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Wine Virgin

I have recently started to delve into the world of red wine. I do like the taste but am finding it a little too bitter/dry at times. Could you recommend a red wine (brand OR type i.e. shiraz, merlot, pinot noir etc.) that is sweeter but not nearly as sweet as those yucky Zinfandels? Please provide me with a few choices. I have heard that Port wine is the way to go. Any help would be appreciated.
Answer From Expert Roger Bohmrich MW

Many people have a low threshold in terms of bitterness as well as acidity. Some red wines possess noticeable tannins which can taste astringent or bitter, depending on individual sensitivity. Acidity is common to all wines, but the sensation of sharpness or "dryness" tends to be exacerbated when bitter compounds are also present.

If the Zinfandels you are referring to are the blush (rose) versions and you find these too sweet, then Port is not your answer as it is far sweeter, and not particularly versatile with food (except for chocolate, desserts and cheese).

Therefore, I think you may want to try types of red wine that are generally lower in tannin and acidity. This includes wines (all of which are dry) based mainly on:
Merlot - particularly basics from California, Australia or Chile, a vin de pays from the south of France, or a simple red Bordeaux
Grenache - Southern Rhone Valley appellations such as Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Ventoux, Costieres de Nimes; or the modestly prices examples from Australia
Gamay - Beaujolais-Villages and lighter cru Beaujolais like Brouilly or St. Amour
Pinot Noir - broadly speaking, California Pinots tend to be fruity and soft
Montepulciano - specifically the inexpensive examples from Abruzzo, Italy

About Our Expert

Roger has enjoyed a lengthy career in the wine trade as an importer and retailer, and at present he is an educator, speaker and consultant. He set up and managed Millesima USA, a New York merchant affiliated with a leading European company. Previously, he served as senior executive of importers Frederick Wildman & Sons. In recent years, Roger has judged wine competitions in Argentina, Turkey, Portugal, China and the U.S. Roger is one of America's first Masters of Wine.

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