The 8 Best Light-Bodied Red Wines

The 8 Best Light-Bodied Red Wines: Light-bodied red wines are ideal for those who find white wines too light and full-bodied reds too heavy. They are typically lower in tannins and alcohol content, making them easy to drink and great for a variety of occasions.

1. Pinot Noir: The Versatile Classic

Elegance in a Glass

Pinot Noir is perhaps the most well-known light-bodied red wine. It thrives in cooler climates and is celebrated for its delicate flavors which often include notes of cherry, raspberry, and spices. It’s incredibly versatile in food pairing, going splendidly with everything from grilled chicken to fish.

A Global Delight

While Burgundy, France, is the birthplace of Pinot Noir, excellent versions are also produced in New Zealand, Oregon, and California.

2. Gamay: A Fruit-Forward Favorite

Bursting with Berries

Gamay, particularly famous for being the grape used in Beaujolais Nouveau, offers a juicy, fruit-forward taste with very subtle tannins. It typically presents flavors of ripe cherries, raspberries, and hints of banana.

Best Enjoyed Young

Gamay wines are best enjoyed young and are excellent when slightly chilled, making them perfect for a summer gathering.

3. Schiava: The Alpine Star

Light and Aromatic

Schiava is a lesser-known variety from the Alpine regions of northern Italy, particularly Trentino-Alto Adige. It is appreciated for its light body, low tannin levels, and aromatic qualities, often exuding aromas of almonds, cherries, and violets.

Pairing Perfection

Schiava pairs beautifully with light pasta dishes and is a great companion for a charcuterie board.

4. Cinsault: The Heat Lover

Thrives in Warmth

Cinsault is predominantly grown in the warm climates of the Languedoc region of France and in South Africa. It is often used in blends but shines on its own as a light-bodied wine with flavors of red fruits and a soft, floral aroma.

Explore the Blends

When exploring Cinsault, look for both single-varietal bottles and blends to truly appreciate its versatility.

5. Zweigelt: Austria’s Hidden Gem

Unique and Underrated

Zweigelt, a cross between St. Laurent and Blaufränkisch, offers a rare combination of fruity and spicy. It’s got a smooth texture with flavors of cherries, red berries, and a hint of pepper.


Zweigelt is incredibly food-friendly, matching well with dishes that have a spicy kick or smoked meats.

6. Valpolicella: The Italian Classic

More Than Just Amarone

While Amarone, a full-bodied wine from the same region, gets more attention, Valpolicella shines as a lighter option. It’s typically vibrant, tangy, and slightly floral, with a playful acidity that makes it very food-compatible.

Enjoy with Italian Cuisine

Valpolicella is a fantastic choice for Italian night, pairing beautifully with pizza and pasta with tomato-based sauces.

7. Dolcetto: The “Little Sweet One”

Misleadingly Named

Despite its name, Dolcetto (“little sweet one” in Italian) wines are not actually sweet. They are dry, with a light body and typically have flavors of black cherry and licorice.

Best Served With

Dolcetto is excellent with hearty stews and rich pasta dishes, making it a great choice for dinner parties.

8. Frappato: Sicily’s Vibrant Offering

Bright and Berry-Filled

Frappato is a varietal that is often overshadowed by its more famous Sicilian counterpart, Nero d’Avola. However, it stands out with its light body and bright, red berry flavors, making it a joyous wine to drink.

Pairing Ideas

This wine is fantastic with seafood or a simple pizza, bringing a touch of Sicilian sunshine to any meal.


Light-bodied red wines offer a fantastic array of flavors and styles, perfect for those who appreciate a gentler, yet flavorful wine experience. From the classic Pinot Noir to the intriguing Frappato, each wine brings its own unique twist to the table. So why not pour yourself a glass and discover the delicate complexity of these lighter reds?

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