Best Wine Guide for Beginners
I’ve consumed exactly 739 bottles of wine so far. Is that the correct number? Well, of course not, but there’s no such thing as a wine bottle police.
All jokes aside, I’ve had my fair share of wine, and I remember what it was like when I first started drinking wine and had no idea what to choose. Even with wine, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for someone just beginning their wine journey might be completely different for someone else.
So, I’ve compiled a list of wines that, in my opinion, are perfect for new wine drinkers.
Best White Wines for Beginners
White wines are the perfect gateway into the world of wine. Their approachability and milder nature, in contrast to the intensity of red wines, make them an excellent choice for beginners. They often display a spectrum of fruit flavors, from citrus and green apple to tropical fruit like pineapple and mango.
White wines generally have a lighter body compared to most reds. This makes them feel less heavy on the palate and more accessible. White wines usually have minimal to no tannins, which are compounds found in the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes. This absence of tannins makes them feel smoother. (1)
Moscato is a sweet and aromatic white wine. It is famous for its distinctive fruity and floral notes, with a fragrant bouquet of orange blossoms, peaches, and apricots. It can be described as “light and sweet,” and its flavors tend to be vibrant and refreshing, making it a great choice for those new to wine.
Moscato wines are typically low in alcohol content, hovering around 5-7%, which can be less intimidating for beginners. Their pronounced sweetness, often balanced by a gentle acidity, pleases palates unaccustomed to the complexities of drier wines. The gentle effervescence of some Moscato variations further enhances their appeal to beginner wine enthusiasts.
This white wine pairs well with a wide range of foods, from spicy dishes to desserts, or you can simply sip it on its own. Its accessible nature, sweetness, and captivating aromas make Moscato an excellent starting point for anyone looking to explore the diverse wine world without feeling overwhelmed.
Riesling is a versatile white wine celebrated for its high acidity and sometimes distinct sweetness. Riesling wines offer many flavors, from green apple and citrus to tropical fruits like pineapple and apricot.
Riesling has an ability to showcase its terroir, reflecting the characteristics of the region where it’s grown. This offers an excellent opportunity for beginners to explore different styles and nuances of the wine, from dry to sweet.
Riesling wines typically have a lower alcohol content, ranging from 8% to 12%, making them less scary for those new to wine. Their pronounced fruitiness and refreshing acidity makes them easy to appreciate and enjoy with a variety of dishes, from spicy cuisine to light salads.
Vinho Verde, a personal favorite of mine, is a delightful Portuguese wine that’s particularly well-suited for beginners. Its name, which translates to “green wine,” doesn’t come from its color but from its youthful and refreshing character. Vinho Verde offers vibrant acidity and effervescence, making it exceptionally refreshing.
It often has citrus, green apples, and floral notes. Vinho Verde wines typically have a lower alcohol content, usually around 9-11%. This makes them approachable for those not accustomed to stronger wines.
Many Vinho Verde wines have a subtle fizz, making them more enjoyable and inviting. Vinho Verde is often reasonably priced, so it’s the perfect wine for beginners who may not want to invest in expensive bottles as they’re getting to know wine.
Its crispness and slight effervescence make it an excellent pairing for a variety of foods, including seafood, salads, and lighter dishes.
Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied wine, known for its easy-drinking qualities, making it one of the most preferred beginner wines. This wine typically displays a pale straw color and offers crisp, refreshing flavors.
Its primary characteristics often include notes of citrus, green apples, and sometimes a subtle hint of pear. Pinot Grigio’s lower alcohol content, typically around 12-13%, adds to its approachability, ensuring a milder drinking experience.
What makes Pinot Grigio particularly appealing to beginners is its wide availability, often at affordable prices. Its versatility in pairing with a variety of dishes, from salads to seafood, enhances its popularity as a beginner wine.
Gewürztraminer is celebrated for its pronounced floral and exotic fruit aromas, including roses, lychee, and apricot. These intense fragrances are complemented by a luscious, slightly sweet taste.
Gewürztraminer wines typically have an alcohol content that falls in the range of 12% to 14%. This alcohol level adds to the wine’s overall balance, especially when it’s slightly sweet, as it helps to offset the sweetness and maintain harmony in the flavor profile.
This wine is excellent for beginners who appreciate something different. Its sweetness, often balanced by a touch of acidity and bold flavors, makes it easy to enjoy.
However, Gewürztraminer might not work for everybody due to its strong aromatics and sweetness. Some love it for its unique qualities, while others may find it overwhelming. It pairs well with spicy cuisines and Asian dishes.
Best Red Wines for Beginners
Red wines, although more intense than whites, offer an enticing introduction to the world of wine. They have a diverse spectrum of flavors, from red fruit flavors like dark berries to earthy notes. With a fuller body, red wine provides a complex, layered tasting experience for beginners.
Tannins contribute to the structured and slightly harsh quality of red wine, distinguishing it from white wine. While it may require a bit more exploration, red wine offers a rich tasting journey for newcomers.
