These are savoury, firm reds with lots of personality such as Dolcettos, Barberas, some Zinfandels, Cru Beaujolais, Argentine Malbecs, Chilean Carménère and certain Syrahs. Spicy reds are more flavourful than Mild reds, more herbaceous and earthy than Soft Fruity reds, but have less structure than Powerful Reds.
These Spicy Reds combine medium to high intensity of aroma and flavour with an assertive but not over-imposing structure. They display medium to full body along with perceptible tannin and acidity. Their alcohol can be medium or high, but even when high, it doesn’t define the wines by making them sweet or leaving a “hot” sensation in the back of the mouth. They have substantial texture, are moderately dense and can be fleshy, velvety or grainy in mouth feel. They are not thin and you wouldn’t call them soft because their tannin is well defined. A good spicy red leaves you with a sense of angularity rather than roundness in the mouth.
The aromatics of spicy reds are quite pronounced. Spiciness is of course one of the main aromas and flavours present, but there are many others. Along with spicy notes of black pepper, cinnamon and cloves they will often display strong fruity aromas and flavours, especially fresh (as opposed to stewed, baked or dried) fruits and berries. Many spicy reds also have a distinct mineral component to their taste.
Spicy reds tend to grow in moderate as opposed to warm climates. The underlying grapes tend to be those that are expressive in aroma and flavour, particularly those with spicy aromatics. Because these wines come from many grape varietals and lots of regions they exhibit more diversity and less “sameness” within the style.