6 Best Dry Red Wines for 2023 [Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir]

Looking for a new dry red wine? From Cabernet Sauvignon to Shiraz, we’ve got you covered. Whether it’s your first time buying or you just need a refresher course in the basics, find out about the best dry red wines today.

Best Dry Red Wines

Dry red wines are a sophisticated bunch. Their complexity evokes a whole range of flavors that picking the right one to pair with specific food can be a complicated decision. To help you, we have listed six of our favorite types of dry red wine, along with recommended bottles for you to try.

Cabernet Sauvignon

red wine in glass

​Cabernet Sauvignon is grown in a wide range of climates all over the world, and so can have a variety of different flavors. However, the best cabs are very hearty and boast warm, oaky, spicy flavors.

​They’re beautifully full-bodied, and can have savory tastes like bell and black pepper, while also being sharp and sometimes a little bitter.

Cabernet Sauvignon characteristics flavor body

Major Regions: France, Chile, United States, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Argentina

Cabernet Sauvignon Taste Profile: Black cherry, black currant and blackberryOther: black pepper, tobacco, licorice, vanilla and violet

Alcohol Content: 13.5-15.5%

Pest Paired With: Red meats, bitter greens, brie, cheddar

Why Not Try: Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir grapes date back to the Roman era, and has remained popular for good reason: Its light-to-medium nature matches a wide spectrum of foods, which makes pairing it with meals simple. If you’re out with friends and everyone orders different entrees, your best bet to make everyone happy is to order Pinot Noir for the table.

It’s light enough to match creamy and salmon dishes, but also complex enough to complement dark meats. The perfect failsafe option.

pinot noir body characteristics profile diagram

Major Regions: Argentina, California, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Oregon

Pinot Noir Taste Profile: Cranberry, cherry, raspberry, licorice, cola, mushroom, vanilla, clove, wet leaves, tobacco, caramel

Alcohol Content: 11-14%​

Best Paired With: Grilled salmon, chicken, lamb, sushi, creamy sauces, spicy food, salmon, tomatoes

Why Not Try: Astro Costera Santa Macarena Pinot Noir 2015


Red fruits, easy tannins and a soft finish are the characteristics of this popular wine. Merlot has smooth flavor and hints of plums, currants and other berries, and its low acid content makes it ideal for people who don’t like strong red wines. The varietal pairs well with an eclectic mix of foods including steak, lamb, tuna steak and cheese.

In short, it goes with almost anything.

merlot wine comparison to other red wine body diagram

Major Regions: France, Italy, California, Washington, Australia, Chile

Merlot Taste Profile: Black cherry, raspberry, plum, graphite, cedar, tobacco, vanilla, clove, mocha

Alcohol Content: 12-15%​

Best Paired With: Anything

Why Not Try: Montes Single Vineyard Merlot 2015


Sangiovese is a savory-tasting wine, boasting a wide range of tastes, from fruity to earthy. However, regardless of where it’s grown, it always exhibits cherry flavors with more subtle notes of tomato.

The most popular Sangioveses always manage to strike a balance between their fruit and earth components. If you do manage to get something in between the two, then you’ll find that it goes superbly with most Mediterranean or Italian dishes.

sangiovese wine diagram

Major Regions: Italy, Corsica, Argentina, California, Washington, Romania, Australia, Chile

Sangiovese Taste Profile: Tart cherry, red plum, strawberry, fig, tomato, leather, roasted pepper, smoke, oregano, thyme, clay, brick, tobacco, dried roses, potpourri

Alcohol Content: 12%

Best Paired With: Italian and other Mediterranean-style cuisines

Why Not Try: Il COlle 2012 Brunello di Montalcino


Tempranillo is a medium-to-full-bodied wine not too dissimilar to Sangiovese or Cabernet Sauvignon. It comes with a fairly broad range of flavors, depending on whether its an Old World or New World vintage. Regardless of which one you go for, it pairs brilliantly with a lot of different food types.

Spanish vintages sometimes have a mild and smooth taste of leather mixed with cherries, while American and Argentinian Tempranillos tend to deliver beautifully crafted cherry and tomato flavors.

A good Tempranillo will taste full-bodied and with a hint of new oak aging, although it does appear a little lighter in color when compared to other full-bodied wines, like Shiraz. It manages to maintain a big flavor without ever feeling too heavy.

Tempranillo wine diagram

Major Regions: Spain, Portugal, USA, Australia

Tempranillo Taste Profile: Cherry, plum and tomato, leather, tobacco, vanilla, clove

Alcohol Content: 13-14.5%

Best Paired With: Lasagna, pizza, grits, polenta, tacos, nachos

Why Not Try: La La Land Tempranillo 2015


Syrah and Shiraz are some of the darkest full-bodied red wines in the world. They have dark fruit flavors, ranging from blueberry to black olive, and pair well with barbecue, Mexican dishes, and beef.

Its taste starts with something punchy before tailing off to a spicy and peppery note that lingers a little after. Because of this front-loaded style, Syrah is often blended with other grapes that help offer a little more mid-palate and overall make the wine taste a little more complete and well-rounded.

syrah wine diagram

Major Regions: France, Australia, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, USA, Italy, Chile

Syrah Taste Profile: Blackberry, blueberry and boysenberryOther: olive, pepper, clove, vanilla, mint, licorice, chocolate

Alcohol Content: 14-20%

Best Paired With: Steak, beef, wild game, stews

Why Not Try: Penfolds St Henri Shiraz 2015

All color graphics courtesy of Wine Folly