Pinot Noir (New World)
Pinot Noir is known for its delicate and nuanced character. This red grape variety produces wines that are celebrated for their elegant nature. Pinot Noir typically displays flavors of red berries, sweet red cherries, and sometimes earthy undertones, all set against a backdrop of subtle spiciness.
Its light to medium body, low tannin levels, and vibrant acidity make it exceptionally approachable for beginners. Pinot Noir wines offer an excellent entry point into red wine, showcasing a broad range of flavors. They complement a wide range of dishes, from roasted chicken and salmon to mushroom risotto and charcuterie.
Beaujolais is a beloved choice for both new and experienced wine lovers. What sets Beaujolais apart is its signature red grapes, Gamay, which produce wines known for their vibrant and fruity profile. Beaujolais often features flavors of red berries, particularly fresh and juicy strawberries, with a hint of floral notes.
Beaujolais has a light to medium body, low tannins, and a lively acidity. These qualities make it incredibly approachable for beginners, offering a smooth and pleasant tasting experience. Its youthful and lively character, often enjoyed slightly chilled, adds to its appeal.
Beaujolais Nouveau is released shortly after the harvest and celebrated for its fresh and fruity qualities. It’s an excellent entry point for those looking to explore red wine, as it’s light, uncomplicated, and meant to be enjoyed in its youth.
Lambrusco is an approachable red wine often celebrated for its sparkling and slightly sweet nature. This wine is known for its bright and effervescent character, making it stand out among red wine.
Lambrusco wines typically offer flavors of sweet red berries, such as raspberries and strawberries, along with a touch of sweetness. They often have a refreshing acidity that balances the sweetness, creating a harmonious taste profile.
Lambrusco has a slight effervescence, which adds a lively quality to the wine. It’s an easy-drinking choice, especially for those new to red wine, as it offers a light and enjoyable tasting experience.
Lambrusco pairs exceptionally well with a variety of Italian dishes, including pizza, pasta, and charcuterie.
Shiraz (New World)
Shiraz, also known as Syrah in some regions, is a bold red wine. It’s characterized by its intense and complex flavors, typically featuring dark fruit notes like blackberries, plums, and sometimes a touch of spiciness or black pepper.
Shiraz wines tend to have a full body, significant tannins, and a rich, often velvety mouthfeel. These qualities contribute to a deep and layered tasting experience, which can be interesting for those who appreciate more powerful and complex red wines.
It pairs well with hearty dishes, such as grilled meats, stews, and hard cheeses. For beginners looking for a bolder and more intense red wine experience, Shiraz is an intriguing option.
Carmenère often presents deep and complex flavors, including dark fruit notes like blackberries and plums, along with intriguing herbal and green pepper undertones.
Carmenère wines typically have a medium to full body with moderate tannins and a balanced acidity, making them accessible and enjoyable. What sets Carmenère apart is its characteristic herbaceous and earthy character, which adds a layer of complexity to its taste profile.
Its intriguing flavors and smooth texture make it a fascinating choice for those seeking something distinctive within the world of red wines. Carmenère pairs well with a range of dishes, from grilled meats to Mexican cuisine.
Best Sparkling Wines for Beginners
Sparkling wine is an excellent choice for beginners due to its lively nature. It is often light, crisp, and effervescent, with flavors ranging from citrus and green apples to more complex, yeasty notes, making it an approachable entry to the world of wine.
Moscato d’Asti is a lightly sparkling wine famous for its sweet and aromatic qualities. This wine has an intensely fruity bouquet, featuring notes of ripe peaches and orange blossoms. Moscato d’Asti’s gentle effervescence and balanced sweetness make it one of the best wines for beginners or for anyone in search of a dessert-like sparkling wine.
Moscato d’Asti has a low alcohol content, typically ranging from 5.5% to 7.5%. This low alcohol level contributes to its easy-drinking and refreshing character. Moscato d’Asti is light to medium-bodied, which aligns with its overall delicate and pleasant profile.
This fruit-forward wine pairs exceptionally well with a range of desserts, fruit-based dishes, or even as an aperitif.
Prosecco is a popular and approachable sparkling wine cherished for its effervescence and fresh, fruity notes. Unlike Moscato d’Asti, Prosecco falls on the drier side of the wine scale.
It typically offers notes of green apples, pears, and citrus, often with a touch of floral and honey undertones.
Prosecco is renowned for its light and crisp character, with a moderate to high level of effervescence that gives it a lively and refreshing quality.
One of Prosecco’s distinguishing features is its lower alcohol content, usually around 11% to 12%, making it an easy-drinking and enjoyable option. Prosecco is often enjoyed as an aperitif, in cocktails like the Bellini, or paired with a variety of dishes, contributing to its popularity as a sparkling wine for all occasions.
Cava is a sparkling wine known for its vibrant and effervescent nature. Cava often features flavors of green apples, citrus, and sometimes, subtle nutty or toasty notes.
Cava has a crisp and refreshing character, with delicate bubbles that create an elegant mouthfeel. It offers an excellent balance of acidity, contributing to its versatility as both an aperitif and a food-friendly wine.
Cava’s alcohol content typically ranges from 11% to 12%, which adds to its approachability and makes it a pleasant choice for those seeking a sparkling wine with moderate alcohol levels. It pairs exceptionally well with a variety of dishes, from seafood to tapas.
