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Red please – but which one?

Red wine being poured from bottle

Written by Paula Goddard

Paula started her home-made beer and country wine journey in the 1990s when she won the Tunbridge Wells Wine Circle Brookside Novices’ Cup, Ladies Trophy, E&R Jubilee Bowl and Wells Trophy. Which matched her move from the research team at a food packaging manufacturer and deciding to be more involved with the food inside the packaging while beginning teaching food and drink courses at adult education colleges. Tea tasting expanded into popular wine courses that were regularly over-subscribed. She now runs online wine courses with Buckinghamshire Adult Learning, and tasting events through her own wine website wineuncorked.co.uk. You’ll find her on social media dispensing tips, views and wine reviews as @wineuncorkeduk

23 March 2022

So you know you like red wine but how do you choose the red wine kit that will give the flavours you’ll enjoy. The answer lies in a cup of tea.

How do you take your tea?

Tea contains tannin and so does red wine. Tannin is the stuff that makes your mouth feel dry and, in large amounts, can make your mouth pucker. To soften this effect we often add milk and sugar to tea. But in red wines it’s not that simple.

So to choose the right red wine kit you’ll need to know whether you like your red wines light and easy drinking with lower levels of tannin, full on with higher levels of tannic astringency, or somewhere in-between with red wines that taste smooth and fruity but with a bit of cinnamon spiciness in the flavour too.

To do this we can compare our taste preferences by how we like our cup of tea.

With or without?

So how do you like your tea?

With milk – milk smoothes out the tannins in tea and so if you like your tea this way then that suggests you’ll also like red wines that have their tannins smoothed out. Look for words like smooth, silky, velvety, easy drinking on the wine kit. Try making a Merlot.

With sugar – this means you prefer your drinks slightly sweet. This doesn’t mean you should only buy sweet tasting dessert wines. Look for ripe fruity flavours to describe the kit. Try making a Spanish or Italian red wine kit.

Black – your taste buds can tolerate both tea and wine with tannins. Go for a Shiraz kit.

Black with lemon – then you prefer citrusy sharp flavours, and can handle some tannin. Try a Pinot Noir or a Chianti-style red wine kit.

Which red wine kit?

Okay but let’s get to the specifics.

Beaverdale 30 bottle Cabernet Sauvignon (£45) Blackberry and cherry flavours with a bit of spiciness and higher levels of mouth-drying tannin. You might want to but this wine aside for a few months before you drink it to allow the tannins to soften and smooth out.

Soloman Grundy 30 bottle 7-day Gold Shiraz (£24.99) The 7-day wine kits are designed to be low in tannin so that you can drink them as soon as you’ve made them and not put them aside for a few months to mellow.

Winebuddy 6 bottle 7-day Merlot (£9.99) Soft plum flavours.

Beaverdale 30 bottle Chateau Du Roi (£45) lots of fruity flavours with oaky creaminess but little tannin – a nice compromise.

Cantina 28 bottle 5-day Red (£33.95) Similar in flavour to Italian Chianti. So expect sharp and fruity flavours with some mouth-drying tannins. But it’ll be a good match to your pizzas.

Cellar 7 30 bottle Italian red (£33.50) Easy drinking plum and cherry flavours with little tannin.

Cellar 7 30 bottle Spanish Rojo (£35) Notice the similar spelling to that famous Spanish red Rioja? Well they can’t call it that as you’ll be making the wine and not a Spanish winemaker. But it’ll taste something like it with smooth fruitiness and some tannin.

Magnum 30 bottle Dry Red (£18) A budget wine kit with the least amount of grape juice in it. But that does mean it’ll make the lightest tasting red.

On The House 30 bottle Pinot Noir (£44.99) Whether you buy a vineyard-made French red Burgundy or make it yourself, a Pinot Noir is a niche-flavoured red because of its earthy taste that comes with the cherry. If you’ve not sure if you like Pinot Noir then try buying a ready-made one from the supermarket first.

WinExpert Classic 30 bottle Australian Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre (£52.95) Top of the range kit with blackberry, dark chocolate and spicy flavours. There’ll be some tannin too to make this taste like the Aussie reds you buy in the shops.

WinExpert Classic 30 bottle Chilean Malbec (£52.95) The Malbec grape juice in this kit will make a wine tasting of blackberry, plum and spice. So like a mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

If you would like to read our guide to choosing a white wine kit you can do this here!

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