MasterChefs red wine manual

If vin rouge is what floats your beverage boat, check out our list of red wine varieties...

Cabernet Sauvignon This grape, which results in a peppery wine, was the most widely planted throughout the 20th century. The hardy vines and skins have made it popular with winemakers, but many label it a “coloniser” that has taken over wine regions unnecessarily.

ChiantiThis Tuscan medium-bodied, medium-acidity wine dates back to the 14th century, but people may have been deterred from drinking it after Silence of the Lambs cannibal Hannibal Lecter stated in the movie that he liked to wash down human livers with fava beans and “a nice chianti”!

MalbecA purple grape variety resulting in an intense, inky wine with strong tannins. Some claim that this grape was named after a Hungarian peasant who introduced the variety to France.

MerlotThis blue-coloured grape is used to produce a medium bodied wine with strong berry flavours. It is grown all over the world from Canada to Chile, South Africa to Slovenia.

NebbioloThe name of this grape is thought to derive from Italian word ‘nebbia’ meaning ‘fog’. This is because it is harvested throughout October, when a deep fog sets into the Nebbiolo vineyard region in Italy. The light red wine produced can have aromas such as cherries, tobacco and truffles.

Pinot Noir Although originally associated with Burgundy in France, Pinot Noir is very popular in Australia and New Zealand. It is famously difficult to cultivate, but has a deliciously curranty flavour.

RiojaThis Spanish grape used to be thought of as producing just red wine, but rose and white varieties are now becoming popular in Europe. Rioja can produce a wide range of bouquets and flavours, from caramel to oak to vanilla.

SangioveseSome winemakers blend their sangiovese with cabernet sauvignon to counterbalance the potentially acidic flavours, but others have produced elegant wines by allowing the grape to grow in limestone soils.

Shiraz or Syrah Shiraz wine thrives in stony granite earth, resulting in an acidic, strong-flavoured wine with undertones of chocolate, smoked meat or liquorice.

TempranilloBlack grapes known as “tempranillo” are widely grown in Spain to make full-bodied red wines. They grow well in high altitudes but have virtually no resistance to pests or disease.


This red grape can be found in more than 10% of Californian vineyards. Although it produces a strong red wine, it’s more commonly turned into a sweet blush known as ‘White Zinfandel’.