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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

                        2. Although I have had a fair bit of success in matching red wine with fish, there are certain dishes that cry out for white wine. Shellfish with a crisp muscadet or sancerre for example. On a warm summer evening I am unlikely to want a full-on syrah, but I'm a happy man with a good bottle of white burgundy or a decent Italian fiano. I guess about 70% of the wine I drink is red, but I would be lost without that 30% of white.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Al Toon

                            >>I guess about 70% of the wine I drink is red, but I would be lost without that 30% of white.<<

                            I'm with you. In fact, throw in poster Monica's talk about rosé, and I'm probably about 60/40. I like all wines that taste good to me. I like all food that tastes good to me. I'd feel a huge void if I didn't enjoy the whole spectrum of wines, food, and life for that matter.

                          2. I usually prefer red over white too but on my recent trip to France, I noticed most French(south) drank rose over red or white. ..I wonder if this is because of temperature outside...maybe they drink more red in the winter?
                            Is rose wine under appreciated in America?
                            I don't really get a mood to drink white...If i want something refreshing, I usually go for Belgian beer.

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: Monica

                              When you say "refreshing" then what sorts of Belgian beer do you like?

                              1. re: Tripeler

                                leffe, chimay, kwak to name a few...

                              2. re: Monica

                                Rose is *totally* underappreciated in America, I think because rose became "cheap pink plonk that college girls like because it's syrupy sweet" somewhere along the line in the US. (Yes, I can say that, because I drank gallons of Sutter Home White Zin over the years until I saw the light).

                                French roses are dry and crisp, and I cannot imagine a warm summer afternoon in the backyard without a chilly French rose to accompany the meal. (They're not lightweight, by the way -- most French roses run 13-14%...a little dangerous on a hot day!)

                                And yes, Monica, red returns in the winter, along with daubes and pot au feu.

                                1. re: Monica

                                  rose is summer box wine in France.

                                  1. re: Chowrin


                                    It IS available in boxes, as is Bordeaux, Bourgogne, and a good number of other "upscale" appellations -- but roses in France are overwhelmingly consumed from a real glass bottle with an actual cork. In a real glass with a stem, no less.

                                    While there are some pretty respectable box wines, there are far more that are utter plonk and best avoided.

                                    1. re: Chowrin

                                      The French take their rosés very seriously. I think you might be mistaking the country (maybe US), the wine ("blush") and maybe even the decade (1980s-1990s). Personally, I truly enjoy rosé. It's a very versatile wine, a great choice for summer, and lends itself well with many foods. Throw in sparkling rosé and you can cover quite a wide range of wine-related situations. And considering that one could pay $40 for a nice French rosé from Bandol, and over $100 for a bottle of Taittinger sparkling rosé, I don't think those fall in the category of summer box wine.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Rosés can be extraordinary, and the French certainly do not consign them to the "boxed wine" aisle. Quite the contrary. If anything, this is an attitude current among American consumers who've never been exposed to good rosé.

                                        The Spaniards are no slouches either. One of my very favorite wines in the world is the Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Gran Reserva rosé (I have at least a half-case of 1998 left). It is, simply, spectacular. Extraordinarily complex and alive in the glass. Suitable for nearly any food or for drinking alone. And one of the great bargains of the wine world at around $28/bottle.

                                        1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                          Have you tried the 2000? Would this be a good pairing for a typical Thanksgiving diner?

                                          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                            Love just about anything Spanish. Finished off a few bottles of 2008 Muga rosé during the summer. Not the best but definitely not box wine.

                                    2. White wine experiences help drinkers understand red wines better. Both red and white are essential to each other. FWIW...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                        "Both red and white are essential to each other."

                                        I think I understand the sentiment, but the words aren't really explaining the point for me. If you mean that one can better understand wine, in general, if one experiences across the entire spectrum of grape varieties and blends, then I wouldn't disagree. I just don't know that I fully agree. I'm not sure I'd need white and red any more than I'd need every red variety in my experience to understand wine.

