Looking for some red wines to take with you to the table, not just sip at the bar? Few do these better than the winemakers of Europe, who through the centuries have worried less about a wine’s flavors than they do its structure. Wines lacking in acid and tannin tend to tire the palate, while that those who have both will generally refresh our taste buds.Additionally, wines that are jammy and have “gobs of fruit” often overpower the flavors of the food.
Here are some (almost entirely) European reds tasted recently that will make good to great table companions:
Mouton Cadet “Ryder Cup” Bordeaux Rouge NV ($15)
A promotional bottling that is tight, mildly tangy, savory, but not fruity — straight down the fairway, but short off the tee.
Château Carignan Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux 2009 ($17)
Very nice dark, savory flavors with notes of coffee and chocolate.
Château Tourril “Panatella” Minervois 2013 ($19)
Bright black raspberry flavors with good acidity and tannins.
Château Gigault “Cuvée Vira” Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux 2009 ($22)
Good savory fruitiness with dark, muddled cherries, a firm structure and a mild tannic grip.
Château Lilian Ladouys Saint Éstephe 2012 ($29)
Ripe fruit and good acidity, although perhaps it could be a bit, as the French say, “fresher” in its brightness. Also needs some time to open up.
Château la Croix Lartigue Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux 2010 ($33)
Lean, but long on the palate with nice cassis notes.
Feudo Zirtari Terre Sicilano Nero d’Avola/Syrah 2012 ($12)
A well-structured, warm and generous blend of traditional and international grapes, although the flavors of the two fight a bit with each other; tart notes with creamy raspberry.
Còlpetrone Montefalco Rosso 2011 ($15)
Tangy/sweet flavors of red berries with moderate tannins.
Lunelli “Ziggurat” Montefalco Rosso 2010 ($16)
Nice sangiovese profile — dried cherry flavors and lightly tannic with a closing raspiness.
Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico 2012 ($17)
Good fruitiness, if not much structure or length.
Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 ($19)
Light body, tart and lean with raspberry flavors.
Gracciano della Seta Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 2012 ($20)
Good texture — lean but light — but it could use more depth of flavors. That said, a veal scaloppine would go nicely with it.
Crociani Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2010 ($22)
A bit perfumed with soft fruit flavors backed by tart acidity and dusty tannins.
Antonelli Montefalco Rosso 2012 ($25)
From the land of the sagrantino, this rosso is a light, yet well-structured sangiovese with cherry and savory flavors that would go well with (sorry for the cultural mix) tapas.
Carpinetto Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 2010 ($26)
Lean, Bordeaux-like with flavors of matured barrels — a good food wine.
Caiarossa “Pergolaia” Toscano 2010 ($28)
Sangiovese accounts for 80 percent of this wine, with the rest being Bordeaux grapes. It is delicious — mellow, silken, yet complex — with ripe but not lush fruit.
Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2011 ($33)
Quite nice — good body with ripe, firm fruit and toasty barrel notes, a gamy finish, and lots of tannin.
Caiaroissa Toscano 2010 ($65)
One of the top super-Tuscans with very ripe, dark fruit, big but still lean, that has more of a luxurious homogenous profile than a complex one.
We have one lonely red from South Africa that is more European than New World in style, so we let it tag along for the ride:
Simonsig “Merindol” Stellenbosch Syrah 2012 ($44)
Dark and a little medicinal and tannic with a touch of typical syrah fruitiness to go with murky, savory notes.