Red wines are bold, flavorful, and full of life, but sometimes red wines are a bit “too much” in personality and taste for some people. Because red wines are so complex and powerful, they can easily overwhelm people, causing distaste for red wines altogether.
Though we believe that there’s a red wine out there for everyone, we understand that some people feel like red wine is just not for them. To provide further insight into why some people reach for a bottle of white instead of red, here are the top 3 reasons why people don’t like red wine.
The Wine is Too Dry
When a red wine is referred to as “dry,” then the wine does not have any residual sugar. In other words, it’s not a sweet wine. Some people enjoy the dry taste of red wines, and others simply cannot stand the way dry red wines taste. Apart from the low sugar content, another reason why red wine can taste too dry is because it has not had a chance to “breathe” or aerate yet. We’ll discuss this further on in the article.
If someone does not enjoy red wine because it’s too dry, then consider a type of red that is known to be a little sweeter. Some of the best red wines that are a little on the sweeter, fruity, or jammy side are:
Lambrusco- semisecco (semi-sweet)
Lambrusco- dolce (sweet)
California or Oregon Pinot Noir (many can be somewhat fruity or jammy)
The Wine is High in Tannins- Causing a Headache and Cotton Mouth
Tannins are an important component of winemaking, as these natural compounds help to balance acidity and any sweetness that the wine might have. Made from grape skins, tannins are a type of polyphenol found in all wines, but they are the most powerful in red wines. Though tannins are an integral part of the winemaking process, some people have poor reactions to wines that are higher in tannins.
The two most common physical symptoms that people experience from high tannin wines are headaches and dry mouth (or cotton mouth). Though scientists are unsure of exactly how and why tannins cause headaches in some people, there are two popular theories:
Tannins release neurotransmitters associated with pain.
High tannin wines can indicate a higher histamine content, which is troublesome for those with a histamine intolerance. However, if you take an antihistamine 30 minutes prior to drinking red wine, then there is a 95% chance that you won’t experience a headache. Many people think that sulfites cause headaches, but sulfites rarely are the villain.
As for the “cotton mouth” or dry-mouth symptom, tannins interact with saliva in such a way that can make your mouth feel really dry. This feeling can be uncomfortable to some and might be a key reason for why someone prefers white wines over red wines.
The Wine Hasn’t Breathed or Aerated Yet
If you’ve ever wondered what the term “let the wine breathe” means, it’s a phrase that refers to the aeration process. By exposing wine to oxygen in the air for a select period of time (it’s up to you how long you want to aerate the wine), the tannins will soften. Many times, the flavor is “tight” meaning that it’s equivalent to a wound-up ball of yarn. Oxygen in the air unravels that metaphorical ball of yarn and helps to release the wine’s flavor. By letting the wine breathe, the flavor opens up, and the tannins soften, providing a true flavor profile that can be totally different from when you first opened the bottle. To aerate wine, you can simply swirl your glass or use an aeration product like a decanter (time-tested) or an aerator (instant aeration).
Because tannins play such a crucial role in the red wine experience, it’s important to note that aeration can help mellow out the bitterness of tannins. At Wine Tours by Design, we recommend sipping red wine first. If you like the flavor of the wine upon the first taste, then no aeration process is needed. If the wine needs aeration, taste the wine at different stages: once when the wine is first poured and then in 3–5 minute increments after that. If you use this method, you’ll experience how the flavor profile of wine changes as it’s exposed to oxygen.
It is generally best to aerate most red wines due to high tannin content. However, pinot noirs typically have a lower tannin content (though some will still taste dry), so pinot noirs do not usually need to aerate as long as other red wines, like cabernets or merlots, if at all.
Find a Red Wine That You Love
We get it—red wine isn’t for everyone, but we believe that if you keep these 3 reasons in mind when exploring red wine, you’ll be sure to find one that suits your tastebuds. The best introductory red wines are ones that are considered to be sweeter, jammy, lower in tannins, and aerated for a brief period of time.
Remember: the best wines in the world are the ones that you like! If it tastes good, drink it.
Additionally, wine tastings and tours are a great way to experiment with different red wines. This leaves room for all the fun in wine exploration with no risk! Interested in touring with Wine Tours by Design? Contact us!