                                      2. Interesting. I don't know anyone who "only drinks red."

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          Good God, unfortunately I know too many.

                                        2. This thread reminds me of what Robert Mondavi Sr said, "White wine is only good for blotting up the red wine I spill on my tie"
                                          For the most part, I agree, with a few exceptions. Peter Michael chard comes to mind.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: Gail

                                            "For the most part, I agree"

                                            Your statement reminds me one of the most famous statements emanating from our past Secretary of Defense:

                                            "Charlie, the answer to the question is he alive or dead. The answer is yes, he is alive or dead."

                                            1. re: Gail

                                              that could be entirely related to the amount of oak that M. Mondavi puts in his whites. Being beaten about the head and shoulders with an oak bat is not the way I enjoy chardonnay, and unfortunately, California producers tend to deal the oak with a very, very heavy hand..

                                              I think "lack of exposure" is a lot of it...anybody who's been turned off by the thumping of oak in a California white can hopefully be convinced to try the buttery subtlety of a French chard...the mineral tang of a Pouilly Fuisse, or the light ambrosia that is Vouvray or Sancerre....there are fabulous whites out there..it's finding them that's the tough part.

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                as quoted in "easy wine.net
                                                "The best and most expensive Chardonnay wines are aged in oak barrels. This plays a large part in giving them their unique flavour. In an attempt to produce similar results at more reasonable price, many wineries attempt to duplicate the distinct flavor of Chardonnay grapes aged in oak barrels by soaking the wine oak chips. But, can anyone really produce an inexpensive Chardonnay wine without using oak barrels'

                                                I prefer a more natural approach to winemaking...................

                                                1. re: ospreycove

                                                  don't get me wrong -- I like oak barrels, and their resulting flavor contribution to a wine, red or white.

                                                  I don't, however, enjoy setting my glass down with the feeling I've been licking the barrel.

                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                  <there are fabulous whites out there..it's finding them that's the tough part.>


                                                  It's only tough if you aren't looking. IMHO, great white wines are all over the place.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    ...and your 3 top dry suggestions in the $30.-$40. range would be?

                                                    1. re: Gail

                                                      There are many recommendations of great white wine here on the Wine Board, especially in the two What are You Drinking? threads.

                                                      Many other threads on White Wines also. Check the postings by Chef June, Carswell, RicRios, invinotheresverde, Bill Hunt, among others.

                                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                                        Thanks ML, I try to keep up here, but have been lax lately. My husband is a collector, but mostly red. I hoped Chef June might have a couple of suggestions for white as I tried to narrow her down a bit, but perhaps that's not possible or redundant on this board as you suggest. Most whites we have enjoyed seem to be quite expensive, not Monday night wines. As, I mentioned above, Peter Michael chard...ahhhh.

                                                      2. re: Gail

                                                        My no. 1 rec: Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva blanco (about $42). I believe the 1990 is the current release, and it's phenomenal. As was the 1989. As, I suspect, so will be the 1991. These wines are widely distributed in the US - you should have no problem finding them.

                                                        The LdH Crianza blancos are also very, very good, and can be found for around $27. I believe the 2000 is the current release, and it is quite good.

                                                        And they make a helluva rosado, to boot.

                                                        1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                          Thanks, Ricardo. Something new to try. Will check my US sources for availability.

                                                          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                                                            Huh. I'm on a huge white kick lately (dating somebody who gets migraines from reds), which has been a fascinating study in which of my friends think white wines are for wimps when I'm picking a wine for the table.

                                                            That wine looks fascinating enough I might just get some on the way home!

                                                            Gail, try finding some purposefully oxidized whites from Jura--at the $30-40 end of the range, they're pretty delicious, and have a surprisingly wide range of flavors.

                                                            If I don't get that Lopez de Heredia, I'll be opening a Patricia Green Panama White.

