The most planted grape in the world is cabernet sauvignon, and it's a safe bet. While some Cabs can be a fruity, French Cabs tend to be a bit more herbal. Look for notes of cherries and currants, as well as spices.
Flavour profile of Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon is a dry, full-bodied wine with medium to strong tannins. The flavours can vary from fruity to smoky oak with notes of cherries, currants, bell pepper, dark berries, tobacco, vanilla and cedar.
Merlot is the second-most planted grape, and it's a great entry point for someone trying to get into red wine. The wine is really "easy" to drink, meaning it's fruity and yummy and won't make your mouth pucker up with tannins.
Flavour profile of Merlot: Merlot is full-bodied with low acidity and tannins. Look for juicy flavours of plum, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, black cherry watermelon and chocolate.
Called Syrah in France and other European countries, and Shiraz in Australia, South America, and elsewhere, this wine is just plain fun to sip on—it can be peppery, spicy, and bold, with the flavour of rich fruits like blackberry. Break this one out after a long day when you want to sit with a book and a glass of wine and really taste something.
Flavour profile of Syrah or Shiraz: Shiraz is a bold wine with spicy and peppery elements. It can feature rich fruits like blackberry, plum, boysenberry along with clove.
Though its French in origin, most of the world's Malbec is now produced in Argentina so you may often see that country on its label. It's another easy drinking wine, with a deep purple colour and plum or cherry flavours, ending in a hint of smoke. It's another crowd-pleaser.
Flavour profile of Malbec: Features rich, velvety fruit flavours of blackberry, blueberry, plum or sour cherry, with hints of smoke and spice.
Among the lightest and most delicate wines with this hue, Pinot Noir won't punch you in the face like some reds can; it has a "light body" in the lingo and feels silky to the tongue. You might taste bright berries like raspberry or cranberry.
Flavour profile of Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is light and silky. It has the brightness of raspberry, with clove and floral notes. With age, its smoke and vanilla flavours became more prevalent.
Ciao, vino bello! Sangiovese is the biggest red grape in Italy and is associated with Tuscany—specifically, Chianti. Here's a wine that will do weird things to your mouth, as the acids will make it water and the tannins will stick to the sides. You might also taste tobacco, soil, and pepper. There's a whole lot going on with this one!
Flavour profile of Sangiovese: Features the flavours of pie cherry, tobacco leaf and anise, and will have vanilla and oak from the barrels its aged in.
Another Italian favourite, Nebbiolo also has strong tannins and tons of acid. It's a tricky wine, as the light colour belies the insane flavour coming to smash you. It's grown in northern Italy and is the grape behind the infamous Barolo and Barbaresco. The flavours of this wine get more interesting and complex as it ages, which is why it's a great one to splurge on... and then save for a special occasion.
Flavour profile: Nebbiolo features plum, tar and pie cherry flavours. It becomes much more complex and interesting with aging.