Robert Bell's

Wines of Canada

Since 1992

Wines of Canada

Light Reds

Light red wines generally have a lower alcohol content of less than 12.5 percent. They also have less tannins than medium- or full-bodied wines.

Light-bodied wines are more delicate and leaner. They typically contain the lowest amount of alcohol content, and they are lighter in the mouth. Due to their lightness, many people find that light-bodied wines are more approachable and pair well with lighter foods, such as white meat, seafood, or salads.

A wine drink who prefers white wine is more likely to enjoy a Light Red than a medium or full body red.

The body of the wine is "how the wine feels in your mouth" The reason alcohol is the main contributor to a wine’s body is because alcohol is what gives a wine its viscosity and is responsible for either the heavy or light mouthfeel we experience when we sip a wine. Viscosity is that term we learned in high school science, which is used to define a liquid in terms of how easily it responds to stress (e.g., water is less viscous than honey because it has less weight and moves more easily).

As a wine contains more and more alcohol, it becomes more viscous (i.e., it becomes heavier, and thereby feels fuller in our mouths). This is why we call a heavily viscous wine full-bodied and a low viscosity wine light-bodied.

Gamay is one of the best example of a light red.

Gamay is a purple-coloured grape variety used to make red wines , most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley Its full name is Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc. It is a very old cultivar , mentioned as long ago as the 15th century. It has been often cultivated because it makes for abundant production; however, it can produce wines of distinction when planted on acidic soils, which help to soften the grape's naturally high acidity

Gamay is grown in the BC Okanagan, and Ontario

Zinfandel is a variety of red grape planted in over 10 percent of California vineyards . DNA fingerprinting revealed that it is genetically equivalent to the Croatian grapes Crljenak Kaštelanski and as well as Tribidrag the Primitivo variety traditionally grown in Puglia (the "heel" of Italy ), where it was introduced in the 18th century. The grape found its way to the United States in the mid-19th century, and became known by variations of the name "Zinfandel", a name of uncertain origin.

The grapes typically produce a robust red wine, although a semi-sweet rosé (blush-style) wine called White Zinfandel has six times the sales of the red wine in the United States. The grape's high sugar content can be fermented into levels of alcohol exceeding 15 percent.

The taste of the red wine depends on the ripeness of the grapes from which it is made. Red berry fruit flavours like raspberry predominate in wines from cooler areas

Pinot Noir , Gamay's  more elegant cousin, is a popular and versatile light to medium bodied wine also produced around the world in countries including, Canada, US, France, Italy, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. It's packed with red fruits like raspberries and cherries on the nose and delivers a long smooth finish on the palate. 

Nebbiolo is an Italian red wine grape variety predominantly associated with its native Piedmont region. Nebbiolo can be found in the Okanagan and Ontario but seems to have higher tannins and alcohol content than the Italian regions. Some would move Bebbilio to the medium bodied wines.

Perhaps the light red of all is Lambrusco, which is the name of several wine grapes native to Emilia-Romagna in Northern Italy (Same region as Parmigiano-Reggiano). There are about 15 kinds of Lambrusco grapes. Some call it the perfect wine to pair with Turkey.

Zweigelt is a red wine grape variety developed in 1922, at the Federal Institute for Viticulture and Pomology Austria , by Fritz Zweigelt . It was a crossing of St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch . It is now the most widely-grown red grape variety in Austria. The grape has practical mild disease resistance to the common mildews and is relatively cold hardy to approximately -20c.

Zweigelt vines have made in roads in the Canadian wine regions of Ontario 's Niagara Peninsula and of British Columbia. Stonehill (no longer open) planted the first Zweigelt in British Columbia in 1997 Arrowleaf Cellars among the first planting 2 acres in 1999. Other producers include Kalala Organic Estate Winery

Isabella winery in Richmond has a Zweigelt icewine as does Summerhill Pyramid Winery in Kelowna.

St. Laurent an Austrian grape is in the same family as Pinot Noir! Wines are typically darker and richer than Pinot Noir. Some BC wineries and Ontario (PEC) are planting the grape. Saxon Estate in the Okanagan grows some. Nichols on the Naramata Bench grows some. Harwood Estate in Ontario has St Laurent.

Pinotage a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety. It was bred there in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut (Cinsaut was known as "Hermitage" in South Africa during that time, hence the portmanteau name of Pinotage). It typically produces deep red varietal wines with smoky, bramble and earthy flavours, sometimes with notes of bananas and tropical fruit . Pinotage is often blended, and also made into fortified wine and even red sparkling wine . The grape is a viticultural cross of two varieties of Vitis vinifera , not a hybrid .

Lake Breeze Vineyards may have been the first winery in Canada to grow and produce Pinotage, Pinotage in BC is produced by The View Winery, Stoneboat, , Hillside and Inniskillin Okanagan.  Del Gatto Estates and the Cape in Ontario produce a Pinotage.

Grenache (pronounced gren-aash ) is one of the most widely planted red wine grape varieties in the world. It ripens late, so it needs hot, dry conditions such as those found in Spain , the south of France , and California. It is generally spicy, berry-flavoured and soft on the palate with a relatively high alcohol content , but it needs careful control of yields for best results. It tends to lack acid , tannin and color , and is usually blended with other varieties such as Syrah , Carignan , Tempranillo and Cinsaut .

Its use in BC is more experimental. Stag Hallow release a Grenache.

There a few other light red grapes, they are not common to Canada. They include Cinsault common to the south of France. Primitivo an Italian grape. Blaufränkisch  which is a German grape.Some wineries have tried in Canada.

Landot noir has been tested in Quebec. Landot 4511 a hybrid grapes created in 1950 after crossing several grapes. It can be found in New York state Ontario and Quebec. Used for blending.

Wines Under 12.5% alcohol (the alcohol percentage should always be written on the wine’s label) are said to light-bodied. These are generally the white wines we think of as crisp and refreshing.

Wines between 12.5% and 13.5% are considered medium-bodied. Good examples of these wines are Rose, French Burgundy, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.

Finally, any wine over 13.5% alcohol is considered full-bodied. Some wines that are normally over this alcohol level and considered full-bodied are  Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot and Malbec. While the majority of wines over 13.5% alcohol are usually red, Chardonnay is a great example of a white that often can also be considered full-bodied.

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