                                                            1. re: SteveG

                                                              I have several bottles of the 1990 Vina Tondonia Reserva blanco left, and it's one of my favorite white wines (and certainly my favorite for the price). There's consistency from vintage to vintage - which is kind of an odd thing to say about a wine that seems to constantly transform itself in your glass - so I think you'll be just as pleased with the 1991. I also recommend having a glass without food, and then with food.

                                                              I'm not sure if this is within the topic of this thread, but I cannot recommend enough the Lopez de Heredia rosados. If you're a red-only drinker up to now, this might be a great gateway wine on your way to appreciating the immense pleasure of aged, complex white wines.

                                                  2. Watched two movies this weekend. We both remarked in the Italian movie, they drank white. In the German movie, they drank red....go figure.

                                                    1. I like the assertion in some book about wine traditions in wine-making regions. "They drink what they make, and find it good." If it tends to be red, they drink that; ditto for whites.

                                                      1. I'll confess to preferring red over white, and a big reason is that whites (other than CA chards) seem to have higher acidity. While I don't particularly like big, flabby jam-fests, the acidity of, say, a Cotes du Rhone adds a playful note, but a Chablis or Muscadet can really hit my stomach after anything more than a few sips. On the other hand, Alsatian whites seem balanced and I'm fine with those.

                                                        1. I was recently called the "p" word and the "f" word (gay slur) by a complete stranger at a restaurant bar for drinking white wine. So it's, according to this rude woman, unmanly for me to drink anything other than beer or maybe red wine in public.
                                                          Otherwise yes there is also this perception that one graduates from white to red wine. That red is more serious. Nothing could be further from the truth. What makes red wine appealing is more obvious than with white (tannins, dark fruit, leather, etc) but that doesn't make white wine less serious just a bit more difficult to fully appreciate and understand.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Chinon00

                                                            dear god...did you point out that she's an "a" word and a "b" word? What kind of excuse for a human being would call someone names in public for a drink choice?

                                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                                              Haha, hilarious. I bet ya she was just drunk.

                                                              1. re: Chinon00

                                                                It's amazing how stupid some people can be. Or was that some kind of twisted pickup line?

                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                  Reminds me a bit of that commercial where unmanly men are emasculated by the comely barkeep for failing to appreciate the great taste of Miller Lite or Bud or some other dishwater bilge that we drank in high school 'cause it was cheap and watery.

                                                                2. I used to be one of those people who basically only drank red wine. Then, in 2006, I spent a year in Germany and discovered the many white varietals (yes, I knew about Riesling before that year), and *really* got into white wines.

                                                                  Nowadays, I hardly ever drink red. I find white more refreshing at parties where water isn't always served along with the wine. Of course, I probably also end up drinking more wine that way....

                                                                  It's not that I dislike reds these days, I am just less interested. But that may well change again, who knows. 'specially with the cold months coming up, I can see myself with a nice big glass of Primitivo or such...

                                                                  1. While I don't proudly declare I drink only red, I do drink more red then white. Not because I like one over the other but because of my sensitivity to sulfites. Whites have more sulfites. Easy as that.

                                                                    1. I didn't start drinking wine until a few years back---mainly because I thought I hated it. I believe there are so many varieties of both red and white wines, that any palate would be satisfied if given a considerable chance to explore. Oftentimes, it takes research and advice to attain satisfaction, but certain food, mouth feel, complexities of the taste and flavor can all attribute to a like or dislike of a bottle.
                                                                      I feel as though it is similar to the effect of bias; such as the return of certain delicacies---haggis and various animal organs in the culinary industry.

                                                                      The only discrepancies between "types" of decent wine (that I find) are those such as white zin, coolers, boxed...

                                                                      With some effort, pleasure can be found in both red or white. And yes, while red is oftentimes promoted as a "healthy drink," who is to say that the same people aren't drinking half of the bottle?