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Ranging in style from light and elegant to bold and structured, red wine is produced just about everywhere in the world where vines are planted. There are several dozen varieties that contribute to the majority of red wine production, some of the main of which are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. These are grown throughout the world in addition to the many native varieties found in their respective regions. Red grapes tend to ripen better in warmer, sunnier climates—producing robust and concentrated wines—though some of the world’s most elegant red wines come from cooler regions where alcohol levels are kept at bay and natural acidity remains crisp and refreshing.
Both red and white grapes have clear juice, but the color of red wine comes from the pigments in red grape skins. Along with pigments, also tannins and phenols (comnpunds responsible for the complex aromas and flavors in wine) are found in grape skins. When making red wine, the juice is left in contact with its skins, which allows all of these compund to be drawn out. Heat and alcohol generated by fermentation helps this process, called maceration, along. For a more deeply colored wine, the winemaker has several options in the cellar including increasing the fermentation temperature or prolonging the skin-contact period. The resulting shade of red can range from pale garnet to bright ruby to opaque purple.
Chateau Petrus 1987Bordeaux Red Blends from Pomerol, Bordeaux, France
Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (3 Liter Bottle) 1987Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California