Big Aussie Reds
We all know those burly blokes with meat hooks for hands who love a big, bold, muscular red wine. But, what is a ‘big’ red wine? Generally speaking these are wines that are from the heavier end of the red wine grape drinking spectrum and show loads of flavour, big oak presence and higher alcohol levels. And what does this mean?
Well, new oak barrels, when used to store new wines, imparts a variety of flavours and textures in a wine. French oak gives spice, cedar and grainy character where American oak can often lend vanillin and coconut flavours, sweet spice character and a slippery, almost oily texture. When used in larger quantities, oak can bolster and enhance the presence of wine in the mouth, making it feel ‘big’ and ‘full’ and ‘chunky’.
Ripeness is also a key factor. During a warm harvest, grapes get their sugar levels up. When the red wine is made ripeness can lend an additional texture or ‘thickness’ to a wine. This makes the wine feel ‘bigger’ too.
Alcohol levels play their part. With higher alcohol comes more richness, the potential for oily texture and a big, muscular mouth feel. Alcohol raises the perceived sweetness levels too.
So here is the recipe for those bigger reds. Sure, they don't suit everyone, but they certainly have their place in the spectrum of red wine. They don't go too badly during Winter, laying on a sheep skin rug, by the fire, with someone you fancy just a bit too…
Warmer regions generally produce ‘bigger’ reds so look out for wines from:
But of course style can always vary…