboeuf "Book of the Year" Award (Hungry Minds, Inc.). She is a former senior editor at M. Shanken Communications, publisher of Wine Spectator, Food Arts, and Market Watch and is a WineAnswers contributor. When she is not writing, Felicia conducts private and corporate wine seminars.


Source: WineAnswers

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