If you like grape candy, blackberry pie, or fresh plums, discover well-known and not so well-known wines that you are sure to love.
If You Like Black Fruit, You'll Love These
by Beth Richman
Because there are so many different styles of red wine, it may feel intimidating choosing one you'll like. In many instances, you'll be asked to describe your preferred body, acidity or tannins. One of my favorite questions to ask a customer is if they enjoy red fruit or black fruit notes. Sometimes customers have a strong preference for one over the other, and if this is the case, that helps narrow the choices down. If you are pro-red fruit, check out my article on wines best suited for lovers of red fruit profiles. If your go-tos are grape-flavored candy, blackberry pie, or fresh plums, keep reading to find well-known and not so well-known varieties that you are sure to love.
No matter what the winemaker calls this grape varietal, you’re sure to love the blackberry and plum characteristics in the bottle. Originally from southern France, you can find single-varietal Syrahs as well as “GSM” blends—Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre—from the Rhône Valley. The northern Rhône is where you may pay a bit more than you expect, but these dominant Syrahs are inky and full-bodied with dark fruit notes and savory characteristics of leather, earth, and smoked meat. Yum! Alternatively, you can try a Syrah from Australia, where this grape variety became the leading red varietal known as Shiraz. Similar to the distinction made between the styles of Pinot Gris versus Pinot Grigio, Shiraz has become synonymous with other New World winemaking regions that produce similar fruit-driven, jammy, and high-alcohol versions. Pair your Syrah or Shiraz with anything from the grill—lamb kebabs, braised short ribs, or pulled pork barbecue.
If you’re looking for a less common varietal with black fruit notes, look no further than Nero d’Avola. This important red varietal of Sicily is having its moment as a high-quality wine that doesn’t break the bank. Nero d’Avola typically expresses notes of black cherry, black plum, and licorice with hints of tobacco. The wines are usually medium to full-bodied with medium to high tannins and medium acidity. A perfect match for meaty stews and braised meats, like oxtail.
Blending is a key step in winemaking that is underappreciated, but sometimes it's in the combination of varietals that can create a masterpiece. For a red blend that provides a cornucopia of black fruit characteristics, look for a blend from the Douro or Alentejo. Touriga Nacional is one of Portugal’s high-quality varieties originally from the Douro Valley region, but leads blends all over the country. This grape gives us notes of blueberry, plum, and violets, with mouth-coating tannins sure to please any dry wine fan. In Alentejo, the drier, arid region in the south east, blends are dominated by Alicante Bouschet, a grape with both dark red skins and red juice that provide intense color and bold, smoky flavors of blackberry, brambles, brown sugar, and clove.
Tried any wines you’ve loved? Have another grape variety you enjoy for its black fruit characteristics? Let us know @dcanterwines!