10 Great Wines For Beginners
– Lost in a Sea of Bottles
So, you’re finally ready to dive into the world of wine.
Reds? Whites? Where do you start! What do you like? What’s your taste? Which wines are good to start with? What’s your driver’s license number?
These are all questions we ask ourselves when delving into the world of wine for the first time. Except the last one. You don’t want to hear that question after drinking wine, so be careful. The world of wine is boundless and exciting, and we at Vastewine are here to help navigate you through the stormy seas of the vino world and get you on the right path. I also promise to quit using the ocean references. I honestly don’t know what’s going on here.
Before I start recommending specific wines for you to get started with, we need to cover some simple basics of wine tasting. Determining which type of wine to start with can seem to be a daunting task, but if you have a basic understanding of what the wine consists of, the buying process becomes much simpler.
In the most basic terms, the wine world is divided into reds and whites. Sure, there is champagne, rose’s, and other fruity variations, but the core is red and whites. Within those two divisions is a vast array of various grape varieties that will give the wine its body and character. So where do you start? Let’s go over a few things first.
Taste: Well yeah, this one is important. The “taste” of a wine depends on the type of grapes used, the techniques used by the winemakers, and the way it’s stored and aged. In the beginning, I highly recommend starting with a simple wine that is not too complex. You don’t want to overload your taste buds here. Wine has a huge variation in tastes, with such flavors as leather, fruit, berries, tobacco, dirt, spice, and licorice to name just a few. So, depending on the types of grapes used and the vineyard techniques, you are going to experience a wide range of taste.
Aroma: Yeah, wines can either smell great or like rotten eggs. If you want to become an expert on wine, then yes, learning how to “sniff” wine is important. It’s amazing what your senses can tell you about the wine without even drinking it. If you just want to be a casual wine drinker, then don’t sweat it. You will be able to tell if it smells good or not.
Sweetness: I’m not talking about sweet fruity wines here. Many beginners like their wines to be a little sweeter than dry. The sweetness of a wine will be determined during the harvesting process and the varietal itself. Sweetness will range from the dry reds to the very sweet dessert wines such as Port. You will figure out quickly what is too sweet or not sweet enough for your tastebuds.
Body: No, I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about how a wine “feels” in your mouth. Is it heavy or light? In the beginning, many wine drinkers tend to go with lighter wines. As with sweetness, this is another area that your tastebuds will tell you yes or no. Listen to them.
Red Wine – Let’s just jump into it, shall we?
Cabernet Sauvignon: Possibly the most popular wine varietal in the world, Cabernet Sauvignon is a full bodied red wine that is high in alcohol and has a vast array of flavors and aromas. Cabernet Sauvignon is classified as a dry wine, meaning it will make your lips pucker. Vanilla, coffee bean, chocolate and coffee are common tastes with this incredible wine. Try it with steak, ribs, and roasted potatoes.
Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is another extremely popular grape varietal worldwide. Considered a medium to full bodied wine, flavors such as oak, vanilla, and rose will explode on your palate. It has a nice feel in your mouth and won’t overwhelm your senses. Try Pinot Noir with Roasted Duck, salmon, mushrooms and pork roast.
Merlot: The second most popular wine varietal worldwide behind Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot is a fresh and fruity yet dry, full-bodied wine. Hints of vanilla, clove, and mocha finish off the fruity undertones, leaving you with an explosion of taste that will leave you wanting more and more. Try Merlot with chicken, fish, and red meats.
Shiraz: Also known as Syrah, Shiraz is a medium to full-bodied red that is very smooth and pleasing to your palate. Notes of blackberry, black cherries, licorice, and dark chocolates will make your tastebuds smile. Try Shiraz with grilled vegetables, stews, sausage and wild game.
Malbec: Delicious is a great way to describe this rich, full-bodied red wine. Generally a dry wine, Malbec will deliver dark fruit and berry tastes to your mouth. Yes, you might pucker again here. Try Malbec with pizza, tomato based pastas, and grilled beef.
Ok, now that we got the basics of what a wine will consist of, it’s time to recommend some specific grape varietals! Yay! The fun part. Let’s start with the white wines.
Pinot Grigio: If you think white wine is where you want to start, Pinot Grigio is a great way to get going. Very light bodied and crisp all the way through. You will experience tastes of green apple, lemon, and flower blossoms with most Pinot Grigios. This is a medium to full bodied wine, so it will be a little heavier in your mouth. Try this wine with fish, chicken or pasta.
Chardonnay: The world’s most famous white grape, Chardonnay is a complex wine due to how it’s stored in barrels. Hints of vanilla, butter, cinnamon and clove will be common taste characteristics of this wine. There are variations, however, as different regions of the world will vary greatly in flavors with Chardonnay. Try this amazing wine with mild cheeses, seafood, chicken or pork.
Sauvignon Blanc: Very crisp and zesty, Sauvignon Blanc is another popular white wine variety. This wine can be a bit wild, which is why many enthusiasts enjoy it so much. Interesting flavors such as grass, black current, asparagus and green apple are common tastes you will find. Try Sauvignon Blanc with fish, chicken, pork, or sushi.
Riesling: This German superstar is another complex wine that embodies pure sweetness. Riesling is a great wine for beginners because of how it feels in your mouth. It’s a gentle and sweet combination. Tastes of nuts, honey, peach and citrus will be found here. Try Riesling with chicken, duck, turkey, and crab.
Moscato: Moscato is a light-bodied, perfumy white wines that is similar to a sparkling wine. Great for beginners, tastes of oranges, citrus, peach, and green grapes will please the palate. Moscato is easy to drink, especially if you favor sweet citrus flavors. Try Moscato with any kind of cheese, charcuterie, or as a simple dessert wine.
Ok, so how do you feel? Ready to get out there and try some wines?
Remember, wine is meant to be enjoyed by YOU. So, don’t worry about what your neighbor standing in his underwear on the front lawn is trying to tell you when it comes to what you like. Try a couple of these great wines, or better yet, try them all! You might surprise yourself and find a wine varietal that pleases your palate that you originally thought you wouldn’t like. Who knows. That’s one of the most exciting perks of wine drinking……drinking the wine! Let the flavors and aromas explode in your mouth.
Enjoy every sip, Every bottle.
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