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Red & Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine


March 12, 2012 Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » Red & Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine

Red Fruit Flavors in Wine

light red wines have red fruit characteristics such as cranberry, cherry, strawberry, raspberry and jam

How do I buy a wine when I don’t know what it tastes like? Refer to the guide below to discover what wines have dominant red fruit flavors vs. dark fruit flavors. For example a pinot noir often has cherry flavors and a cabernet sauvignon often tastes like black currants.

Cranberry Cherry Strawberry Raspberry Jam Plum Black Currant Blackberry Blueberry
Aglianico
Barbera
Bonarda
Cabernet Franc BLACK
Cabernet Sauvignon
Carignan
Carmenere
Corvina
Dolcetto
Gamay TART
Grenache
Lambrusco
Malbec SUGAR
Merlot BLACK
Montepulciano BLACK
Mouvedre
Nebbiolo TART
Nero d'Avola
Petite Sirah
Petite Verdot
Pinot Noir
Primitivo
Sangiovese
St. Laurent
Syrah/Shiraz
Tempranillo
Touriga Nacional
Zinfandel
Zweigelt

Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine

Wines with dark fruit flavors such as plum, currant, blackberry and blueberry

 

Red Fruit Flavors in Wine Varieties

Gamay

Gamay is better known as Beaujoulais. Most Beaujoulais are meant to be drunk within the year after they were produced and are light cherry with sometimes a banana-like flavor. There are finer more age-worthy Beaujoulais referred to as “cru Beaujoulais” and these wines often have raspberry aromas. These wines often have a green stem bitterness. Tart Cherry, Raspberry
 

Pinot Noir

When pinot noir has a cranberry flavor profile it is from a cooler climate such as Oregon, Marlborough, New Zealand and Burgundy, France. Cherry is the most common flavor found in pinot noir ranging from red to black cherry. Dark cherry wines indicate a warmer region such as Sonoma, CA; Central Coast, CA; Central Otago, New Zealand; Warm vintages in Oregon and Patagonia, Argentina. Strawberry aromas are a characteristic often found in New Zealand pinot noir. When a pinot noir has Raspberry flavors and it’s from America, this often means the wine was blended with some syrah to add extra body. Cranberry, Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry
 

St. Laurent

Widely grown in Czech Republic and Austria, from the same family as pinot noir. Cranberry, Cherry, Raspberry
 

Zwiegelt

Austrian red wine cross between St. Laurent and Gamay. Typically it will have tart cranberry flavors along with a peppery note. Cranberry, Tart Cherry
 

Lemberger (Blaufränkisch)

Similar in flavor to carmenere with a pronounced spiciness and more tannin than zwiegelt. It can be found being grown in America in Washington State and New York. Because of this, Lemberger will become more popular in America. Cherry, Raspberry
 

Grenache

Grenache can range in flavor greatly depending on where it’s grown. American grenache often takes on strawberry and jam flavors. Strawberry, Raspberry, Jam
 

Carmenere

Red Cherry
 

Tempranillo

Tempranillo is a Spanish grape used in Rioja. These wines can range from a light Crianza with more cherry notes to a rich dark Grande Reserve which sometimes even exhibits blueberry flavors because of extended time aging in oak. Red Cherry, Raspberry, Blueberry
 

Barbera

From northern Italy, barbera has a much more pale color and notes of cherry and unripe raspberry. From the US, barbera is more jam-like with ripe raspberry flavors. Cherry, Raspberry, Jam
 

Montepulciano

The primary grape in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Italy. This wine also has intense smokiness and big tannins as well as dark red fruits. Black Cherry

Sangiovese

Sangiovese comes from Italy and is grown all over. Traditionally, when it’s from Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino, it has a smokiness with dried cherry or strawberry flavors. When grown in the US, it has little to no smokiness and fresh strawberry and jam-like flavors. Red Cherry, Strawberry, Jam
 

Nebbiolo

Nebbiolo from northern Italy has very big tannins and is the grape in Barolo and Barbaresco. When it is made under the “Langhe” designation, it has much lighter flavors that remind me more of pinot noir (although still with stronger tannins). Tart Cherry, Strawberry, Raspberry
 

