Are you new to wine? We are often asked, "What is the Best Wine for beginners". This isn't a simple question to answer, but we will try! Here goes...
Wine For Beginners | Ask Yourself These Questions
We started to think through how to answer this questions. Wine can be a complex topic. There is a long history of excellent writing about the beauty and mystery of wine. There are people who dedicate their lives to studying it. They all had to start somewhere. They were all wine beginners at one point. So how did they get hooked? And why do others get turned off? What is a good wine for beginners to start them on the path to wine lover?
- You need to know yourself first.
- There are some basic dimensions to most wine. These characteristics will impact how much you enjoy the wine.
Which basic elements of wine must you know about?
Sweetness | Beginner wine
Wine is fermented grape juice. The grapes are ripened on the vine and pressed (white wine) or crushed (red wine) and then the sugar in the grape juice is converted to alcohol by yeast. The amount of sugar left at the end depends on the winemaker. Some wine is dry (has little sugar in it). Some wine is sweet (has a lot of sugar in it).
When deciding on the best wine for beginners, you need to think about how much sweetness you are used to. If you drink Coke or Gatorade or any soft drink, you are used to sweetness in your drinks. You probably expect and enjoy high levels of sweetness because of this. When you begin drinking wine you may want to seek out wines with more sugar in them. As you move from a wine beginner to more advanced, you may naturally move away from the sweet red wines and sweet white wines you started with.
So what should you drink until you are ready for dry wines?
There are a number of sweet wines that can appeal to beginner wine drinkers. We love German Rieslings. They are made from dry to very sweet. The sweetest Rieslings are also low in alcohol. This is a great entry point for a new wine drinker.
On the other hand, if you don't enjoy sweetness in drinks, your best wine for beginners will be a dry wine.
Acidity | Beginner Wine
Some wines are high in acidity. This usually results from grapes that are not overly ripe. This can be unpleasant in a wine for beginners or not. Acidic wines can be very bright and refreshing. But you need to decide if that fits your palate. Many white wines are acidic and that is considered a positive depending on the grape type and the winemakers' intentions.
If you enjoy drinks like Kombucha and Starbucks coffee, you have a high tolerance for acidity in drinks.
Tannins | Beginner Wines
Tannins create a feeling of dryness in your mouth. It's as if all the water has been sucked out. This is an odd feeling the first time you drink a truly tannic wine. This may not be the best experience when selecting wines for beginners. Tannins are a key component in many fine wines. This is partly what allows certain wines to age for years and keep improving in quality.
As a first-time wine drinker, you may want to check if the wine was barrel aged. This can impart tannins to the wine.
You also want to avoid some very popular, but very tannic red grapes. These include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese. Beginner wine drinkers who are looking to avoid tannins could focus on wines made from Grenache and Barbera. These are lower tannin red wines.
Price | Beginner Wines
Don't spend too much when you first start exploring wine. We also suggest you don't spend too little. Anything under $5-$6 for a bottle is going to be too little. We suggest you spend between $9 and $15 when you are first trying things out. Wine gets more expensive for many reasons, but a major factor is the complexity of the wine. The complexity comes from both the quality of the grapes and the skill of the winemaker. The beginner wine drinker isn't going to have enough experience to appreciate this complexity. Down the road yes, but not at first.
Varietals | Beginner Wine
There are a number of different grape varieties that winemakers use when producing wine. When you are new to wine, it makes sense to focus in on some of the most popular varietals. The varietal is another name for the grape that is used. Grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are very popular right now. There are many quality wines you can try that use these grapes. As you become clearer on the wine styles you like, you can start to branch out to new grapes.
Here are our favorite varietals (grape types) for beginners:
Pinot Grigio | Shop Pinot Grigio Wines
Sauvignon Blanc | Shop Sauvignon Blanc
Chardonnay | Shop Chardonnay
Riesling | Shop Rieslings
Merlot | Shop Merlot
Pinot Noir | Shop Pinot Noir
Cabernet Sauvignon | Shop Cabernet Sauvignon
Jump Start Your Wine Education
There are a number of books and courses that can help you learn more about wine. We are more practical. If you want to learn more about wine, drink it. But don't just drink randomly. Drink wine with intention. By that, we mean you should find groupings of wine that you can taste side by side. This will be the quickest way to start to learn and move beyond a wine novice.
So what do we suggest?
Find three Chardonnays from different regions. Buy a cold climate Chard, moderate and warm climate version. Pour all three and taste. What do you notice? Write it down.
Buy three bottles of red. Select three popular varietals and pour and taste them. You may want to start with a Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. When you taste, notice the differences. What are the aromas of each? How do they taste? Is there crossover? What are the differences?
Stick with this plan for a few tasting sessions. You can introduce new wines and new regions as your palate develops. It will probably help to add a book or class at some point to help formalize your knowledge.
Wine.com does a nice job with their new Wine Discover Sets. They will send you a grouping of wines that are designed for just what we described above.
We hope you have concluded that the best wine for beginners depends on you. If you are someone who drinks a lot of sweet beverages, focus on sweeter wine when you first start. Do you love acidic drinks, seek out some bright acidic white wines when you first start. Eventually, you will decide if you enjoy wine. At that point, you can start exploring different wine varieties and more beyond the best wine for beginners. That's when the real fun begins.