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The Best Wine for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing Your Perfect Beginner Wines
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Wine has been around in a variety of cultures for millennia, so there have been millions of people for eons trying to find the best beginner wine for them. Archeological evidence of fermented grape beverages has been dated back as early as 7000 BCE in Ancient China.
While China continued their production of rice wine, farther west we find the origins of the traditional European wine that we know and love. An ancient wine press was discovered in Armenia, dating back to 4000 BCE. Some Jews and Christians believe that Noah’s ark landed on Mount Ararat and that this is the equipment used for a vineyard he planted after his family got off the boat.
And really, what better way to celebrate a fresh new world than by getting some wine started? In fact, many religions around the world have ancient traditions that involve wine. The Egyptians had Hathor, the God of Wine around 4000 BCE, while the Greeks had Dionysus as their patron of wine. For Romans, it was a gift from Jupiter. Wine has its place on Japanese shrines, as well as the ceremonial altars of China. Perhaps it truly is a gift from the gods.
These days, we have an entire world of wine available, in every conceivable color and flavor. We can only imagine how proud our ancestors would be. For soon-to-be wine connoisseurs, Usual Wines has a fantastic variety of single-serve bottles of wine perfect for beginners. This is a great way to experience a lot of different wines to see what you prefer. Learning about wine can be an exciting journey that can take you all over the world, exploring different regions, grapes, and styles of wine—you might even learn a bit about yourself in the process.
Understanding the Basics of Wine for Beginners
There are five main classifications of wine: white, red, rosé, sparkling, and dessert. Each category has a wide variety of wines within, which makes choosing wine for beginners especially daunting. Exploring these different types of wine is a great way to get started, and to find your perfect beginner wine.
Sommeliers and other wine experts use a lot of words and phrases that can make the world of wine feel intimidating and inaccessible for a novice. Once you know a few of these common terms, though, you’ll be able to discuss wine intelligently and be empowered to taste it with a knowledgeable and thoughtful mindset. Don't be intimidated by the complexity of wine—instead, approach it with a willingness to learn and explore.
The body of a wine simply refers to its feeling in your mouth. This can be affected by a range of factors. If you look at a few glasses of red wine, you can get a good idea of how full-bodied they are by observing the color and the viscosity. Generally speaking, a lighter color means that it will have a lighter body, while a full-bodied red wine will be a deep burgundy color.
The viscosity of a wine refers to its consistency; a thicker wine will have a full body, and it may even look more like a syrup. A full-bodied wine will coat your mouth and the flavor will remain for longer, so it will feel more substantial. A light-bodied wine is still flavorful, but feels thinner—it leaves your mouth feeling more refreshed.
You’ll often hear the term “tannins” tossed around in wine circles. Tannins are plant-derived polyphenols, made from the stems, seeds, and skins of grapes during fermentation. These polyphenols are also the reason red wine is often touted as a healthy beverage. Basically, they’re compounds that are found in a variety of plants, including grapes. They’re bitter and leave a dry feel to your mouth. This is found especially in red wines, though can also be found in a variety of other wines, to a lesser extent.
Have you ever left a black tea bag in too long and found that your tea has become bitter? That’s the tannins in the tea leaves. If you love dark chocolate, black tea, grape juice, whole nuts, and pomegranates, your best beginner wine just might be a tannin-rich red.
In wine, “dry” refers to the level of sweetness or residual sugar left in the wine after fermentation. A wine is considered dry when all or most of the natural grape sugars have been converted into alcohol during fermentation, leaving little or no residual sugar. This means that a dry wine will have little or no sweetness on the palate, and the flavors will be dominated by the acidity, tannins, and other characteristics of the wine.
Choosing Your Beginner Wine
The ideal beginner wine will generally be something that is not too extreme, not overly dry or exceptionally bold. The most important thing you need to know, though, is what you like. Reading and researching are fantastic, but they’re no substitute for experimenting. A mixed pack of single-serve wines from Usual Wines is the perfect way to taste a variety of wines for yourself.
Plus, you can feel good about drinking wine that’s not only high-quality, but is all natural, sustainably farmed, and never has any added sugars. When you try a new variety, look at the wine, swirl it around, smell it, sip it; let your senses fully experience all the different wines, then you’ll be able to begin noting your own preferences. Keeping a wine journal can help you keep track of your preferences and what to look for in your next bottle of wine, whether you buy one specifically designed for wine or just use any notebook you have at home.
Red Wine For Beginners
Red wines generally come in light, medium, and full-bodied varieties. A medium-bodied wine will be somewhere in the middle; it offers the best of both worlds, and can make for a great wine for beginners while you figure out what type of body you prefer. Once you know what type of body you prefer in your red wine, you can use this handy cheat sheet to help you choose whether a lighter Lambrusco or a fuller Cabernet will be the best beginner wine for you.
In addition to the body, red wines can have varying levels of sweetness. Overall, red wines are on the dry side, which means that they don’t taste stereotypically sweet, although you can get a sweet feeling from the ripe fruity notes. Without venturing into the dessert wines, however, expect your red wine to be less sugary than the other options. Grenache and Pinot Noir are on the sweeter side, while Cabernet Sauvignon is an ultra-dry red.
While red wines are typically served at room temperature, there is a growing group of wine connoisseurs who are pushing to give chilling a chance. Try it out both ways, and see what tastes best to you.
Generally, good red wines for beginners are those with low tannin levels, easily identified fruit flavors, and a medium level of acidity, such as Pinot Noir, Bondarda, Red Zinfandel, Garnacha, and Cabernet Sauvignon
This single-serve red from Usual Wines is a smooth, medium-bodied red with notes of raspberry, black cherry, and fennel. This is a perfect beginner wine.
Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel 2017 is a good option that is both fruity and spicy.
This Reserve Pinot Noir has a classic elegance with bold blackberry flavor with hints of cola and lavender.
Beginner Friendly White Wine
Like red wine, white wines also come in light, medium, and full-bodied varieties. In addition, white wines have a myriad of flavors and sweetness profiles. White wines typically have a lower alcohol level and lighter, fresher taste than reds. White wine is ideally served at a temperature of 44 degrees Fahrenheit, so be sure to chill it in the fridge or a bucket of ice before serving.
White wines can be bold in flavor or incredibly light, and they can be very dry or delightfully sweet. If you’re looking for a light, dry, fresh-tasting wine go with a Pinot Grigio or a Chablis. If you’re feeling bold, try a traditional Chardonnay. If you have a sweet tooth, go for a Riesling or Moscato.
This single-serve Pinot is fruity and refreshing—a cool, crisp, and dry white wine that is perfect for beginner wine enthusiasts.
The Palmeri Monte Rosso Vineyard Old Vine Sémillon 2020 is another popular choice; bright, with a touch of pear.
For a Sauvignon Blanc, try this offering from Usual Wines that is fruity and crisp, with notes of prickly pear, starfruit, and marzipan.
Rosé For New Wine Drinkers
Rosé Wine is a unique variety, a middle ground in the red vs white wine debate. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a mix of red and white wines. Instead, it's a red wine that has spent less time fermenting with the grape skins, imparting it with a lighter color and fewer tannins. This unique process imparts properties of both red and white wines. Rosé may even be the best wine for beginners, because it combines the richness of a red with the brightness of a white.
The single-serve rosé from Usual Wines is a perfectly balanced, smooth drink rosé with notes of red peach, wisteria, and watermelon rind that is a great wine for beginners.
Clos Sainte Magdeleine Côtes de Provence rosé is a popular choice with notes of red berries.
The Bandol rosé from Domaine Tempier has a high intensity flavor and no tannins.
