Those who know me can attest to how much I love spice. I like experimenting with new spices at home and trying new flavors in restaurants. But my absolute favorite things are spicy. The spicier the better.
At the same time, I hate it when people try to make things spicy for the sake of being spicy. Make it heavy on the flavour, too!
When I discovered that wine could be spicy, too, I knew I had found my new favourite thing. I love peppery red wines. They have all the spice I crave with a depth of flavour that makes them even more enjoyable.
There are a few different types of grapes that tend to produce wines with a strong pepper flavour. Syrah and Grenache are two of the most common, but there are also many blends that include these grapes.
The Top Peppery Red Wine Brands
- Château La Nerthe
- Secondo Marco
- Turley Wine Cellars
- Casa Brancaia
- Greenock Creek
- Bodegas Castro Martin
Some of my favourite peppery red wines come from the Rhône Valley in France. This region is known for its strong, spicy wines. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a particularly famous wine from this area, and it definitely lives up to its reputation. If you’re looking for peppery wine, this is a great place to start.
Château La Nerthe makes a Grenache-based Châteauneuf-du-Pape that is both sweet and savory. It has all the spice of a traditional Châteauneuf-du-Pape, with an added layer of fruitiness. I might even call it racy and enchanting. I simply can’t get enough of it.
This winery dates back to the 1500s, but these days, they put forth a modern label with a traditional feel and an exceptional guided tour and tasting experience. Château La Nerthe has always been a family-owned business, but the families have changed over the years.
Most recently, the Richards family purchased the grounds and it underwent massive renovations. The new production cellar was even featured in the Architectural Digest.
Ever since, the vineyards have been cultivated with organic methods and contains Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. There are a total of 13 varietals that have been adapted to the soil to bring out the most pure expressions of flavour.
Amarone is another wine from the Rhône Valley that definitely has a strong pepper flavour. This w ine is made from a blend of different grapes, including Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. The grapes are dried before they’re fermented, which concentrates the flavours and makes the wine more intense.
Secondo Marco is one of the world’s leading producers of Amarone della Valpolicella. This particular wine is made from a blend of 90% Corvina, 5% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara grapes.
It has a deep ruby colour and aromas of black pepper, cloves, and dark fruits. The flavour is full-bodied with a long, spicy finish. If you’re looking for a truly peppery wine, this is it.
Zinfandel is a type of grape that’s commonly used in California wines. These wines tend to be quite fruit-forward, but there are also some excellent examples that have a strong pepper flavour. Peppery Zinfandels are usually made from old vines, which produce grapes with more intense flavours.
A great example of a spicy Zinfandel comes from the Turley Wine Cellars. This wine is made from grapes that are more than 100 years old! You can see from the picture that these Old World Zinfandel vines are healthy, producing grapes of exceptional quality.
The wine has a deep purple colour and aromas of black pepper, dark fruits, and spice. The flavour is rich and concentrated, with a long, peppery finish. If you’re looking for a California wine with a strong pepper flavour, this is what I would try first.
Barbera is a grape that’s commonly found in Italy. Wines made from Barbera tend to be lighter in body, but they can still have a lot of flavour. Many Barberas have a strong pepper flavour, making them a good choice if you’re looking for a lighter-bodied peppery wine.
Ottosoldi makes some of the most affordable Barbera wines you can buy. In fact, their 2017 vintage is roughly $17 but it tastes like a $50 bottle, which means you’re getting a great value.
Notes of pepper and spice dance around your nose while lingering flavours of dark fruit and chocolate coat your tongue. It has a gorgeous ruby red colour with a fine perfume of vanilla and mint. The full flavour is soft and rich, but you’ll enjoy a final note of fruit as well.
Chianti Classico is one of the most well-known wines from Italy. This wine is made from a blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes, and it often has a strong pepper flavour. The Riserva designation means that the wine has been aged for a minimum of 24 months, which concentrates the flavours and makes the wine more intense.
Casa Brancaia produces some of the best Chianti Classico wines you can buy. Their Riserva is made from a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo grapes. It has a deep ruby colour and aromas of black pepper, tobacco, and dark fruits. The flavour is full-bodied and well-balanced, with a long, peppery finish.
Vacationing in Tuscany should include a visit to Casa Brancaia and its gorgeous vineyards. Not only will you be able to taste some of their delicious wines and see how they’re made, but you can stay on the grounds. The manor features spacious apartments with indoor/outdoor living spaces, modern kitchens, an idyllic swimming pool, and table tennis. There are also plenty of walking, hiking, and biking paths.
Syrah is one of the most common grapes used in peppery red wines. This grape is originally from the Rhône Valley, but it’s now grown all over the world. Wines made from Syrah tend to be full-bodied with a lot of flavour.
Greenock Creek is nestled in the Barossa Valley of Australia, which is one of the most ideal places to grow Syrah grapes. The climate is warm and dry, which concentrates the flavours in the grape.
This particular winery specializes in Shiraz (which is what those from down under call Syrah) and they produce 10 different Shiraz wines. Each has a unique flavour profile but all of them are packed with pepper. This Shiraz collection embodies the vast terroir and complex beauty of this particular winery. Their bottles are affordable, so this is a great way to immerse yourself in the world of spicy wine.
7. Bodegas Castro Martin
Grenache is another grape that’s often used in peppery red wines. This grape is originally from Spain, but it’s now grown all over the world. Wines made from Grenache tend to be light-bodied with a lot of flavour.
My personal favourite Grenache is from a winery in Spain called Bodegas Esteban Martin. The vineyards are located in the Ebro Valley, which is settled in the Iberian System mountain range and part of the Cariñena Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) region.
While they offer plenty of bottles of Granacha from which you can choose, my personal favourite is the Esteban Martin 12 months because of the smooth and ripe palate, balanced mouthfeel, and finer tannins than in most other red wines. It also has an interesting mix of both pepper and nutty flavours.
The intense ruby colour has a unique orange rim and smells of blueberries, caramel, chocolate, and tobacco. As an added bonus, this wine is also vegan-friendly.