Our Starting Guide to Choosing Red Wine

What red wine is the best? This is perhaps one of the most loaded questions about wine, and the most subjective of answers. But the honest answer is that there isn’t a ‘best’ one.

What is best to one person is not best to the next. Our enjoyment of red wine comes down to where and when – and with what – we’re drinking it. This can make shopping for the ‘best’ red wine a daunting prospect. Which is why this week, at Ideal Wine Company, we’re giving you a helping hand with some things to think about so you can find your ‘best’ red wine.

Ideal Wine Company red wine guide
What red wine is the best?

What makes a great red wine?

A great red wine is ultimately subjective – what you love, others may hate. It all comes down to personal taste. However, there are some basics qualities that popular red wines all share. A great starting point for finding your ideal variety is looking out for these features:


  • High levels of tannin
  • High levels of alcohol
  • Heavier body
  • Complexity
  • Acidity

These are ultimately the factors that separate red wine from white and rosé. All these qualities come from the fermentation process, where the grapes skins are left in the tank along with the juice. To find out more about what qualities your wine will have, its best to look to the grape used and the region. These will tell you what flavour you can expect.

What wine has your favourite quality?

Next take the qualities you’re looking for and find a match. Here we’ve taken the most popular qualities a red wine can have and matched it to the perfect red wine for you.

  • Acidity – Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the perfect red wine for understanding acidity, making it a great starting point. When you taste Pinot Noir for the first time, you’ll experience a puckering sensation in your mouth, as though drinking a fizzy drink. This is the acid at work. A good bottle of Pinot Noir has exactly the right balance of tannins and acidity to compliment the fruity nature of the wine.

Also try: If you like Pinot Noir, the chances are you’ll enjoy other highly acidic red wines such as Grenache.

  • Body – Syrah/Shiraz

The body of red wine tends to be heavier than white because of its composition. If you’re after a full-bodied red wine, Syrah – or as it’s known in New World varieties, Shiraz – is an excellent example. This should give you darker flavours, such as plum, chocolate and tobacco, adding to its velvety texture.

Also try: Malbec is also a delicious full-bodied wine, so is always worth trying.

  • Tannin – Cabernet Sauvignon

Tannins leave your wine feeling a little bit dry. If you’re after a tannic wine, look for a Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s perennially popular in the wine-drinking world, because of its rich, spicy flavour and complementary pairing with red meat.

Also try: If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll also enjoy Merlot, Chianti and Rioja, which have similar qualities.

  • Alcohol– Zinfandel

Most red wines are high in alcohol, which tends to give it a bolder taste.  Zinfandel is one of the highest. A good bottle is around 15% ABV – the upper end of the scale. The high alcohol content causes Zinfandel to have bold and full – in other words, more intense. High alcohol levels come from a high amount of sugar in the fermentation process, which the yeast converts into ethanol. You can taste this sweetness in Zinfandel through its ripe, fruity flavour.

Also try: Shiraz and Madeira are other high-alcohol wines.

These tips should help you to find your ‘best’ red wine. Put them into practice and step beyond your comfort zone to try new things and – you never know – you might find a new ‘best’ red.