Whether you are selecting a red wine to go with grilled steak or a perfectly ripened cheese, dry wines are the best complement. Since wine labels do not overtly indicate the dryness of a particular red wine, let the region or grape variety be your guide. Dry red wines can be found in all the wine-producing regions of the world from California to New York, Spain to South America, and Europe to Australia.
The Definition of Dry
There is some confusion, especially among novice wine drinkers, as to the definition of dry red wine. A red wine can be fruity as well as dry, and some wine drinkers initially think that fruitiness in wine means that it isn't dry. Think about unsweetened cranberry juice — this is an extreme example as this juice is so tart as to be unpleasant to some. There is a considerable taste of the fruit, but there is no sweetness. A well-balanced, dry red wine should have fruitiness without sugary sweetness. There should be enough taste of the grape to give the flavor body and interest, but dry enough to complement your chosen food without tasting like soda pop.
The United States
Wine is produced throughout America, and virtually every region labels its wines by the name of the grape. While soil and climate will affect the final flavor of a particular grape variety, the characteristics of a cabernet sauvignon from Washington state will resemble one from Virginia. Dry red wines from the United States include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir and zinfandel.
The most well-known wine-producing countries in South America are Chile and Argentina. Look for cabernet sauvignon and malbec to find dry red wines.
Unlike North America, most wines in Europe are labeled with place names instead of grape varieties. Red wines from Bordeaux such as Médoc, Margaux, Pauillac, St. Estèphe, St. Julien, St. Emilion, Pomerol as well as those simply labeled Bordeaux are all dry. In Bourgogne (what Americans call the Burgundy region), red wines are made from pinot noir and go by names like Bourgogne, Côte de Nuits, Gevrey Chambertin, Clos Vougeot and Pommard. To the south of Bourgogne is the Côtes du Rhône. Here you will find the dry red wines Côtes du Rhône, Côte Rôtie, Hermitage, Gigondas and Châteauneuf du Pape.
Italy is famous for its dry red wines, and they are produced in many regions. These wines are chianti, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino nobile di Montepulciano.
Australia and New Zealand
In addition to cabernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir, dry red wines from Australia and New Zealand are made from the wine grapes grenache and shiraz.