Wine for Beginners


It's a question I get asked all the time: "I'm just getting started with wine, where should I start?"

I have a few suggestions. I specifically picked the Conundrum that I tasted in the video accompanying this article because, one, it is easy to find around the country; two, it appears on many restaurant wine lists; and three, it's a real wine that has that delicious factor I'm looking for.

Beyond the Conundrum, I can offer some other general categories that represent good introductory choices:

  • German Riesling. The labels look complicated, but what you want to look for are the words that tell you how sweet the wine is. In wine language, dry is the opposite of sweet, and these terms on the label identify the sweetness level: Trocken (bone dry), Kabinett (somewhat dry), Spatlese (sweet), Auslese (even sweeter). I like to recommend Spatlese for people just getting started because the sugar is so seductive, but the wild fruit flavors are what really lure you back in.
  • Beaujolais Village. Especially if you are into white wine and trying to get started with red, Beaujolais is a great place to begin. I'm not talking about the sugar water you'll see on many Thanksgiving tables. These wines, made from the Gamay grape, are light, fruity, and refreshing. You can even serve them slightly chilled.
  • Argentinean Malbec. For a bigger red wine, try a Malbec. The cost of entry is low, and many Malbec wines in the $6 to $12 price range bring serious thunder! If you like blueberries, Malbec is an overwhelming play.

Click here for a list of specific wine choices for beginners!

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