Light red wines in Australia

by Julie Styles
(Sydney)

Julie asks

Can you recommend some light red wines from Australia?

I don't have a great physical tolerance for Australian 'big' red wine (although I do like drinking them) - the side effect is a very red face and a big headache next day. In my travels, I noticed that the wines of Spain and Italy and France do not have this effect on me. I am not sure why, but they seem softer and more mild. Drinking them is as equally pleasurable without a constant look of embarrassment.

I would love it if you could explain why this is so, and if there are any Australian red wines you can recommend that might not have such a big effect. I could say in advance, that pinot noir is OK (but the 'table' variety with the more moderate price is not so appealing. Recently I have noticed a lot more European wines available in Australia, but it would be good to be able to give my $ to Australian producers if possible.

Darby Says:
Good question Julie. After spending a few months in France this year I can only agree with you.The style of wines in Australia is dictated to to some extent by the climate. Hot regions make overripe grapes with lots of sugar and hence high alcohol. The Europeans make much better lighter styles overall.

But there are some Aussie wines that you might try. Here are a few suggestions.

Pinot Noir is often a good choice as you say. The problem is that the quality of the wine at the budget end is variable, we don't want to be be paying $35+ for everyday drinking.

Gamay is an interesting grape variety - it is used to make Beaujolais in France, a style that is now out of fashion. There are a few producers in Australia, eg John Gehrig and Pfeifer in NE Victoria.

Just this week I had a varietal Cabernet Franc from Harcourt Valley in the Bendigo region. It was a lovely lighter style wine. It shows that you can make wines with flavour without stacks of tannin and alcohol.

Aussie wines from the Italian varieties are also worth looking at. But beware, many are made as imitation Shirazes. The clue is to look for the alcohol content, the lower the better. Try some Barbera or Dolcetto if you can find them.

Have you tried Tempranillo? There are some lovely ones around now. Brown Brothers will be in your local supermarket. I think it is a wonderful wine.

Red face and a hangover can be related to sulphur on the wine as well as the Macho levels of tannin and alcohol.

See Vinodiversity's variety index page for links to lists of Aussie producers for these varieties.

I'm sure other Vinodiversity readers will have been grappling with the same issue. Any suggestions? Please leave a comment.

Comments for Light red wines in Australia

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Nov 20, 2012
Tooth factor
by: Tracy

I have just recently been enjoying a red wine (never thought I would be anything but a Chardonnay drinker, but the winemakers are mucking with this wine and you never know what you're going to get!)So I am trying to like the red but it stains my teeth. I do like the Shiraz variety and a friend has suggested the Chianti. What would you suggest?

Thanks

Nov 20, 2012
Tooth factor
by: Tracy

I have just recently been enjoying a red wine (never thought I would be anything but a Chardonnay drinker, but the winemakers are mucking with this wine and you never know what you're going to get!)So I am trying to like the red but it stains my teeth. I do like the Shiraz variety and a friend has suggested the Chianti. What would you suggest?

Thanks

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