Red wines can be thought of in three simple categories: Light, Medium and Full bodied.
Light bodied reds include grape varietals like Pinot Noir and Gamay(think Beaujolais). Compared to heavier reds they can be lighter in appearance and color in the glass. Typically they have less tannin, which is the drying quality in your mouth. These lighter reds are often the most popular styles due to their ease of drinking.
Medium bodied reds include wines like Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Grenache. Medium bodied reds are often great “food wines” meaning they are more easily paired to many common meals. Filled with flavor that can be great on their own they are typically not overwhelming with alcohol.
Full bodied reds like the classic Cabernet Sauvignon most often are the deepest and darkest of red wines. Shiraz/Syrah, Malbec, Nebbiolo (think Barolo) are more examples of Full bodied reds. Often heavier with tannins these Full bodied reds can stand up to a juicy steak or similarly richer meal. Many of us will think of Full bodied reds as the red wines we have had that were powerful and deep with rich layers of flavor and aromas. These wines can often hold up well to long aging making them a great gift for a wine lover who may hold onto your gift for years waiting for the perfect time to celebrate with a blockbuster glass of red.