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Red wine

glass of red wine

About red wine

Red wine comes from numerous grape varietals, but it is the grape-skins that are responsible for red wine's distinct colour. During fermentation, the skin is in contact with the grape's juice, which disperses both colour and tannins. The particular shade of red depends upon the grape used and the length of time the skin is in contact with the juice.

Red wine is classified by its "body type". A "light-bodied" wine has fewer tannins than a "medium-bodied" wine, which in turn has fewer tannins than a "full-bodied" wine. Examples of where different wines sit in this classification are shown below.

Learn more about types of red wine
Light Beaujolais
Loire Valley
Light to
Pinot Noir
Medium Rioja
Cotes du Rhône
Chilean Merlot
Nero D'Avola
Red Burgundy
Claret / Bordeaux blends
to full
from Australia,
Chile, South Africa
Crozes Hermitage, most
Northern Rhône
Chilean Carmanere
South African Pinotage
& South African
Red Zinfandel
Valpolicella Amarone

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon has a distinct blackcurrant aroma and is a most suitable candidate for ageing. It is the most widely planted and significant among the five dominant varieties in the Medoc district of France's Bordeaux region, and it is also the most successful red wine produced in California.

The grapes are small and spherical with black, thick, tough skin. This toughness makes the grapes fairly resistant to disease, and alongside its flavour, helps it to become one of the most popular red wine varieties worldwide.



Match with

Rich meats, game

Recommended recipes
Lightly spiced cottage pie
Garlic & rosemary lamb kebabs

Rich and lush flavours, with hints of blackcurrants. Cabernet Sauvignons such as this South African Western Cape have length and depth on the finish, and are perfect served with beef dishes.

cabernet sauvignon

Pinot Noir

A Pinot Noir aroma can be intense with a ripe-grape or black cherry aroma, often accompanied by a cinnamon spiciness. They tend to have a soft, velvety texture, and the best Pinot Noirs, such as The Co-operative Casablanca Valley Pinot Noir, can be likened to liquid silk. They do not have the longevity in the bottle that the darker red wines do.

Pinot Noir is grown in the following places: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United States.


Pee-no Nwar

Match with

Creamy, light cheeses, poultry, beef, fish, spicy food

Recommended recipes
Chicken enchiladas
Spiced chickpea and spinach rice

This is a violet wine presenting elegant, harmonious and perfectly balanced berry, oak and spice aromas. More weighty than some Pinot Noir, this example is medium-bodied with mature, smooth tannins and a long, persistent finish. A lovely match for the traditional turkey dinner with all the festive accompaniments.

pinot noir


Merlot tends to be less distinctive and slightly more herbaceous overall in both aroma and taste than Cabernet Sauvignon. It has more of a lush mouth-feel, which is very apparent in our Washington Hills Merlot.

Most major wine-producing countries have Merlot vineyards, including Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United States, and France.



Match with

Beef, lamb, pork and poultry

Recommended recipes
Moroccan lamb salad
Christmas ham

Fruity flavours make Merlot silky and easy drinking. Soft tastes of strawberries and plums make Lime Tree Merlot a fantastic partner to party food and cheeses.


Syrah / Shiraz

This grape is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguay and most of the United States. However, the name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia.

It is the primary and sometimes sole grape variety used to make Rhône wines of Côte Rotie and also forms the backbone of a Châteauneuf du Pape.

Syrah formed wines tend to be deep violet with a certain richness. They tend to be spicier rather than fruity. A prime example of this is our hugely impressive Great Southern Mount Barker Shiraz from Western Australia.


Sirra / shi-raz

Match with

Lamb, steak, rich and hearty flavours

Recommended recipes
Lightly spiced cottage pie
Sprout, courgette and leek bake in a stilton and cranberry sauce
Winter broth

Round, intense and fruity with a spicy finish, try a Shiraz or Châteauneuf du Pape alongside a traditional roast dinner, or to accompany hard cheeses.

syrah / shiraz


Malbec has a particular plum-like flavour, and falls between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot. They tend to have a very deep colour and ample tannin. Malbec truly comes into its own in Argentina, where it is the major red variety planted and is most often bottled as a single varietal. A fine example of a Malbec that we have in store is The Co-operative Fairtrade Organic Gran Reserva Malbec.



Match with

Spicy meat dishes, sausages

Recommended recipes
Lightly spiced cottage pie
Toad in the hole

Malbecs from Argentina are a beautifully deep red in colour, with plum-like flavours. Sitting between a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Merlot they are a perfect partner to spicy meat dishes.

fairtrade wine tasting

Fairtrade wine tasting

Welcome to The Co-operative Fairtrade wine section. The free to download attachments will provide further information on the Co-operative Fairtrade Wine Range and the benefits that the range has had on developing communities in Argentina, Chile and South Africa.

pdf download An introduction to Fairtrade wines from our expert wine buyer, and a look at wines from La Riojana in Argentina and Santa Irene in Chile.
Download part one
pdf download A further look at Chile and projects in Los Robles and Fairhills, plus an exclusive look at plans for two new projects located within the Western Cape in South Africa.
Download part two
pdf download A detailed guide to matching food types to the wines covered in the tasting notes.
Download part three

wine news bottle

Wine news


The Co-operative and Fairtrade Wine

In 2001 The Co-operative broke new ground by launching the UK's first fairly-traded supermarket wine, and we haven't looked back since. At the time there were no internationally agreed criteria for wine to carry the FAIRTRADE Mark, so we worked with Traidcraft the UK's leading fairtrade organisation, to set up a trading relationship with the Los Robles co-operative in Chile.

After the establishment of a criteria for Fairtrade Wine in 2004 The Co-operative began to work with the Du Toitskloof co-operative in South Africa, helping them to gain Fairtrade accreditation which they achieved in 2005. Shortly after, The
Co-operative was then able to launch its own range of Fairtrade wine from Du Toitskloof throughout its UK stores.

Today our range of wines carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark comes from all over the world, including Chile, Argentina and South Africa. Each of our Fairtrade wines tells a story; about struggling communities revived and renewed, about schools built, clean water supplied, and hope restored.

So when you're sipping our velvety Argentine red, enjoying a refreshing glass of our Chilean white, or celebrating with our Fairtrade Sparkling Brut, you can be sure that someone on the other side of the world is benefiting from a better deal that will improve their lives. Isn't that worth raising a glass to?

fairtrade wine

For more information on Fairtrade projects in Argentina, Chile and South Africa take a look at our Fairtrade wine notes.

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