High-quality dry red wine is considered by many wine enthusiasts to be the pinnacle of winemaking. While sparkling, sweet, and white wines are all fantastic in their own right, dry reds are looked at as the most “serious” and important wines in the entire world.
Famous French wine regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy set the early standard for high-quality dry red wine, as well as Italian regions like Tuscany. New world wine countries like Australia and the United States have continued the tradition of top-shelf dry red wine brands, and quality red wine is now available all over the world.
We will break down what goes into the best dry red wine brands and recommend five for you to check out.
Dry Red Wine Overview
Dry red wine is the most popular style of winemaking in the entire world, and there are many different grape varietals used to produce the beverage.
There are a wide variety of countries producing this popular style of wine, with a handful of them being most important today.
Dry vs Sweet Wine
The amount of sweetness in a bottle of wine refers both to the amount of residual sugar contained in the wine, as well as the perceived sweetness of the taste. Perceived sweetness can be different from residual sugar content due to factors like acidity and tannin strength.
Residual sugar is the amount of sugar that is left in the wine after fermentation. This is mostly determined by the varietal and sugar content of the grapes being used, which is higher in warmer weather wine-growing regions.
Some winemakers choose to add sugar to wine after it is fermented, but this is usually only reserved for lower-quality bottles and dessert wines.
Top wine publication Wine Folly has developed a helpful reference chart to determine general wine sweetness.
French Dry Red Wine
France is considered by many to be the homeland of high-quality dry red wine. Some of the world’s most prominent dry red wine varietals hail from France, including the world’s most popular wine grape, Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Bordeaux region is home to many of the world’s first famous red wine brands, and the First Growths of Bordeaux are still considered to be among the best wines in the entire world today. It is not uncommon for bottles from this region to sell for over $10,000 at auction.
Burgundy is another famous and historic French wine region that produces coveted dry red wines. Pinot Noir is the most important grape in the Burgundy region, and many wine enthusiasts praise these delicate dry reds for their finesse and complexity.
Italian Dry Red Wine
Italy is another extremely important wine country with a deep-rooted history in the world of wine. The Roman empire was very important in terms of the development and distribution of quality wine all over the world.
Sangiovese is the most prevalent wine grape in all of Italy, and it is used to produce well-balanced and age-worthy bottles of dry red wine such as Chianti. Dry red blends have also become increasingly important in Italy over the past few decades.
The Super Tuscan blend took the world by storm in the 1970s and has become increasingly popular in subsequent years. These bold dry reds are well known for being strong and complex and are best suited for palates that enjoy the wines of Bordeaux.
American Dry Red Wine
While it is a relatively young country, the United States has become an important producer of wine over the past few decades, and American dry red wine is enjoyed all over the world today. The majority of American wine comes from California, Oregon, and Washington.
The state of California is best known for its production of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. Many different producers have made bottles of California Cabernet Sauvignon that have gained both critical acclaim and a loyal following. These are often referred to as “Cult California Cabernets.”
The growing conditions are a bit cooler further north in the winegrowing states of Oregon and Washington, and the Pinot Noir grape tribes in the cool weather. Some of the most famous bottles of Oregon Pinot Noir hail from the iconic Willamette Valley.
Australian Dry Red Wine
Australia is another new world wine-producing country that has flourished in the production of high-quality dry red wines. The most popular style of Australian wine uses the French Syrah grape, which is referred to as “Shiraz” when made in Australia.
Shiraz thrives in the country of Australia due to the warmer growing conditions. The wines produced here are known to be “big and bold,” and Australian Shiraz is known to carry distinct tasting totes like ground black pepper.
Shiraz from Australia is produced country-wide but is most famously grown in the Barossa Valley where wines tend to be deep in pigment and strong in flavor. There is also a fairly high alcohol content associated with Barossa Shiraz, making it an overall strong wine.
Five of the World’s Best Dry Red Wine Brands
There are thousands of different brands producing dry red wine today from all over the world. While it would be impossible to include all the best options on one cohesive list, there are five brands from five of the world’s most important wine countries that are particularly important.
1. Château Lafite Rothschild
- Extremely famous and well regarded by wine critics
- Enjoyed by kings and royalty throughout history
- Signature Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes
- Out of the price range of many wine enthusiasts
- Difficult to find outside of auctions and fine dining establishments
Château Lafite Rothschild is one of the original First Growths of Bordeaux and is one of the most famous bottles of wine in the entire world. Certain vintages are more highly regarded than others, but all are considered to be of supremely high quality.
2. Domaine de la Romanée-Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole
- Very well-known and highly regarded bottle of wine
- Available at some of the top restaurants in the world
- Well received by some of the world’s top wine critics
- Very expensive bottle that costs thousands of dollars
- Inaccessible to the average wine enthusiast
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti is one of the most famous and highly regarded producers of wine in the entire world. The producer specializes in a variety of different wine styles, and “La Tache” is one of the most well-known representations of quality Pinot Noir worldwide.
3. Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri
- Very famous and highly regarded bottle
- Unique blend of French grapes produced in Italy
- Extremely popular and widely distributed
- Fairly expensive, though not as high priced as top French wine
- Too strong and bold for some pallets
Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri, most often referred to simply as “Sassicaia,” has risen to fame over the last few decades while making the Super Tuscan blend well known all over the world. This dry red blend is powerful and strong, making it a great “steakhouse wine.”
4. Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon
- One of the top New World red wines
- Strong and bold red wine typical of California
- Oak aged to develop complexity of flavor
- One of the most expensive California wines
- California style of Cabernet Sauvignon too strong for some
Opus One is arguably the most famous bottle of American wine and was one of the first “Cult California Cabernets” to develop a large and loyal following. Each vintage sells out very quickly, and many dedicated customers order the same amount every year from the producer.
5. Penfolds Grange Bin 95
- One of the most famous bottles of wine from Australia
- Strong and bold representation of Australian Shiraz
- Available at some of the top restaurants all over the world
- Too expensive for some wine enthusiasts
- Bold and strong flavors not suited for fans of delicate red wines
Penfolds Grange Bin 95 is a world-famous bottle of Australian Shiraz that has gained acclaim from wine critics and enthusiasts all over the world.
This bottle of wine is consistently rated in the Top 100 by Wine Spectator and has secured a number of international wine awards.
Dry Red Wine Brands – Final Thoughts
Dry red wine is the single most important style in the world of wine and is the gold standard for many wine enthusiasts.
Some of the world’s top wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, The United States, and Australia all specialize in different styles of dry red wine, each with its own unique characteristics and taste profiles.