Red Wines From Lightest to Boldest (Chart)

Identify similar tasting red wines based on their intensity from lightest to boldest.

Red Wines from Lightest to Boldest

Red Wine Boldness Chart by Wine Folly

Just 32 red wine varieties make up a majority of the wine available in the marketplace. If all red wines were placed on this chart, there would be hundreds!

By the way, it’s possible to find a wine that doesn’t line up exactly as depicted. Still this chart helps discover which red wines are bolder than others.

Where does boldness in wine come from?

A combination of several fundamental traits in wine define how bold it is. For example, the tannin level in wine indicates boldness, and so alcohol level. Higher alcohol wines tend to taste bolder.

On the other hand, wines with lower alcohol, less tannin, and higher acidity are lighter-bodied.

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Another common way to identify a wine’s position in the spectrum has to do with its dominant fruit characteristics:

TIP: Wines may taste different than depicted depending where they’re grown and how they’re made.

Climate Types in different red wine varieties
This chart shows us several red wine varieties and the climate types they prefer. Jones et all 2006

Climate Affects Boldness in Red Wine

The fascinating thing about wine grapes is the wide range of climates in which they can grow. However, you’ll notice that certain varieties grow only in cool climates and vice versa. Cooler climates tend to produce lighter red wines with higher acidity.

Here are a few useful takeaways from this chart:

  • Pinot Noir does not appear to grow alongside Cabernet Sauvignon
  • We can expect Cabernet Franc to have higher stylistic range based its ability to grow in varied climates.
  • Merlot can grow in cooler climates than Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Bolder wine varieties tend to grow in warmer climates
  • Lighter-bodied wine varieties tend to grow in cooler climates

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly