Medium-Bodied Red Wine Style Guide

Last updated: 9/2023

Applies to: winemakers making medium-bodied red wines in a variety of styles. This article contains a pdf download with complete process and product recommendations.

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Winemakers can drive wine style based on key processing decisions and correct product choice. We created these Scott Labs wine style guides to provide both process and product recommendations for helping winemakers achieve their stylistic goals.


Medium-Bodied Red Wines

Learn how we think about "Medium-Bodied Reds" to determine if this style guide is right for you:


Medium bodied reds are a broad category of wines that share the characteristics of moderate alcohol, moderate acidity, and balanced tannins. These wines often exhibit strong varietal aroma characters (thiols and terpenes) as the tannin in the varieties are not inherently dominant.


  • Merlot
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Tempranillo
  • Rhône reds (Syrah, Mourvèdre, and some styles of Grenache)
  • Sangiovese
  • Barbera
  • Some styles of Pinot noir


Protecting and enhancing varietal characteristics to meet the desired wine style

  • Fruit-forward (berry, pomegranate, cherry and plum)
  • Spicy and savory (anise, pepper, grilled meat, tobacco, cedar, leather)
  • Floral (violets and roses)

Achieving the desired level of extraction

These wines can become over extracted, masking varietal fruit and aroma characters.

Protecting color

The inherent tannin content of these wines are lower than big reds so they can be more prone to oxidation and adverse effects on color.

Protecting against off-odors

Some medium-bodied wines, like Syrah and Tempranillo, are prone to developing volatile sulfur off-odors even when good fermentation practices are employed. Low to no H2S production yeast strains should be considered in these cases.

More Wine Style Guides

Aromatic Whites

Chardonnay and similar white wines

Rhône Whites

Sauvignon blanc and similar white wines

Rosé Wines

Light-Bodied Red Wines

Full-Bodied Red Wines