A Guide to Red Wines

At Ram’s Gate Winery, there are few things we love more than making red wine. 

Each of our Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Syrah wines are characteristically different in color, texture, structure, and taste, as our experienced team of wine professionals works tirelessly to produce California reds that are teeming with fruity, flowery, and earthy characteristics with hints of spice and herb based on the type. 

However, we also understand that becoming a red wine lover can be intimidating at first. With so many varietals, regions, and opinions about which is best and why, it may be difficult to get behind the label and understand which style—or styles—suits your palette. 

Here is a quick guide to red wine characteristics and styles, so you can make an informed decision next time you are ready to try something new—or revert to an old favorite.

What are Red Wine Characteristics?

It stands to reason that red wine and white wine have many different characteristics, with the most notable being the color. 

Red wines can range from bright, youthful ruby hues to deep, opaque purple, and continue to darken as they age.  

Red wines contain much higher tannin levels, as the winemaking process includes macerating the juice of each wine’s grape with the seeds, skins, and sometimes stems as part of the fermentation process. Some, but not all, white wines also contain tannins, the levels are just much lower. 

Red wines are also more acidic than most white wines, as the acid serves as a preservative to help provide freshness, structure, and balance. 

If you are new to red wine, you may want to begin your journey by sampling different types, beginning with three of our favorites: Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. 

The Gateway Red: Pinot Noir

Many white wine lovers easily bridge the gap into red wine with Pinot Noir. 

This light-bodied red wine is dry, acidic, and packs an aromatic red-fruit-forward taste with earthy notes that provide a well-rounded finish alone or with a meal. 

Full-Bodied Wines for the Tannin Lovers

Full-bodied reds, like Cabernet Sauvignon, typically have the highest alcohol content and tannins, which create a weight on the palette, making it a perfect pairing for rich foods, thanks to its bold flavors and long finish. 

Syrah is also a full-bodied, high-tannin red that ages beautifully and pairs well with intense flavors that open with powerful fruit and spice. Syrah also boasts one of the highest antioxidant levels, which just might mean it is good for you. Although, we are winemakers, not physicians.

Do I Have to Decant Red Wine Before Drinking It?

Here is where red wine becomes even more intimidating: The decanting process. 

Most people prefer a wine you can open, pour, and drink. The good news is, that is typically true for most varietals. 

Decanting, while a beautiful process, is typically only necessary for old reds—to separate any sediment that formed while aging—and big reds that need a little time to round out the tannins and soften. 

If you do not have a decanter, simply pour the newly opened bottle into a glass vessel of your choice and allow it to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, so flavors and aromas can evolve. 

Your guests will appreciate the ability to grab a well-oxygenated glass upon arrival. 

Virtual and In-Person California Red Wine Tasting at Ram’s Gate Winery

At Ram’s Gate Winery, we believe there is a red wine lover in all of us, even if not everyone knows it. Learn more about our exciting red wine collections by reserving a wine tasting experience, or through one of our informative virtual encounters, join our wine club, or order online for delivery or curbside pickup today.