Wine connoisseurs love dry red wine for its lack of sweetness and high tannin levels. The result of these characteristics provides a fantastic sensory experience for wine lovers who appreciate the complexities of flavors and aromas of the fully fermented and aged red wine grape.
Distinguished from sweet red wine, dry red wine is also a popular ingredient in many recipes, especially for savory dishes like steak and other red meats. Notably, dry red wines are also a perfect dessert wine, leaving the sugary sweetness for the dessert itself.
In this guide, you’ll discover what makes a truly dry wine, what the most popular styles are, why it’s great for cooking, and 5 of the best dry red wines to drink today.
What is Dry Red Wine?
Dry red wine is a type of red wine that has no residual sugar. It does not have any sweetness in flavor and usually has very high levels of tannin. The typical percentage of its sweetness is somewhere below 1%.
It is a much-loved type of wine by wine drinkers and connoisseurs due to its aging potential. The longer dry red is kept in a cellar, the tastier it becomes.
Dry red wine features very low levels of sweetness because it goes through the full fermentation procedure where the yeast completely devours all the sugar from the pressed wine grape.
The most popular region producing dry red wines are the Bordeaux and Cotes du Rhone regions of France, but many countries around the world also manufacture their very own versions of the wine.
Here is a brief discussion on the different dry red wine types and styles:
As mentioned earlier, the best region that produces among the most exquisite dry red wines is from the Bordeaux region of France. This style of dry red wine features aromas of dark cherries, tobacco, and stone fruits. It also features a high tannin level, and pairs incredibly well with red meat steaks and dishes.
Though the most famous Bordeaux-style dry reds are found in France, other countries in the world are also noted for producing this wine style, such as the US, Italy, and South America.
The most popular red grape variety used in this dry red style include Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
This style of dry red wine comes from the Cote du Rhone region of France and features distinct aromas that include cherries, nutmeg, and stone fruits. This style pairs well with poultry, cured meats, and game meats. Though Cote du Rhone is the most famous region producing this style, some other countries are also noted for producing some of the best Rhone-style dry red wines, such as the US, Spain, and Australia.
The most popular red grape varieties used in this wine style include Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.
The 5th most-planted grape globally, which is Pinot Noir, is grown in Burgundy, where this red grape variety is used to make Burgundy-stye dry red wine. It is less tannic than the other styles and light-bodied. It also features good aging potential, with its flavor becoming more sophisticated and creamy with age.
Notes of black cherry, raspberry, and strawberry are its most distinctive flavors.
Other red grape varieties are also used in making dry red wine, which includes Nebbiolo, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Gamay, and Tempranillo.
Dry Red Wine for Cooking
While dry red is beloved by wine drinkers for its complexity with age, it’s also among the most popular wines used for cooking. Many recipes call for dry red wine in sauces, as a marinade, and as a means to tenderize meat, such as braised beef.
What makes it an essential ingredient in many recipes is its ability to enhance the flavor and color of dishes. Primarily used for its acidity, the alcohol content evaporates as the wine is exposed to high temperatures, leaving behind its rich aromas and flavors.
Though generally, dry red wine is great for cooking, varieties with moderate tannins are the most ideal. This includes grape varieties such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, and Sangiovese. These varieties are perfect to cook with beef stew and spices. On the other hand, Zinfandel and Syrah dry red wine are ideal for lamb, beef roast, and for braising ribs.
5 Best Dry Red Wines Today
Dry red wine is easily available and accessible because the red grape varieties used in producing them are found across the world. Given this fact, it can be overwhelming to find the perfect dry red wine that best serves your preferences and needs.
Fortunately, we’ve rounded up 5 of the best dry reds today that range from simple bottles to the most exquisite in the market. Here are 5 of the best in the world to try today:
1. Bodegas Muga Aro 2010
This bottle comes from the Rioja appellation in Spain. It features bold aromas with hints and undertones of oak and vanilla. Other flavors include plum, blackberry, and smoke, which have been highlighted by their excellent aging potential.
Dry red wine from Spain is typically fruitier in flavor and milder than other styles since the grapes are grown in a warm climate.
2. Giacomo Conterno Monfortino 2010
This 2010 vintage from Italy is made of 100% Nebbiolo grapes. These grapes provide a unique tart taste, high levels of tannin, and high acidity. It is ideal to pair with beef, lamb, and pasta. Notes of delicate chocolate, cherry flavor, oak and smoke are featured in this bottle of dry red.
3. Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2013
This bottle from Australia is milder and easier to drink than most dry red styles. It is a unique blend of Cabernet and Shiraz, featuring flavors aromas of licorice, vanilla, and oak. It is light-bodied featuring a fruitier aroma, with medium acidity and tannin levels.
4. Chateau Lafite Rothschild Carruades de Lafite 2012
The Chateau Lafite Rothschild estate is known worldwide as among the most sought-after producers of dry reds. This 2012 vintage features notes of oak, leather, and tobacco, with grape varieties of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon having grown in the Bordeaux region.
5. Chappellet Cabernet Franc 2017
The Chappellet winery is located on Pritchard Hill, which is world-renowned for crafting masterful and long-lasting Cabernet Sauvignon. This 2017 cabernet features notes of dark cherry fruits, creme de cassis, olive tapenade, with undertones of wild sagebrush, espresso bean, and spice notes.
Dry red wine may not be something for the novice wine drinker, or for anyone who wants a milder or sweet wine experience. Its flavors are complex, with no hints of sweetness, yet offer sophisticated flavors as it ages. Great for cooking and for giving a rich sensory experience for those in the know, dry red wine is another must-have in every wine connoisseur’s collection.