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Oct 1, 2010 08:11 AM

Red Only Drinkers?

What's up with the "trend" of many wine drinkers proudly declaring they only drink red? Is it some kind of badge of honor, as though red wines are somehow superior to whites? I've been noticing this more and more lately, and frankly, it's mind boggling (and stupid, in my opinion, since so many food really pair better with white). It always seems like it's people who "know about wine" who fly the red only flag.

Does anyone know anybody like this, or, *gasp*, is guilty of it himself?

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  1. I know a few people people like that. One is an old Italian-American guy who has been drinking nothing but red -- and plenty of it -- for the last 60 years. My parents, also, in recent years have started buying only red. My theory about them is that they grew up in non-wine drinking families and started drinking wine themselves as young adults in the 70s. It was usually jug white with ice cubes. Switching to red as older adults could be a way of distancing themselves from that? Just a thought. My French in laws also drink red 90% of the time. Or champagne.

    1. I think it might have something to do with all the perceived *health benefits* of red wine vs. whites. I have a number of people come through my store who prefer reds to whites.
      It also doesn't help that many of the major critics are big red wine advocates, maybe because they prefer big, bold fruit & tannins?

      Now, I'm just a Geek who knows a little bit about wine and I prefer whites to reds. However, I'll drink most wines if they taste good. Kinda more into the more medium-weight stuff nowadays and would rather have something besides the *usual* Chardonnay or Cabernet.

      7 Replies
      1. re: BigWoodenSpoon

        Oh, you're right about the perceived health benefits. I know someone who will get a glass of red wine with lunch adding with a sheepish smile "For my arteries." -- as though that makes the cheeseburger "not stick."

        1. re: Glencora

          On the RED Side....Victor Hazan the oenophile and husband of Marcella Hazan wrote
          a book called "the Color of Wine is Red", in his lectures he starts out with "life is too short to drink White Wine". Just on person's opinion, but personally I tend to agree with him. especially in Vini Italiani, Italian wine consumers, by choice or what has been grown throughout the regions, are 95% red drinkers.

          1. re: ospreycove

            That's too bad, because there are quite a number of fascinating and delicious Italian white wines.

            I went through a period where I only wanted to drink red wine, so I understand that is one stop on the road of a person's wine journey. Some folks kinda get lost on that road.

            Personally, the weather, the menu and my mood tend to dictate whether I'm drinking/serving red or white. I

            1. re: ospreycove

              Victor Hazan is an eminent authority on Italian wine, and once wrote a legendary book on the subject, and of course Marcella is a legend in her own time. His attitude about red wine, however, is definitely an anomaly among wine experts, professionals, etc. I have been in the wine business for over a decade, and I have never met another wine professional or someone whom I would consider and expert who espouses a similar belief.

              Also, it is not as a rule true that Italians always drink more red. In many of the coastal regions, as well as in places such as Lazio, e.g., white is consumed more often than red.

          2. re: BigWoodenSpoon

            The health benefits of certain chemicals found in the skin of the grapes - which makes red wine red - is well documented. It is also known that red wines - tannic red wines in particular - are the best sources. This, combined with data suggesting that regular, moderate consumption of red wine may actually extend life has led many who may or may not like white and red to go "red only".

            IMO there is no reason not to drink red wine only if you don't particularly prefer a white to a red - might as well get the benefit if you're going to drink. Starting to drink wine for these benefits is perhaps a bit over the line, but I know I personally don't usually drink white wines that are not sparkling unless it was purchased by someone else (or I knew a guest preferred it). I've also grown to prefer reds after a while.

            I don't dislike white wines though - and moderate ethanol alcohol intake also has shown to improve some aspects of health, so technically white wine may benefit your health too (moderate alcohol intake improves lipoprotein metabolism). It's all about moderation, these benefits tend to not be worth it if you're drinking more than 1-3 "glasses" per day for red, maybe less for white wines.

            1. re: DukeOfSuffolk

              I've read that pinot noir grapes have more resveratrol than any other grape, in case it's of interest to anyone. I just plain like red wines more than white because I can usually find a good dry red wine easier than a good dry white, though, DARN IT, many reds are increasingly tasting sweet to me also, particularly American reds, and the accompanying higher ABVs which I dislike.

              1. re: Val

                What's a good dry white that you've found?

          3. An old thread in this board might provide a valid clue for this perceived "trend":

            "I suspect your friends who love red wine favor the structure, tannin, and complexity of red wine. And they're probably used to the tired, familiar American-style chardonnay that has become so popular -- big, buttery, oaky, flabby American chardonnay that takes like a stick of juicy fruit gum. No thanks. "


            "I think there is a difference between red wine drinkers who have been exposed to many different white wines and prefer reds, and those red wine drinkers who have tried a few insipid Chardonnay-in-a-box wines, but who have never really explored white wines in any significant way. I would say that a majority of "no-white-winers"are in the second category. If you expose them to something other than generic chardonnay, they will often be pleasantly surprised. So different varietals will intrigue them, as will different styles of chardonnay (like a Chablis). Well chosen less expensive whites still have a chance of making an impact. "


            13 Replies
            1. re: RicRios

              WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!!!!!

