How well do you know your reds?

We all enjoy a red, but what do you really know about the choices?

Here’s a quick guide:

Rosé – can be quite dry, ranging to quite fruity. Usually more expensive examples are dry (where the presence of sweetness is not required to cover up insipid flavour). Medium/light-bodied reds – Pinot Noir and Grenache are medium and medium/light-bodied reds and match lighter foods.

Blends of Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot and Mourvedre are usually medium-bodied and rich and round to taste. Some are much fuller flavoured.

Generous soft reds – Shiraz is the prime example. Some wines are products of old vine low yield vineyards, usually in warm regions such as the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale. The resulting wines are very full bodied and fetch high prices.

Firm tannin reds – Cabernet Sauvignon is not as big and rich as Shiraz but has more tannin and a longer palate impact – the drying taste similar to a strong cup of tea without milk.

Cabernet, as it is called for short, has a great lingering flavour – more so than Shiraz. After you swallow it, you can taste it for many seconds after. Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, both Italian varieties, have a strong savoury “tartness” which is very good with strong meats and game dishes.

Tempranillo,the Spanish variety, tends to offer a savoury firm taste that matches game and strong foods.

For tips on wine and food procedures, see Andrew Corrigan’s book Table Talk at