Best Rosé Wines for Beginners
Rosé wines are a great choice for beginners since they offer a balance between the flavors of red and white wines. They often feature a refreshing and fruit-forward profile, with notes of strawberries, watermelon, and citrus.
White Zinfandel is a popular and accessible wine choice, particularly for beginners. It is a light and slightly sweet rosé wine made from the Zinfandel grape.
White Zinfandel is knownfor its pleasant and fruity character, often showcasing flavors of strawberries, melon, and a hint of citrus. Its gentle sweetness and refreshing acidity make it an easy-drinking and approachable wine, providing a great introduction to rosé for those new to wine.
This wine pairs well with a variety of lighter dishes, such as salads, poultry, or simply enjoyed as a refreshing aperitif.
Provence Rosé is one of the most famous styles of rosé wine. Known for its pale and delicate color, it often presents a crisp and refreshing profile with flavors of red berries, citrus, and subtle floral notes.
It has a dry and elegant character, making it a favorite choice for both beginners and wine enthusiasts. Its versatility in food pairings, from Mediterranean cuisine to light seafood dishes, further enhances its appeal, offering an authentic taste of the Provençal terroir and a delightful entry into the world of rosé wines.
Italian Rosato refers to a diverse category of rosé wines famous for their versatility and regional nuances. These easy-drinking wines typically offer a spectrum of flavors, from red berries like cherries and raspberries to citrus and herbal undertones.
Italian Rosato wines often display a dry and crisp character. Their food-friendly nature pairs exceptionally well with a variety of Italian dishes, from antipasti and pizza to pasta and grilled seafood.
Quick Tips on Wine for Beginners (For Better Taste Buds)
Wine drinking is an enjoyable and rewarding journey, and as a beginner, there are several tips that can enhance your experience and help you appreciate wine to the fullest. Whether you’re just starting or looking to expand your wine knowledge, here are some valuable pointers to consider:
Explore Different Varietals: Begin by exploring a variety of wine types, such as red, white, and rosé. Each type offers a unique flavor profile and characteristics, so sampling different varietals is an excellent way to discover your preferences.
Start with Lighter Wines: Lighter wines, both in terms of body and flavor, are often recommended for beginners. They are generally more approachable and less overwhelming on the palate. Look for wines labeled as “light-bodied” or “easy-drinking.”
Learn to Read Labels: Wine labels provide essential information about the wine, such as the grape variety, region, and alcohol content. Familiarize yourself with the basics of label reading to make more informed selections.
Understand Terroir: The concept of terroir refers to the influence of the specific region in which the grapes are grown on the wine’s flavor. As you progress in your wine journey, pay attention to the regions that produce your favorite wines and explore more from those areas.
Use Proper Glassware: Invest in good-quality wine glasses. Different wine styles are best enjoyed in specific glass shapes designed to concentrate the aromas and flavors.
Swirl and Sniff: Swirling your wine in the glass helps release its aromas. Take a moment to appreciate the scents before taking a sip. The aromas can give you insights into the wine’s characteristics.
Sip and Savor: When you taste wine, take small sips and let it coat your palate. Pay attention to the various flavors and textures, and think about how the wine makes you feel.
Pair Wine with Food: Wine and food complement each other wonderfully. Experiment with pairing your wine with different dishes to enhance both the food and wine. For example, white wines often go well with seafood and poultry, while red wines complement red meats.
Keep a Wine Journal: Consider maintaining a wine journal to record your experiences with different wines. Note the name, producer, vintage, and your thoughts on the aroma, taste, and pairing suggestions. This can help you remember your preferences and discoveries.
Take Wine Classes: Wine classes or courses, whether in person or online, are excellent opportunities to learn more about wine. You can gain valuable knowledge and practical tasting experience.
Explore Wine Regions: Plan visits to wineries or wine regions whenever possible. This firsthand experience can deepen your understanding of wine production and appreciation.
Don’t Fear Making Mistakes: It’s perfectly okay to make mistakes and explore wines that you don’t end up liking. Everyone’s palate is different, and learning what you enjoy is an essential part of the journey.
Socialize and Share: Wine is often best enjoyed in the company of others. Share your wine experiences with friends and family, as discussing wine can be both fun and educational.
Drink Responsibly: Finally, always drink wine in moderation and be mindful of its alcohol content. Responsible wine drinking ensures your safety and enjoyment.
Remember that your wine journey is a personal one, and there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to your preferences. Wine drinking is about discovery, enjoyment, and sharing memorable moments.
Well, that’s an extensive list of wines to try, dear beginner wine drinkers. I believe I’ve included some of the best wines for beginners, at least in my opinion as an experienced wine drinker. However, wine appreciation is a personal journey, and everyone’s wine-drinking experience can be unique.
I’ll share a secret: I began in the opposite way, starting with wines like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and other full-bodied options that may not be the best for beginners. But I’m still here, now loving wine more than ever, so it wasn’t a critical mistake.
In any case, I hope this list assists you on your path to loving wine. Happy sipping!
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