Merlot

Merlot in its lightest stages tastes of cherry and plum. However, many winemakers in America and France are making very rich styled merlots with extended oak aging that take on much darker fruit character and are hard to distinguish from cabernet sauvignon. Plum, Black Cherry, Jam
 

Lambrusco

Lambrusco is a grape often used and is a pale red sparkling wine from Lambrusco Italy. Currently Lambrusco is growing in popularity because of its light and refreshing character. Many lambrusco are slightly sweet although many higher end lambrusco makers are making dry-style wines. Strawberry, Raspberry
 

Zinfandel

America’s darling, Zinfandel is actually of Croatian origin. Regardless, America has some of the largest plantings of zinfandel which range from a lighter style (with about 13.5% alcohol) exhibiting strawberry flavors to a rich and high alcohol style tasting more like raspberries (and mocha!) Strawberry, Raspberry, Jam
 

Primitivo

Primitivo is very similar to Zinfandel in many characteristics but typically is made with less alcohol. It is light, with earthy clay-like notes to it and strawberry flavors. Strawberry, Raspberry, Jam
 

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet franc from France often has stronger notes of bell pepper and black pepper than red berry fruit. Cabernet franc from the US has more cherry notes as well as hints of bell pepper and sometimes, when grown in California, it has a very jam-like character. Black Cherry, Jam
 

Corvina (Amarone & Valpolicella)

Corvina is one of three grapes that make up Amarone. Amarone is known for its dried strawberry notes along with dried fruit aromas. Strawberry
 

Carignan

This grape is typically found in blends from the Cotes du Rhone. The grape is becoming more planted and more popular in the US both in Washington State and California. Besides the red cherry flavor, it also has a meaty character to the flavor that reminds me of salami. Cherry, Raspberry

 

Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet sauvignon has a wide range of fruit flavors from raspberry (in cooler climates such as Washington State) to blackberry (from hot climates such as California). The unique flavors in cabernet sauvignon are green bell pepper, black pepper with big tannins and tobacco notes. Raspberry, Plum, Black Currant, Blackberry

Malbec

Malbec can be lighter with less oak usage in the value range giving it more black cherry flavors. As it is exposed to more time in oak it has a candied blueberry note. Blueberry, Sugar Plum

Mouvedre

Mouvedre creates a very dark wine that has blueberry and rich earthy tar-like notes. Blueberry, Blackberry, Plum

Petite Sirah

Petite sirah produces wines with high tannins that are very inky. Often having a slight peppery note, petite sirah are commonly found in blends where added intensity is desired. Plum, Blueberry, Blackberry

Nero d’Avola

Traditional style Nero d’Avola (Sicily’s champion red grape) is earthy with dried fruit aromas such as raisins and figs. More and more winemakers in Sicily are experimenting with different winemaking techniques and Nero d’Avola becomes smoother with more blackberry and spice characteristics. Plum, Black Currant, Blackberry

Syrah / Shiraz

Syrah/Shiraz has a wide range of flavors. In France it almost takes on a black olive characteristic, whereas in Australia, where syrah is called shiraz, it tastes more of blackberry. Blueberry, Blackberry

Touriga Nacional

Dark and rustic, this grape is a dominant variety found in Port (Portugal). As a dry wine it is earthy and rustic but often has blackberry flavors. Black Currant, Blackberry

Bonarda

Bonarda is often used as a blending grape in Argentina with Malbec. It’s darker in color than malbec and adds tannic structure and earthiness. Blackberry

Petite Verdot

Petite verdot is very rarely offered as a single varietal wine. It is opaque with big tannins and when grown in France it smells earthy like tar. In America and Australia, petite verdot is much more fruity and smells like violets and blueberries. Plum, Blueberry

Dolcetto

Dolcetto is a high acid grape that exhibits blackberry aromas and typically has very tart flavors. It is one the the lightest dark fruit flavored wines and has bitterness on the finish. Blackberry

Aglianico

This is a very tannic wine that needs about 10 years of aging to taste more of the rich black currant and blackberry flavors it has. Black Currant, Blackberry

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By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards.