Have you ever asked yourself; Which wine should I drink, but didn’t know where to get started? Drinking wine can be a fun time! However, many people struggle or feel overwhelmed because there are so many different types of wine and they don’t know which one might be the right one for them. No need to worry any longer! This guide will inform you of the basics of wine and knowing what they taste like!

I have some experience with wine working at my family owned Wine and Spirits shop. Many times I come across people that have little to no experience with drinking wine. Many of them ask themselves the question: Which Wine Should I Drink? Every time that question is asked I wonder if it would be easier for them to have a simple guide with the most popular wines that sell. From my own experience I want to create a fundamental guide that a beginner can use so that they can start drinking wine and building their taste profile on their wine journey. I want to include the wines that I believe are some of the most common and can help beginners to start experimenting around with.

Which Red Wines To Drink

Pinot Noir


A delicate, light-bodied wine that has a silky texture without the “chewiness” that comes from a lot of tannins. (Tannins leave a dry, fuzzy feeling on your tongue, similar to the sensation you get when you bite the skin off of a grape.) Tannins are a textural element in wine that makes it taste dry. Compared to other red wine, pinot noir usually has the least amount of tannins which makes it the least driest. The level of tannins that are present in Pinot Noir make the wine light bodied. It is recommended that if you are a beginner, Pinot Noir wine might be a wine you should be exploring to drink.

What to pair Pinot Noir’s with: This is the most versatile of red wines and can be paired with almost anything. Pinot Noir works with steak, strong-flavored, meatier fish like tuna or salmon, grilled chicken, turkey, or vegetarian dishes.

Merlot


Medium-bodied, with an uncomplicated fruitiness that is often described as “jammy” and a taste that’s reminiscent of plums or cherries. A merlot wine is slightly more drier than a Pinot Noir and has more tannins. The fruitiness of the wine makes it more fruitier and it also has a smoother finish.
Merlots are a great wine to pair with food because it is medium bodied, thus making it not too dry or too sweet. If you are an intermediate experienced wine drinker, you should consider Merlot’s if you plan on having a meal with it.

Cabernet

 Cabernet Sauvignon is loved for its high concentration and age worthiness. This is the driest and boldest of the red wines. Making this for experienced wine drinkers. You should consider drinking cabernet’s once you have built your taste profile and explored the previous options so you can get a sense of how to drink and explore different wine options. Compared to other wines cabernet’s have a heavier and richer taste profile. The fruit flavors are more intense as well. Cabernet wines have the highest amount of tannins so it pairs well with food that are rich in flavor such as grilled meats, and peppery sauces. Once you believe you have some experience as a wine drinker and you are asking yourself, which wine I should drink; Consider a cabernet.

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Image by WineFolly

The Image above shows the fruit flavors that are present in red wines. Another interesting fact that to be noted is that the shape of the bottle has a significance. The taller bottle with the higher shoulders will always have the same shape for Cabernet Sauvignon’s, Malbecs, Tempranillo’s, and Syrah’s. The bottle with the sloping shoulders are for wine’s that are Pinot Noirs, Grenache’s, Merlot’s, and Nebbiolo’s. It helps to know what type of fruit flavors are present in certain types of wine because as you get more experienced and build a palette you will likely start to have a preference. The image will help you decide on which wine’s to look for.

Which White Wines To Drink

If you’ve asked yourself which white wines I should drink you might’ve been lost because there are so many. This guide will cover the basics that I believe happen to be the most popular. From my personal experience from working in a Wine and Spirits Shop the following white wines that people ask for the most are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc’s, Rieslings, and Pinot Grigio’s. I believe that beginner’s that are interested in white wines they should explore the following options. After you’ve tried these wines and are still interested in trying others, that is when you should look for more advanced options. I believe these basics will help you to make good decisions on choosing wine going forward.

Chardonnay


Chardonnay’s are grown all around the world and tend to be a drier white wine. Chardonnay’s are aged in oak barrels which gives it a drier taste profile. This type of wine has a heavier body style and also can be considered ‘buttery.’ Chardonnay’s vary from being oaky and toasty to more fresh with fruitier flavors such as apple and citrus. Chardonnay’s can be paired with mild, buttery, or creamy dishes. For example it can be paired with fish such as halibut, cod, shrimp, and lobster. If you enjoy these dishes and believe you would enjoy a glass of wine with it, consider a Chardonnay.

Sauvignon Blanc


A refreshing wine which comes from the high levels of acidity and low amounts of sugar. When you drink this wine you will taste hints of lime, apple, passion fruit and peach. Generally Sauvignon blancs are a drier wine to drink. However some producers leave sugar in them for a richer flavor. Sauvignon Blancs are known for being herbaceous and being ‘green.’ When pairing Sauvignon Blanc’s you should look for dishes that have parsley, rosemary, basil, cilantro or mint. These make for a great pairing. If you enjoy eating dishes as such, you should drink a Sauvignon Blanc.

Riesling

A riesling can vary from being sweet or dry. While most riesling are typically on the sweeter side there are some that are dry as well. Rieslings are fruity and contain fruit flavors such as apricot, nectarine, peach, pear, pineapple, lime, and lemon. Rieslings are a medium bodied wine and have a smooth finish. Many people drink Riesling wine for the fruity and sweet taste and also drink it alone as a dessert wine! Due to Rieslings being sweet they are perfect to pair with spicy foods. Strong Indian food and Asian spices are a great way to pair with Riesling wines. I believe that Rieslings can be tricky for beginners since it can be considered sweet or dry so click here to learn more about Riesling wine.

Pinot Grigio

A medium bodied white wine that is a drier wine and has higher levels of acidity. Typically Pinot Grigio’s will always be dry. The primary fruit flavor in Pinot Grigio include lime, green apple, meyer lemon, and white nectarine. Pinot Grigio’s range from being less and more ripe depending on the type of fruit flavoring that it has. Pinot Grigio’s are also grown all around the world and can vary slightly on the taste profile based on where the Pinot Grigio grape was grown. Compared to a Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio’s tend to be less sweet than a Chardonnay because of the high acidity content of the wine. When pairing Pinot Grigio with food you want to eat lighter dishes. For example raw fish, and vegetables are great. Fish and white meats are also a great option to consider when drinking a Pinot Grigio wine.

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Image By Pinterest

The image above displays the different types of white wine that weren’t discussed in the guide but are also out there. This can give you an idea of what type of wines you might want to try and see what body style they are. This can give you an idea on the level of dryness they are as well.

Now you have the fundamental knowledge of the different types of wine that are out there! Everyone will have a different preference on which wines they want to drink. Wine should also be switched up based upon your mood, season, or meal that you are having. There are also certain types of wine glasses that you should look into if you are interested in drinking in the proper wine glass for a certain wine. You should also decant certain wines that require it for a better taste. I believe this guide will set you on the right path and give you a sense of direction on wine and what to look for the next time you go wine shopping. Once you have tried these basics I would recommend to explore other options. You should continue your wine journey by trying different brands as well.