Barbera (Bar-ber-uh) Barbera is often used as a blending grape. As a varietal it can exhibit aromas of berries, plums, or cherries with hints of vanilla, toasty, or smoky flavors. Barbera is best served with tomato based pasta dishes.
Cabernet Sauvignon (Ca-burr-nay So-veen-yawn) Cabernet Sauvignon is a rich full-bodied red wine. Aged in oak, this is a complex wine with cassis and blackberry flavors as well as hints of bell pepper. To make these wines drinkable sooner they are often blended with other grapes. French Bordeaux is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot to soften the tannins. When blended with Merlot and perhaps Cabernet Franc as well, this Bordeaux style blend is called Meritage in the United States. Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic wine to serve with red meats.
Merlot (Mare-lo) Merlot is softer tasting than Cabernet Sauvignon due to having less tannins. It is a smooth, dry red wine. Merlot is often described as having the flavors of boysenberry, black cherry, herbs, and mocha. Merlot is best with poultry and grilled meats, but these types of wines actually goes well with most foods.
Pinot Noir (Pee-no Na-wahr) Pinot Noir is a smooth silky red wine that is extremely fruity. It is characterized with aromas and flavors of black cherry or rose petals along with hints of spiciness or herbal qualities. Pinot Noirs are enjoyed for their soft velvety texture. High in alcohol, they are full bodied but not heavy. Pinot Noir is best served with grilled salmon, roast beef, lamb, duck, and mushrooms.
Sangiovese (San-gee-oh-ve-zee) Sangiovese is a medium bodied dry red wine with earthy aromas and berry, plum, spicy, or floral flavors. It has a smooth texture. Sangiovese is the main grape used to produce Italian Chiantis. Sangiovese goes especially well with pasta and other Italian foods.
Syrah (Sah-ra) Syrah is a hearty red wine noted for its complexity of aromas and flavors including raspberry, plum, smoke, and white pepper. It is a dark red wine, sometimes almost black in color. This wine is also called Shiraz. Syrah is wonderful eaten with duck, wild game, steak, and beef.
Zinfandel (Zin-fan-del) Zinfandel can be light to full bodied. It can be rich and spicy or lighter and fruitier. Aromas and flavors that are typical include raspberry, jam, black pepper, and licorice. Zinfandel tastes great with steaks, grilled meats, and tomato based dishes.