              I agree 100%. I find that most people who say they prefer red like a "bold" profile and think whites are, almost by definition, softer wines. I think that's true for the most part, but I can enjoy most any well-made balanced wine in the right context. Makes life a bit easier too.

              1. re: Midlife

                me, I love a sweet wine. I'm generally happier with red. or port.

              2. re: RicRios

                Nice job there, Ric. Informative post with good differentiation. I often find red-only drinkers simply haven't (recently) been exposed to stunning whites, or to great pairings with white wines.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  ML, I couldn't agree with you more. ;)

                2. re: RicRios

                  This is exactly it for me--one too many glasses of overly sweet chardonnay and I stopped drinking whites for a couple of years. But, I read a book about white wine and started exploring. And, even found some good not overly sweet chardonnay.

                  1. re: chowser

                    So sweet Chardonnay caused you to avoid white wine altogether? Why not try another white varietal first like Sauvignon Blanc or Trebbiano?

                    1. re: Chinon00

                      I did eventually. But, the other whites didn't have the tannins and taste I liked in red wine but I also learned to readjust what to appreciate about both. It's like being a red meat lover and learning to appreciate fish. You can't expect the same flavors but it can be just as good.

                    2. re: chowser

                      Interesting commengt I'd like to learn from. With a lot of wine terminology being rather personal I'd appreciate an idea of a few Chardonnays you find "sweet". With red wines I've found that some people describe a fruit-forward quality and a lack of tannins as being "sweet". There are Chards I find to be on the fruity side, but nothing I'd ever call sweet. How would you describe the 'sweetness' you find?

                      1. re: Midlife

                        Fruity and heavy, I guess. But, I'm describing it from a casual drinker perspective, not a wine connossieur (isn't that the right spelling? Why am I getting a spelling error on that?). Unlike a sauvignon/fume blanc which I find lighter. Oh, as examples go, it's been a long time but a go-to suburban wine that seemed sweet to me would have been White Tail chards (don't crucify me, I know it's not a good example but the one that sticks in my head because I came across it often). But, that was also a long time ago.

                        I don't normally post on this board because I don't have the appreciation/knowledge others here have for wine. I just wanted to add onto RicRios's comment because it fit me a few years ago. I didn't stick with red wines before out of pretentiousness but more out of ignorance. And, while experimenting is a great idea, it can get expensive, even with less expensive $10-15 bottles of wine.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Your spell checker is correct.

                          The fancy word has actually two spellings, depending on the user's view of the world: "connoisseur" (English), and also "connaisseur" ( it's French close cousin ), both derived from the Latin "cognoscere" ( to know ).

                          Regarding meaning, says the Merriam Webster: "one who enjoys with discrimination and appreciation of subtleties <a connoisseur of fine wines> "

                          For my personal consumption, I much rather prefer the more modest, and seldom used in these boards, Italian "dilettante". According to MW: " a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge : dabbler ". Which suits me to perfection.

                          1. re: RicRios

                            Thanks--I think that was my early morning dyslexia kicking in. I do like the term dilettante. It seems less pretentious, although I wouldn't even call myself that right now.

                          2. re: chowser

                            "Sweet" in this context might also mean "overripe" as many of us find California wines to be. Brix levels would be higher, of course, but the wine would also lack the counteracting acidity and minerality that comes from proper "physiological" ripeness (in "quotes" because I don't exactly understand the term).

                            I know that there are excellent Cali Chards, but I don't have the patience to look for them. I'd rather just go with a Chablis or Pouilly-Fuisse and the far higher likelihood of a chardonnay that I do like.

                            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                              Yes, you've pinpointed it perfectly--the chardonnays I had tried lack that acidity. I've found a couple of local Virginia vineyards that do a decent chardonnay, possibly because of the winters here but finding that they are more miss than hit, and hence haven't pursued them much. But, chardonnays seem to be the go-to wine at parties. I would far prefer a Pouilly-Fuisse.

                    3. I like both whites and reds, but actually drink more reds. Whites tend to be a hot-summer drink around here. I'm fully aware that whites pair better with certain dishes, including many of the vegetarian dishes are are my mainstay, but I still have a preference for red wines.

                      1. I have a few friends who only drink red, but they're certainly not snotty about it. If you put a glass of white in their hands, they might sip to be good guests, but good white wine is wasted on them. Whatever. Beating them up seems as useless as picking on my friends who only like 70% or over chocolate. I adore fine Swiss and German milk chocolate and would go for that every time. It's just a preference. We don't all need to be Our Best Food Geek Self at all times.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Vetter

                          Vet. right, to each their own: I just happen ot prefer Italian reds, especially the regional local production from cantine, (co-ops) as well as the more expensive single estate bottlings