Wine Guide

Red & Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine

How do I buy a wine when I don’t know what it tastes like? Refer to the guide below to discover what wines have dominant red fruit flavors vs. dark fruit flavors. For example a Pinot Noir often has cherry flavors and a Cabernet Sauvignon often tastes like black currants.

Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine

Red Fruit Flavors in Wine Varieties


Gamay is better known as Beaujoulais. Most Beaujoulais are meant to be drunk within the year after they are produced and are light cherry with sometimes a banana-like flavor. There are finer, more age-worthy Beaujoulais referred to as “cru Beaujoulais,” and these wines often have raspberry aromas and a green stem bitterness. Tart CherryRaspberry

Pinot Noir

When Pinot Noir has a cranberry flavor profile it is from a cooler climate such as Oregon, Marlborough, New Zealand, or Burgundy, France. Cherry is the most common flavor found in Pinot Noir, ranging from red to black cherry. Dark cherry wines indicate a warmer region such as Sonoma, CA; Central Coast, CA; Central Otago, New Zealand; Warm vintages in Oregon and Patagonia, and Argentina. Strawberry aromas are a characteristic often found in New Zealand Pinot Noir. When a Pinot Noir has raspberry flavors and it’s from America, this often means the wine was blended with some Syrah to add extra body. CranberryCherryStrawberryRaspberry

St. Laurent

Widely grown in Czech Republic and Austria, St. Laurent wine is from the same family as Pinot Noir. CranberryCherryRaspberry


This is an Austrian red wine cross between St. Laurent and Gamay. Typically it will have tart cranberry flavors along with a peppery note. CranberryTart Cherry

Lemberger (Blaufränkisch)

Similar in flavor to Carménère with a pronounced spiciness and more tannin than Zwiegelt, this wine can be found grown in America, particularly in Washington State and New York. Because of this, Lemberger will start to become more popular in America. CherryRaspberry


Grenache can range in flavor greatly depending on where it’s grown. American Grenache often takes on strawberry and jam flavors. StrawberryRaspberryJam


Red Cherry


Tempranillo is a Spanish grape used in Rioja. These wines can range from a light Crianza with more cherry notes to a rich dark Grande Reserve, which sometimes even exhibits blueberry flavors because of extended time aging in oak. Red CherryRaspberryBlueberry


From northern Italy, Barbera has a much more pale color and notes of cherry and unripe raspberry. From the US, Barbera is more jam-like with ripe raspberry flavors. CherryRaspberryJam


The primary grape in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Italy. This wine also has intense smokiness and big tannins, as well as dark red fruits. Black Cherry


Sangiovese comes from Italy and is grown all over. Traditionally, when it’s from Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino, it has a smokiness with dried cherry or strawberry flavors. When grown in the US, it has little to no smokiness and fresh strawberry and jam-like flavors. Red CherryStrawberryJam


Nebbiolo from northern Italy has very big tannins and is the grape in Barolo and Barbaresco. When it is made under the “Langhe” designation, it has much lighter flavors that remind me more of Pinot Noir (although still with stronger tannins). Tart CherryStrawberryRaspberry


Merlot in its lightest stages tastes of cherry and plum. However, many winemakers in America and France are making very rich styled Merlots with extended oak aging that take on much darker fruit character and are hard to distinguish from Cabernet Sauvignon. PlumBlack CherryJam


Lambrusco is a grape often used and is a pale red sparkling wine from Lambrusco Italy. Currently Lambrusco is growing in popularity because of its light and refreshing character. Many Lambrusco wines are slightly sweet, although many higher end Lambrusco makers are making dry-style wines. StrawberryRaspberry


America’s darling, Zinfandel is actually of Croatian origin. Regardless, America has some of the largest plantings of Zinfandel which range from a lighter style (with about 13.5% alcohol) which exhibits strawberry flavors, to a rich and high alcohol style tasting wine with flavors more like raspberries (and mocha!) StrawberryRaspberryJam


Primitivo is very similar to Zinfandel in many characteristics, but typically is made with less alcohol. It is light, with earthy clay-like notes and strawberry flavors. StrawberryRaspberryJam

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc from France often has stronger notes of bell pepper and black pepper than red berry fruit. Cabernet Franc from the US has more cherry notes as well as hints of bell pepper and sometimes, when grown in California, it has a very jam-like character. Black CherryJam

Corvina (Amarone & Valpolicella)

Corvina is one of three grapes that make up Amarone. Amarone is known for its dried strawberry notes along with dried fruit aromas. Strawberry


This grape is typically found in blends from the Cotes du Rhone. The grape is becoming more widely planted and more popular in the US both in Washington State and California as of late. Besides the red cherry flavor, it also has a meaty character flavor reminiscent of salami. CherryRaspberry

Dark Fruit Flavors in Wine Varieties

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon has a wide range of fruit flavors from raspberry (in cooler climates such as Washington State) to blackberry (from hot climates such as California). The unique flavors in Cabernet Sauvignon are green bell pepper, black pepper with big tannins and tobacco notes. RaspberryPlumBlack CurrantBlackberry


Malbec can be lighter with less oak usage in the value range, giving it more black cherry flavors. As it is exposed to more time in oak though, it develops a candied blueberry note. BlueberrySugar Plum


Mouvedre creates a very dark wine that has blueberry and rich earthy tar-like notes. BlueberryBlackberryPlum

Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah produces wines with high tannins that are very inky. Often having a slight peppery note, Petite Sirah are commonly found in blends where added intensity is desired. PlumBlueberryBlackberry

Nero d’Avola

Traditional style Nero d’Avola (Sicily’s champion red grape) is earthy with dried fruit aromas such as raisins and figs. More and more winemakers in Sicily are experimenting with different winemaking techniques and Nero d’Avola is becoming smoother with more blackberry and spice characteristics. PlumBlack CurrantBlackberry

Syrah / Shiraz

Syrah/Shiraz has a wide range of flavors. In France, it almost takes on a black olive characteristic; whereas in Australia–where Syrah is called Shiraz–it tastes more of blackberry. BlueberryBlackberry

Touriga Nacional

Dark and rustic, this grape is a dominant variety found in Port (Portugal). As a dry wine, it is earthy and rustic, often exhibiting blackberry flavors. Black CurrantBlackberry


Bonarda is often used as a blending grape in Argentina with Malbec. It’s darker in color than Malbec and adds tannic structure and earthiness. Blackberry

Petite Verdot

Petite Verdot is very rarely offered as a single varietal wine. It is opaque with big tannins and when grown in France it smells earthy like tar. In America and Australia, Petite Verdot is much more fruity and smells like violets and blueberries. PlumBlueberry


Dolcetto is a high acid grape that exhibits blackberry aromas and typically has very tart flavors. It is one the the lightest dark fruit flavored wines and has bitterness on the finish. Blackberry


This is a very tannic wine that needs about 10 years of aging to taste more of the rich black currant and blackberry flavors comprising the grapes. Black CurrantBlackberry

First published On:Wine Folly