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Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Syrah - Red Wine Guide

in the world of red wine grapes there's

a little more competition for the top

slot so a little less agreement about

which one is at the top of the food

chain but there are definitely three red

grapes Pinot Noir Merlot and Cabernet

Sauvignon that come from the burgundy

and Bordeaux regions of France that are

the absolute icons of classic style

there is one grape that I would add to

this major-league group though because

of the importance that it's picked up

just in the last 10 or 20 years and

that's a grape called Syrah also from

France but that we often know under its

new identity in other parts of the world

where they call it Shiraz so let's go to

the beginning and look at the lightest

one of these wines Pinot Noir is the

grape variety that has been grown in

Burgundy since the 12th century and this

style is on the lighter end of the red

wine spectrum even looking at it in the

glass we can see it has a translucency

to it that is because the grape has

relatively thin skins and so it's

delivery of color and flavor intensity

to the wine is on the lighter end of the

spectrum however the flavors that it

does give are so seductive and desirable

that Pinot Noir is that one of the most

desired styles of wine on earth it is

coveted and collectible it is a cool

climate style that is a little brighter

a little bit more in the red fruit

aromatic spectrum things like

cranberries and strawberries come to

mind this is a lighter style of red that

works well with some foods that you

might normally think of pairing with a

white wine seafoods and white meats for

example when we come to the kissing

cousins next that come from Bordeaux we

have Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon two

grapes that are planted in the same

region and that are distantly related

when they're grown in cold places like

France and Italy they often have a

little bit of aromatic resemblance to

them as well but once we plant them in

sunnier warmer places like Chile for

example here or California we get a

little more divergence in their

aromatics and it gets easier to tell

them apart on the nose Merlot tends to

give us a little bit more of an herbal

quality to it a little bit less of the

earthiness that we find in Pinot Noir

and seems to be a little bit darker in

its fruit range a little bit more like

blackberries and plums and a little bit

less like strawberries and cranberries

when we encounter it from a cool play

we often get a woodsy character to it

almost like cedar or even roasted bell

peppers and it is very well-suited to

food and its distant relation Cabernet

Sauvignon is definitely among the most

famous and well-known grape varieties in

the world it makes some of the finest

wines of Bordeaux and is known for the

long term aging potential that it can

have this is due to the fact that

Cabernet Sauvignon was a grape has

smaller berries and thicker skins than

Merlot and when we ferment it in the

tank that gives us a double dose of all

of the sources of color and flavor that

we get in the wine aromatically Cabernet

Sauvignon has some resemblance to Merlot

in its fruit definitely in the dark

fruit blackberry and cherry range but it

adds to that herbal quality flavors that

remind me of darker foods like liquorice

and chocolate and coffee very much an

intense powerhouse of a wine that will

deliver a big oof of flavor if I was

going to add another grape certainly my

choice would be a grape called Syrah

that also comes from another region of

France called the Rhone however we most

often encounter it these days under

another name where it's called Shiraz

Shiraz is the name given to the Syrah

grape when it's grown in places like

Australia and South Africa in the

southern hemisphere however it is

genetically identical to the grape we

call Syrah in places like California and

France Syrah has similar thick skins and

density of color to what we find from

Cabernet Sauvignon but usually does not

quite have as much tannic structure and

as a result is more often made in the

drink menow style with a little bit more

emphasis on forward fruit this style has

a kind of blackberry pie and black

pepper quality to it that makes it very

appealing and friendly and delivers a

heck of a lot of flavor per square inch

when you serve this as a sauce on the

side