Rex Boller writes in to ask:
“What is the ranking of red wines, from heaviest to lightest?”
That’s an excellent question, Rex. What makes it so excellent? Well, because it’s nearly impossible to answer. But we’ll give it a shot…
If you want to speak in very broad generalities – and we do mean very broad – the “heaviest” wine among the more common reds would be Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by Zinfandel.
Next would come Pinot Noir, followed by Syrah/Shiraz and Cabernet Franc.
Then, one more level down – and leaning toward “light” – would be Merlot and Chianti.
We throw Chianti in the mix because it’s so well known among wine drinkers. Lesser known are some of the other Italian varietals (Barolo, Barbera, Barbaresco, et al), virtually all of which would be considered “heavier” than Chianti.
And let’s not forget blends of multiple varietals, which can range from light and immediately approachable to big and ageworthy.
Blends, a.k.a. cuvees, provide the best examples of why your question is so challenging to answer. In many, many cases, the style of the wine – heavy, light or somewhere in-between – has as much to do with the vintner’s style and preferences as the grape variety.
In winemaking, more than almost any other endeavor, style IS substance.