Warming Up to Reds

By Felicia Sherbert

As the leaves begin to turn and the evenings get chillier and the nights grow longer, many people find themselves officially switching over to reds for the season to warm them up. But in fact, red wines are experiencing an incredible resurgence in the United States all year around. The year 2000 marked the first time since 1970 that red wines outsold white wines, a trend that continues. Just last year, wine drinkers consumed more red wines (44%) than whites (40%) and blush (16%). Why are wine lovers warming up to reds?

A lot of it has to do with changing eating habits. Most people today are actively seeking bolder flavors and exotic spices commonly found in ethnic cuisines such as Thai, Mexican, and Pan Asian. Even for the less daring, grilled steak is a staple on most menus, both at home and at restaurants. All of these flavorful foods happen to pair deliciously with a good red wine. Perceived health benefits associated with drinking red wine have also fueled the red bonanza.

Red wine drinkers fall into three basic categories:

1. The Red Wine Lover – drinks reds anytime, anyplace, and with anything.

2. Social Wine Drinker – enjoys reds, but goes with whatever the crowd is drinking.

3. White Wine/Blush Drinker – Within this group there are those who stick to white or blush, and others who would like to find an easy-to-drink red wine that they will enjoy.

Here are some tips to help all wine drinkers warm up to reds:

  • During warm weather seasons, enjoy lighter-bodied red wines, which are literally lighter in color, with more acid and very little tannin. Try Gamay from France, which produces Beaujolais, Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France, California, or Oregon, Tempranillo from Spain, Dolcetto, or Sangiovese from Italy.
  • Lighter reds are generally best when served at 55′ – 60′ F, and if you enjoy your beverages cooler, it’s OK to add an ice cube.
  • Bigger reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Nebbiolo from Italy, Shiraz from Australia, Rioja Reservas from Spain, Rh’ne wines, more expensive Burgundy and Bordeaux wines, are best when served at 60′-65′ F, and please hold the cubes.
  • Pair lighter-style red wines with lighter foods. Medium- and heavier-style reds pair best with more hearty foods.
  • Lighter-bodied reds like Beaujolais, which also happen to be light on your pocketbook, are great “hamburger” wines. They are extremely versatile and can also add flavor to roast chicken, salmon, pasta salads, pizza, grilled vegetables, crab cakes, chicken satay, sushi, quesadillas, and a host of other bold-flavored dishes.

While you may be warming up to reds now, just think-it won’t be long before you look for bigger reds to warm you up.

Kellie Strausser

Chef Kellie Strausser is a thirty-four year young self and restaurant taught Chef who dabbles in catering small functions as a hobby. Her love of creating carries over into several areas of her life, including freelance writing, art and her passion for cooking and entertaining for friends and family in Lancaster, PA.
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