Do you love a little fizz? Sparkling wine might just be your ideal beginner wine. Nothing turns a normal day into a celebration like adding some bubbles. Sparkling wines have long been a popular choice for special events, but this can be an excellent choice for a beginner wine. The ever-popular Champagne is actually a specific sparkling wine that comes from the Champagne region of France, not a wine variety itself.
So let’s branch out from that and learn more about the many options available. If you want to learn even more about sparkling wine, check out this article that’s all about sparkling wine. Just about any type of wine can come sparkling, so there are plenty of choices, which can complicate the issue for beginners.
Brut, which is French for dry or unrefined, is a sparkling wine with only the smallest breath of sweetness. Prosecco is a slightly sweeter option that is readily available at your local store. Moscato d'Asti is an Italian sparkling wine that is great for beginner wine drinkers because it’s sweet and fruity, and sometimes even considered a dessert wine.
Taste the original if you have the chance. Krug is well known for their Champagne and it doesn’t disappoint.
This brut is a pure, clean sparkling wine with notes of lemon, elderflower, and bergamot. This is a great beginner wine if you don’t like your wine too sweet. It is crisp, fresh, and easy to drink.
For a more layered flavor, try this aged brut. The aging process in a naturally carbonated wine creates deep notes and a silky texture, with rich notes of lemon and caramelized pineapple.
For a taste of history, Bisol Cartizze Superiore is a lively Prosecco made from grapevines tended by the same family since 1542.
Try a brut rosé for a special twist, with its fresh and fruity notes, perfect for a warm summer day.
This Moscato d’Asti is a top choice among wine experts—it’s intense and floral.
Dessert Wine For Beginners
Lastly, we have dessert wines. This kind of wine, as the name implies, is served with the dessert course—or sometimes even as a dessert itself—and can include ice wine, sherry, and port. The sweetness in dessert wines comes from residual sugar, which is the unfermented sugar left over after the fermentation process is complete.This sweetness can make dessert wine a great option for a beginner wine if you have an affinity for sweets.
Cockburn’s Tawny Port is a popular nutty wine to serve with a creamy dessert.
For an ice wine a little off the beaten path, try this cider ice wine from Vermont, especially with some good cheese.
Try this full, smooth sherry with a simple slice of orange after a great meal.
Beginner Wine & Food Pairing
A great meal can make finding your perfect beginner wine easier. Choose some good meals for the week, and then find a great wine to complement that meal.
Are you serving fish? Go for a white wine like this brut, which pairs just as well with a light, grilled fish filet or a battered and fried fish. A good wine for beginners is one that can pair beautifully with a variety of foods.
If grilled steak or beef stew is on the menu, you can’t go wrong with a red, like this grenache. The tannins help cut through the fat of red meat, and notes of blackberry and black pepper can stand up to the full flavors.
Are you having some friends over for some oven-grilled pizza? Maybe a big salad? Try a cold, crisp brut rosé to highlight the freshness of the ingredients; meanwhile, the bubbles will turn the simple meal into a party.
If you’re looking to wrap up a lovely evening with a bit of dessert or a cheese plate, you can’t go wrong with a light, fruity red to leave you feeling satisfied and tranquil. If you’re not ready to wind down, choose a sparkling wine to keep the evening feeling fresh.
Next Steps on Beginning Your Wine Journey
To be able to fully enjoy your wine-drinking experience, your own preferences are far more important than any other factors. Everyone has their own unique tastes and preferences, but once you have a few beginner wines you like, you can seek out wines with similar attributes and begin to appreciate the nuances and flavors more deeply. The wine world is vast and varied, with many new and exciting wines to discover, so continue to expand your wine horizons even after you've found your perfect beginner wine.
For a beginner wine drinker, Usual Wines is an excellent option to start with. The high-quality, approachable wines come in single-serve bottles, which makes it easy to try a variety of wines without committing to a full bottle. Usual Wines also offers helpful tasting notes and food pairing suggestions, which makes it simple for beginners to navigate the new and exciting world of wine. Enjoy the journey!