Find your perfect glass of vino with our pick of the best red wines from across the world
Looking for the best red wines to enjoy this weekend? From bold Malbec to fresh and fruit-driven Pinot Noir, there’s a delicious bottle of red wine to suit every occasion, and it needn’t cost the earth, either.
There’s no need to wait for autumn to enjoy opening a bottle or two of red. It’s the perfect tipple to accompany a charcuterie board, to wash down a BBQ burger or to cosy up with your other half.
However, picking a new wine to try can be an expensive headache if you’re not sure what to look for. Should you choose something big and powerful or light and bright? Are you strictly a traditionalist, or are you open to mixing things up with the New World and natural wines?
We’ve rounded up our favourite fail-safe reds in every category, which are ideal for enjoying all year round. So make sure you check out our buying guide and recommendations below, before splashing the cash on something sub-par.
How to choose the best red wine for you
How much should I spend?
When it comes to wine, there’s no right answer. Bargain-basement, supermarket reds start at a couple of quid, but you could easily spend around £50 on a heavyweight Barolo or hundreds on a bottle of vintage Margaux. Consider the occasion, what you can afford to spend and who will be enjoying the wine with you.
We’ve focused on affordable and mid-range bottles for this roundup, all of which offer good value for money while being completely delicious.
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Vintage or non-vintage red wine?
Vintage wines, whereby the wine is made only from grapes of a single year’s harvest then often aged to perfection by the winemaker, cost more than non-vintage wine. Mixing vintages to create a non-vintage means that winemakers can usually produce a cheaper and more uniformly consistent flavour by balancing out any irregularities. If you find a non-vintage you enjoy, it will largely taste the same when you buy it year to year.
Wines that specify their year’s vintage can be more changeable due to weather conditions during the year of harvest – hence wine experts referring to certain wines as having ‘a good year’.
What styles of red wine are there?
The fun is all in the trying, but there are a few things to think about when seeking out your latest bottle.
Old World red wines generally come from traditional wine-growing regions – think Italy, Spain and France. These styles of wine include Pinot Noir and Sangiovese.
New World red wines refer to wine from everywhere else, but can also be produced in “Old World” regions. Some examples include Pinotage, Merlot and Malbec. Nowadays, both terms are used very broadly, so there is often some crossover.
If you can assess the colour in the bottle, then clear, bright, jewel tones are ideal for summer sipping. Meatier reds such as Merlot, Cab Sav, Syrah and older vintages generally have a deeper garnet colour with orangey ageing, and are best for cosying up with later in the year.
It’s a great time to experiment with natural wines, too, which can deliver surprising notes such as strawberry milkshake and sherbet.
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The best red wines to buy in 2022
1. Sharpham Pinot Noir 2019: Best English red wine
Price: £19 | Buy now from Sharpham Wine
We Brits are known for making crisp, elegant sparkling wines to rival Champagne. But did you know our cool climate and fertile soils, particularly in the South West, add up to the perfect growing conditions for some award-winning Pinot Noir too?
Sharpham Wine won several medals for its efforts at the Wine GB Awards in 2020, with this fabulously cool 2019 vintage Pinot Noir scooping the Gold. Ripe yet light, it offers classic British wild strawberry flavours, red berries and just a hint of spice that encapsulates the terroir of its South Devon vineyard.
This well-priced and well-structured Pinot Noir is easily up to international standards, and a product of Sharpham’s brand new, state-of-the-art winery, where it spent eight months ageing in French oak barrels. It makes for delicious drinking now, but will also improve with age.
Key details – ABV: 12%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Not stated
2. Zalze Shiraz Mourvedre Viognier 2019: Best budget red
Price: from £9 | Buy now from Waitrose Cellar
A consistent award winner and most notably a Decanter Award Bronze medallist, this lush and generous red is predominantly a spicy Western Cape Shiraz, with a dose of deeply fruited Mouvedre and some light, floral Viognier for a balanced profile.
Though not super complex, this wine is anything but dull, with powerful black and purple fruit flavours, tempered with a hint of French oak and vanilla. It has soft, supple tannins that make it a bottle you could drink anytime, and for this price, it’s hard to beat. At 14.5% it’s punchy, though, so watch out.
Key details – ABV: 14.5%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Yes
3. Kiss of Wine Wild Dolcetto: Best canned red wine
Price: £5 | Buy now from Kiss of Wine
Cast away any preconceptions you may have about canned wine. These picnic-ready cans from Kiss of Wine are a lightweight and eco-friendly way to enjoy a tipple or two from brilliant small-batch winemakers across Europe.
We love both the red varieties, but the 2019 Italian Dolcetto just pips it as the winner with its wildflower-heavy nose, thick with violets, which is followed by ripe berries and cherries. This fresh, fragrant wine is made by the renowned fourth-generation winemaker Corrado in Piedmont, who particularly loves Dolcetto and believes it deserves more recognition. Vegan and easily recyclable, it’s perfect straight from the cool bag with park pizzas.
