Red Noble Grapes: Self-Guided Tasting

Person holding red wine glass at wine tasting - Red noble grape tasting.

The Noble Grapes are the prolific grapes of the wine world. They’re grown around the world while maintaining their core characteristics — or essence.

You can start exploring these wines by tasting the Red Noble Grapes side-by-side to reveal the type of wine you enjoy the most. In this tasting you’ll find:

  • Wine recommendations for the Red Noble Grapes: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz.
  • Tasting notes that describe the typical tasting profile for each of these wines.
  • Easy Rating System to rate each of the wines.

   

Conducting The Tasting

Up close image of a line of glasses for wine tasting.

There are several ways you can conduct the tasting.

  • Hold the red wine tasting separately from the white wine tasting.
  • Or conduct both the white and red noble grape tastings at the same time. Opening all bottles, taste the white first, then the red.
  • Invite friends and have each of them bring one of the wine recommendations.
  • Have everyone rate the wine for themselves, taking notes to identify which type of wine they like the best and why.

Red Wine Recommendations

I have recommended brands that should be relatively easy to find. I have also included filtered links to additional wine selections on Wine.com. This way you can easily order wines for your tasting.

Affiliate links are included for your convenience. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small amount. Your cost is the same with or without the link. Enjoy!

Meiomi Pinot Noir - California | commongrape.com

Pinot Noir: Originates in the Burgundy region of France. This is a light style red that is easy drinking by itself and one of the more versatile wines with food.

Meiomi
Pinot Noir
California

Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley, CA) options on Wine.com.

Bottle of Chateau St Michelle Merlot. Red Noble Grape Tasting.

Merlot: Originating in the Bordeaux region of France. It is usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon because the Merlot helps to smooth out the strong tannins typically found in Cabernet. California and Washington offer single varietal Merlot which is a great food wine. It offers a nice balance of smoothness and tannin.

Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard
Merlot
Columbia Valley, Washington

Merlot (Columbia Valley, WA) options on Wine.com.

Bottle of Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. Red Noble Grape Tasting.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Originates in the Bordeaux region of France. This wine is blended with Merlot in both France and Italy. In California, you’ll find the best single varietal Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a great food wine because of the tannins (gives a dry mouthfeel) which compliment fatty dishes. I highly recommend having steak, burgers, or roasted portabella mushrooms on hand to try with this wine.

Sterling Vineyards
Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California

Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA) options on Wine.com.

Bottle of Stolpman Syrah. Red Noble Grape Tasting.

Syrah/Shiraz: While this is Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, the name variation indicates the style of the wine. Syrah (typically French) is more elegant with tannin and soft fruit while Shiraz (typically Australian) is more fruit-forward (strong fruit flavors).

Stolpman Vineyards
Estate Grown Syrah
Santa Barbara, California

Syrah (Santa Barbara, CA) options from Wine.com.

Bottle of Penfold's Shiraz. Red Noble Grape Tasting.

Penfold’s Kalmina Bin 28
Shiraz
Barossa, Australia

Shiraz (Barossa, Australia) options from Wine.com.

Red Wine Tasting Notes

See

Compare the color of the wine by tilting your glass slightly with a white napkin or paper behind it. See how clear or opaque the wine is along with the type and depth of color. This helps tell you the style of the wine.

  • Pinot Noir: Light ruby and more translucent.
  • Merlot: Deep red in color. Slightly opaque.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark red in color. Very opaque.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Deep dark red or plum in color. Very opaque.

Sniff

Smell the wine in your glass. Swirl the wine and smell again. Red wine is typically not aromatic. Really stick your nose in the glass to identify the aromatic differences between the wine.

  • Pinot Noir: Not an aromatic grape. Notes of cherry, raspberry, vanilla, and toast.
  • Merlot: Not an aromatic grape. Notes of black cherry and plum.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Not an aromatic grape. Notes of black cherry, black currant, green pepper, and rich earthy scents.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Not an aromatic grape. Blackberry, coffee, and pepper.

Taste

Swirl the wine in your mouth to capture all of the flavors. You will notice certain notes initially while other notes will come through as you continue to taste the wine.

  • Pinot Noir: Light fruit flavors of cherry and raspberry. Medium levels of acidity. Light levels of tannin. Oak aging which gives hints of vanilla and toast.
  • Merlot: Black cherry, raspberry, plum. Medium levels of acidity and tannin. Oak aging gives hints of vanilla and toast.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: Black cherry, black currant, black pepper, green pepper, vanilla, and toast. Medium acidity and oak. Medium-high tannin. Medium to full body.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Black fruit, blackberry, coffee, pepper. Medium acidity and oak. Medium-high tannin. Full body. Shiraz typically has bolder notes of fruit, while Syrah will have subtler fruit notes.

Easy Rating System

After you taste each wine, give it a rating using this easy rating system. Add notes to help remember what you liked or didn’t like about the wine.

5pts   Love!
4pts   Like
3pts   Good, but not great
2pts   Meh
1pt     Not for me

Learn more about Red Noble Grapes:

Do a deeper exploration of these wines. Find out about the top regions and conduct a varietal specific tasting. For example, line up Pinot Noir from each of the top regions and compare.

Learn about Pinot Noir
Learn about Merlot
Learn about Cabernet Sauvignon
Learn about Syrah/Shiraz