National Red Wine Day: Exploring Red Wine, Its History, Red Wine Spirits, & Cocktails to Mix Up

Did you know that there is a holiday dedicated to red wine? In honor of National Red Wine Day we’re going to dive into the world of red wine, covering its production, history, and even its unique role in cocktails. We’ll answer common questions like “how is red wine made,” “what is the history of red wine,” and “what spirits are made from red wine.” So, whether you’re a seasoned sommelier or a curious newcomer, let’s raise a glass of red and learn about the rich, diverse nature of red wine.

What Is Red Wine, and What Sets It Apart?

Red wine is a type of alcoholic beverage that is crafted from dark-colored grape varieties. It derives its distinct color, flavor, and aroma from the skins of the grapes, which are left in contact with the juice during the fermentation process. This extended contact allows the skins to infuse the wine with their pigments and compounds, resulting in the various shades of red, from deep garnet to vibrant crimson.

Red wine is known for its complexity and diversity of flavors, which can range from fruity to earthy, and spicy to tannic. It is often categorized by the grape variety used, the region of production, and the aging process. The fermentation of red wine involves the conversion of sugars in the grape juice into alcohol through the action of yeast. This process is followed by maturation in barrels, which further develops the wine’s character and depth. We’ll cover that in more depth later on.

Red wine is enjoyed for its ability to complement a wide range of foods, making it a staple at dining tables and social gatherings. From light and elegant Pinot Noir to bold and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, red wine offers a broad spectrum of flavors to satisfy diverse palates.

What Is the History of Red Wine?

The history of red wine dates back thousands of years, intertwining with the emergence of winemaking itself. Ancient civilizations, from the Egyptians and Phoenicians to the Greeks and Romans, played pivotal roles in cultivating grapevines and developing techniques to ferment and preserve grape juice

The practice of using red grapes and allowing their skins to macerate with the juice led to the creation of the richly colored and flavorful red wines we know today. Throughout history, red wine became intertwined with cultural and religious practices, symbolizing everything from celebration to sacrament. 

As viticulture and winemaking techniques spread across the Mediterranean and beyond, red wine’s influence extended to Europe and eventually to the New World, evolving into the diverse range of varieties and styles enjoyed worldwide.

To learn more about the history of red wine, check out “The History of Wine” on Wikipedia.

When Is National Red Wine Day?

National Red Wine Day falls on August 28th each year. It’s a day dedicated to celebrating the rich and diverse world of red wine, appreciating its flavors, history, and cultural significance. National Red Wine Day offers the perfect opportunity to raise a glass and savor the beauty of this timeless beverage.

What Are the Different Types of Red Wine?

As we mentioned, red wine encompasses a diverse array of varieties, each with its unique characteristics, flavors, and origins. Here are some of the prominent types of red wine:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon: This is one of the most recognized red wine varieties. It often displays deep color, rich tannins, and flavors of dark fruits like blackcurrant. Cabernet Sauvignon wines can age gracefully and are known for their complexity.
  • Merlot: Known for its approachability, Merlot offers softer tannins and a range of flavors from plums to cherries. It’s often used in blends to add smoothness and depth.
  • Pinot Noir: Revered for its elegance and finesse, Pinot Noir wines exhibit red fruit flavors, such as cherry and raspberry. They tend to be lighter in body and have a delicate aroma.
  • Syrah/Shiraz: Depending on where it’s grown, this grape can produce wines with varying characteristics. Syrah wines are known for their bold flavors of dark fruits and peppery notes, while Shiraz from Australia often showcases ripe fruit and spiciness.
  • Zinfandel: Notable for its rich and jammy flavors, Zinfandel can range from medium to full-bodied. It’s often associated with American winemaking and is known for its versatility.
  • Malbec: Originally from France, Malbec found a second home in Argentina. It typically offers dark fruit flavors like plum and blackberry, along with a smooth mouthfeel.
  • Sangiovese: The primary grape in Chianti wines, Sangiovese boasts flavors of sour cherry, dried herbs, and sometimes earthiness. It’s a key player in Italian winemaking.
  • Nebbiolo: This grape is responsible for some of Italy’s most iconic wines, such as Barolo and Barbaresco. Nebbiolo wines are often high in tannins and showcase flavors of red fruit and rose petals.
  • Grenache: Known for its fruity and spicy character, Grenache is frequently used in blends, particularly in the Southern Rhône region of France and in Spain.
  • Petite Sirah/Durif: Despite its name, Petite Sirah produces bold and robust wines with dark fruit flavors and considerable tannins.

