Many white wine lovers want to cross over into the world of reds, but it’s usually the heavy drying that tannins produce on the palate that stifles their leap. The tannins develop as red grapes soak with their skins during fermentation, a process most white wines do not undergo. This process creates a substantial difference in the taste of white and red wines.
The good news is there are many red wines with moderate or even soft tannins offering a subtle, juicy taste similar to white varieties. Here are a few that just might convert dedicated white wine drinkers to the enticing world of reds.
Lambrusco is the white wine drinker’s dream in a red wine. Not only is it refreshing, with barely noticeable tannins, it is extremely low in alcohol (usually only 8 percent ). It’s made in the Emilia Romagna region in Northern Italy. Many think of it as the sticky sweet wine in mass production in the 1970s. But don’t confuse all Lambrusco as being equal. Quality Lambrusco is such a joy to drink because it has a slight bubbly spritz with flavors of blueberry to strawberry.
- NV Lambrusco dell’Emilia Lambrusco, Italy (about $10 retail)
- NV Santo Stefano Lambrusco, Italy (about $14 retail)
Pinot noir may be the standard for light-bodied, low-tannin red wine. You can compare it to almost the opposite end of the spectrum of a big, bold cabernet sauvignon. It is used in some of the most celebrated wines of all time, but can be found in values throughout the world. These wines will have low tannins and taste of strawberry and cranberry, with fresh fruity aromas.
- 2013 Irony Monterey Pinot Noir, California (about $11 retail)
- 2012 Schug Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, California (about $24 retail)
Gamay is best known as the grape behind the famed Beaujolais of France. The most famous is Beaujolais Nouveau, which is bottled and on retail shelves within months of production. The reason for its freshness is because it is designed to be consumed within a year of bottling. Beaujolais is truly a white wine drinker’s bridge to trying red wines, with a light taste of strawberries, raspberries and ripe cherries.
- 2013 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais, France (about $10 retail)
- 2013 Louis Jadot Beaujolais, France (about $18 retail)