Key details – ABV: 12%; Bottle size: 250ml; Vegan: Yes
4. Solar Wines Sangiovese Fresco 2020: Best natural red
Price: £29 | Buy now from Shop Cuvée
This Sangiovese might be a tad on the expensive side, but we promise it’s worth it. Fresco is a natural wine made from organic grapes using chemical-free farming, low intervention fermentation and winemaking methods. It has all the benefits (fun, interesting, energetic) and none of the downsides (farmyard funk) of the natural wine scene.
Made from 100% Sangiovese grapes grown on original roots in Australia’s Upper Yarra Valley, it’s left completely unfiltered. This process would often produce a cloudy wine, but this Sangiovese has the most beautiful, youthful clear garnet hue and it truly zings with lively redcurrant, blackberry and violet – an absolute triumph and an exciting first foray for anyone new to natural wines.
At 12.5% it’s more powerful than a lot of natural wines, but the freshness and bright character mean it’s very easy to drink.
Key details – ABV: 12.5%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Yes
5. Phillip Schofield Organic Nero Di Troia Puglia: Best red wine for a picnic
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
The wine industry continues to innovate when it comes to user- and planet-friendly packaging, and apparently, This Morning star and wine fan Phillip Schofield is at the forefront. This lovely organic Puglian red comes in an intelligent flat bottle made from 100% recyclable materials. It’s lightweight, too, which is good news for carbon footprints and your handbag alike.
Made by independent Italian winemakers, this wine is produced using Nero Di Troia grapes, which are popular in the Puglia region but little known further afield. It offers a super approachable and straightforward tasting experience, with bags of ripe fruit, a gentle dose of pepper and some pretty firm tannins. We found it to be like a “fruits of the forest” jam without the sweetness.
The makers recommend eating with juicy sausages and burgers to balance out the dryness, but we also enjoyed it with cheese, charcuterie and chutneys, which worked nicely with the acidity.
Key details – ABV: 12%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Not stated
6. CVNE Rioja Reserva 2016: Best red wine for a BBQ
Price: from £10 | Buy now from Majestic Wine
Every barbecue requires a solid red wine to stand up to all that flame-grilling. Enter the 2016 Rioja Reserva, a deliciously affordable red that’s ideal with your summer BBQ. CVNE is a family-run wine company established in 1879 and specialises in the wines of Northern Spain. The family pioneered the oak-ageing process for Rioja, thus transforming thin, young wine into the powerhouse of warmth and richness that good Rioja is known for today. Indeed, this bottle has all those qualities and more.
With fruit benefitting from months of Spanish sun and cool Atlantic breezes to prevent over-ripening, the 2016 Reserva is a tremendously soft and darkly savoury example of a grown-up Rioja. It’s packed with exotic vanilla spicing thanks to 18 months in French and American oak barrels, followed by a year of cellaring to mature into itself. It’s easily big enough to take on all manner of chargrilled meat, and it’s a great price, too.
Key details – ABV: 14%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Yes
7. Laylo Lot #3 Vino Rosso Vulcanico: Best boxed red
Price: £37 | Buy now from Laylo
By 2022 we should all be familiar with the fact that boxed wine is no longer naff. Transporting wine bottles carries a significant carbon footprint, the glass often cannot be recycled easily and wine simply doesn’t stay fresh once opened. Brands such as Laylo are doing good things with boxes by making sustainable and recyclable packaging for wines that stay box-fresh for six weeks.
This Sicilian number is its third creation and brings all the heat and passion of Sicily into a glass of spicy, earthy deliciousness just begging for a summer evening and bowl of pasta. A blend of Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese grapes from old vines grown on the slopes of Etna, this wine is a 13% firecracker bursting with star anise aromas and berries, only just constrained by its minerality and nice soft tannins.
Wait for the next balmy night, crack this open with some antipasti and let the compliments roll in. It’s a real people-pleasing box that certainly won’t last six weeks in our house.
Key details – ABV: 13%; Bottle size: 2.25l (3 bottles); Vegan: Yes
8. Coume del Mas Collioure Schistes 2018: Best fine wine
Price: £26 | Buy now from The Whisky Exchange
When you’re looking to push the boat out for a special occasion, fine wine is the order of the day, and this bottle from the Coume del Mas winery just screams special. You can always rely on France to deliver the goods, but instead of looking to the classic winemaking regions such as Burgundy and Bordeaux, why not try something off the beaten track?
Collioure is the unsung hero of French wine regions, and the wines from here are complex and powerful. This 100% Grenache comes from sun-soaked vines close to the sea and is unoaked, meaning it’s fresh, with tons of bright and lively fruit flavours. Think ripe strawberries and blackberries, plus a smattering of white pepper. Leave this wine to breathe, and it opens up further with some interesting herbaceous flavours.
It’s ideal for drinking now with someone you want to impress, or you can lay it down to age further.