These are just a few examples of the diverse world of red wine. Each type has its own regional origins, grape characteristics, and aging potential. Exploring the different varieties can provide a captivating journey into the world of wine. Additionally, each red wine can create a slightly different spirit, when distilled. Understanding red wine will help you understand the spirits they create, too!

Is Red Wine a Spirit?

Red wine is not classified as a spirit. Spirits, also known as distilled beverages or hard liquors, are alcoholic beverages that are created through the distillation process, which involves heating a fermented liquid to separate alcohol from the rest of the mixture. This results in a higher alcohol content compared to regular wines.

Red wine, on the other hand, is a type of fermented beverage. Red wine typically has an alcohol content that ranges from around 12% to 15%, although this can vary depending on the specific wine and winemaking techniques used.

So, Why Is Discussing Red Wine Important to Distillery Enthusiasts?

Spirits that are derived from wine, including red wine, do exist! Brandy is a notable example. Brandy is a spirit made by distilling wine, resulting in a higher alcohol content and concentrated flavors. It’s aged in wooden casks, which further develops its characteristics. However, while brandy is derived from wine, it is distinct from red wine itself.

Understanding the base spirit, if you want to get into brandy and other wine distillates, is incredibly important!

What Spirits Are Made from Red Wines?

There are many different spirits that are distilled from red wines, some of which might surprise you! Oftentimes, these spirits are distilled from the leftovers from winemaking, making for an even more interesting final beverage. Let’s take a look at all of the spirits that can be made from the delicious red wine:

  • Brandy: Brandy is one of the most well-known spirits made from wine. It is created by distilling wine, which increases its alcohol content and concentrates its flavors. Different types of brandy are produced around the world, with Cognac and Armagnac being notable examples from France. Brandy can also be made from red wine, resulting in a spirit with a rich and complex profile.
  • Red Wine Grappa: Grappa is a traditional Italian spirit made by distilling the pomace (skins, seeds, and stems) left over from winemaking. While grappa is often made from white wine grape pomace, some versions are crafted using red wine grape pomace, resulting in a spirit with robust flavors.
  • Marc: Similar to grappa, marc is a type of brandy produced by distilling grape pomace. It’s made in various wine-producing regions, including France, Italy, and Switzerland. Like grappa, marc can also be made from the pomace of red wine grapes.
  • Pisco: Pisco is a South American spirit produced primarily in Peru and Chile. It can be made from a variety of grape types, including some red wine grapes. Pisco is typically not aged, resulting in a clear spirit with fruity and floral notes.
  • Rakia: Rakia is a fruit brandy commonly consumed in Balkan countries. While it’s often associated with distilled fruits, including plums and apricots, it can also be made from red wine, producing a unique and diverse range of flavors.
  • Törkölypálinka: This Hungarian spirit is crafted from grape marc, similar to grappa. While it’s often associated with white wine grapes, some versions of törkölypálinka are made from the pomace of red wine grapes, contributing to its distinctive character.
  • Aguardiente: Found in several Latin American countries, aguardiente is a strong spirit produced by distilling fermented sugarcane juice or molasses. However, in some regions, it can be made from wine, including red wine, and is often enjoyed as a traditional spirit.
  • Zivania: Zivania is a Cypriot spirit made from the distillation of grape pomace. It’s a traditional beverage with variations that can include the use of red wine grape pomace.
  • Schnapps: While schnapps can be made from various fruits, including berries and stone fruits, some versions are crafted using red wine. Schnapps is produced in many European countries and can offer diverse flavor profiles.

