Red wine, made from the skins and insides of red or black grapes, is sometimes called "dark wine." Many types of red wine grapes grow in different parts of the world. In the United States, there are six types of red wine that are most common. Red wine grapes in the United States typically grow in California, Oregon, Washington, and New York state.
Merlot is probably one of the most popular red wines, and because it is generally light and smooth, it is one of the easiest wines to drink for people new to wine. The tannins -- or woody flavors -- are not as strong in a merlot, giving drinkers less of a "puckering" feeling on their tongue and throat. Because of its easy drinkability, merlot is paired with almost any type of food.
Cabernet Sauvignon, often called "Cab" for short, is another of the most popular red wine varieties, but some new drinkers find it more difficult to get used to its taste. The tannin effect in a Cab is quite strong, with a full-bodied flavor and drying effect in the mouth. Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with red meat.
Pinot Noir has greatly grown in popularity in recent years, due at least in part to the growing wine industry in the Pacific Northwest. Like merlot, pinot noir offers very little tannin effect, so the wine is easy to drink and quite light on the palate. The wine is often paired with fish, poultry, and lamb.
You may already be familiar with white zinfandel, which was extremely popular in the 1990s. On top of that lighter version, there is also a red version, grown exclusively in California. While the white version is light, the red version has a much heavier taste, with strong tannins. Red Zinfandel pairs well with tomato-based dishes and barbecue.
Perhaps the least known of all the wines listed here, Barbera is still a popular choice among California wine drinkers. This lighter wine is similar to merlot, with a light effect on the palate. The wine is versatile and can be paired with many foods, especially tomato dishes.
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