‘I do not really like red wine‘, no not me! [ED], this is something my WSET students sometimes tell me, or they prefer white wine to red wine; but then there are those that love, and would much rather have, a big, bold, structured red wine.
Another common thing I hear wine drinkers say is that red wine gives them a headache, or gets them drunk too quickly. I was at a wine tasting the other night and one lady said exactly that, ‘I cannot drink red wine it gets me woozy very quickly, whereas I can drink more white wine, without the same affect’.
Red wine does often have more alcohol, so I personally think that this is the problem most of the time, another lady in our group put it this way ‘it’s the two bottles of white you had beforehand that is the problem’.
Something we do at the beginning of our WSET Level 1 courses to explain red wine is a great little exercise involving peeling a black grape, this helps the student to understand that getting black grapes for red wine ripe is not just about sugar ripeness levels, but about getting those skins ripe too, i.e. if the skins do not ripen properly the tannins will taste green and very bitter, which to those particularly sensitive to bitterness that red wine would be just too unpleasant.
So there is red wine, and red wine, oh and red wine. If you get piddly quickly on red wine perhaps start looking at those alcohol levels, wine varies from around 8 to 15 per cent alcohol by volume, so a glass (125ml) could have around one unit or nearer to 4 units if it is a 250ml glass of 15% wine. So another thing to think about when you order a ‘glass’ of red wine, how big is that glass? A great little tool is provided on the Drinkaware Trust website it also tells you the calories you are consuming!
If you do have this experience with red wine but still want to try some, then look from ones from cooler climates, whereby the grapes have been able to increase their sugar more slowly, allowing the tannins to get fully ripe before the sugar levels get too high. Suggestions would be wines from Alsace, Germany, Loire Valley, England for starters. The Wine Society have some red wine options that are around 12% abv from the Loire, Waitrose an English red wine. Want more suggestions just ask!