Red Wine Cocktails to Celebrate National Red Wine Day With

If you’re looking for some delicious cocktails to mix up in celebration of National Red Wine Day, you’re in luck. Here are three to try, but don’t forget to sip on a regular old glass of red wine, too!

Red Wine Cocktail #1: The Classic Sangria

This is a delicious option for if you’re having guests over to celebrate National Red Wine Day with you! The Sangria is a beloved red wine cocktail that originated in Spain. It’s known for its refreshing blend of flavors and is often enjoyed during warm weather gatherings.

To make a pitcher of Sangria, combine one bottle of red wine with ¼ cup brandy, ¼ cup orange liqueur, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add one sliced orange, one sliced lemon, one sliced lime, and one cored and sliced apple to the pitcher. Refrigerate the pitcher mixture for at least two hours, then add lemon-lime soda just before serving. Stir gently and serve over ice, ensuring everyone gets some fruit!

Red Wine Cocktail #2: The Red Wine Spritzer

A red wine spritzer offers a lighter take on red wine, perfect for a casual and refreshing drink.

  1. Fill a glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in 4 oz red wine.
  3. Top with 2 oz club soda or sparkling water.
  4. Gently stir to combine.
  5. Garnish with an orange or lemon twist.

Red Wine Cocktail #3: The Blackberry Red Wine Smash

If you love berries, this one’s for you. This cocktail adds a delightful burst of fruity flavors to red wine, creating a very vibrant and aromatic drink.

  1. In a shaker, muddle 5 blackberries until they release their juices.
  2. Add 2 oz red wine, 1 oz blackberry liqueur, and ½ oz fresh lemon juice to the shaker.
  3. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well to chill and combine the ingredients.
  4. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice.
  5. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Brandy Cocktails to Celebrate National Red Wine Day With

Keep in mind that brandy is a red wine distillate, so we can use that in cocktails to celebrate, too! You might have noticed that the Sangria uses brandy, so we won’t list that here. As you sip these cocktails, see what red wine notes you can pick out!

Brandy Cocktail #1: The Brandy Alexander

A classic cocktail with a rich and indulgent flavor profile, the Brandy Alexander combines brandy with cream and a touch of sweetness. It’s a delightful after-dinner drink that exudes elegance.

  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Add 1 ½ oz brandy, 1 oz dark crème de cacao, and 1 oz heavy cream to the shaker.
  3. Shake well until chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg on top.

Brandy Cocktail #2: The Sidecar

The Sidecar is a classic sour cocktail that balances the flavors of brandy, citrus, and a touch of sweetness. It’s a timeless cocktail that offers a refreshing and tangy experience.

  1. Rim the edge of a cocktail glass with sugar (optional).
  2. Fill a shaker with ice.
  3. Add 2 oz brandy, 1 oz triple sec, and ¾ oz fresh lemon juice to the shaker.
  4. Shake well until chilled.
  5. Strain the mixture into the prepared cocktail glass.
  6. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Brandy Cocktail #3: The Brandy Sour

A Brandy Sour is a simple yet flavorful cocktail that combines the warmth of brandy with the zing of citrus and a hint of sweetness. It’s a versatile drink that can be enjoyed year-round.

  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Add 2 oz brandy, ¾ oz fresh lemon juice, and ½ oz simple syrup to the shaker.
  3. Shake well until chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Add a few dashes (3-4) of Angostura bitters on top.
  6. Garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry.

Find Local Brandy, Grappa, & Schnapps at Distillery Nearby

Elevate your National Red Wine Day celebrations by exploring the world of spirits derived from red wine. Brandy, Grappa, and Schnapps offer a captivating twist on the familiar, originating from the rich heritage of red grapes. Discover these exquisite spirits at a local distillery near you, where they transform red wine into unique and flavorful spirits. Our “by-state” directory makes it easy to locate distilleries in your area.

Happy National Red Wine Day!

Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.