Straight-Forward Wine Tips For Beginners

Are you intimated by wine? Never had a taste for it but feel like you’re missing out, especially during social events? Me too!

For years, I was afraid of wine. After a bad experience in college with a very cheap bottle that tasted like distilled vinegar gone wrong, it was many years before I tried it again.

But I’m here to dispell any wine drinking myths that you may have and to share some tips I’ve learned during my journey as a wine newbie. I’m not a connoisseur, don’t claim to be and don’t want to be. Heck, I will still probably only drink a glass a few times a year. But at least now I know what wines I like, how to serve it to others, and what foods to pair with it.

What’s the Best Wine For a Beginner?

I don’t think there’s one type of wine that every beginner drinker will necessarily love. It’s really a matter of trying a few different types and seeing what you like. However, If you’ve never tried wine before, or had a bad experience like me, one of the sweeter or lighter varieties such as a Riesling, Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice.

The Importance of Pairing Wine With The Right Foods

Through my wine tasting research over the past few weeks, I also discovered just how much impact pairing wine with the right foods can have. It was quite fascinating to note how well certain wines paired with certain foods, and conversely how pairing wines with the wrong foods made the wine taste horrible!

I used to think all the food pairing stuff was rubbish until I actually experimented and realized there’s so much truth to it. So, if you don’t like drinking wine on its own, pairing it with the correct food will make a huge difference in how it tastes!

Bottle of white wine paired with fruit and goat cheese crostini

Wine Categories

Most wines fall into one of 9 different categories:

  1. Light-Bodied White Wine (easy to drink, examples are Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc)
  2. Full-Bodied White Wine (example: chardonnay)
  3. Aromatic (sweet) White Wine (example: Riesling)
  4. Rosé Wine (comes in all varieties from dry to sweet)
  5. Light-Bodied Red Wine (example: Pinot Noir)
  6. Medium-Bodied Red Wine (example: Merlot, Zinfandel or a red blend)
  7. Full-Bodied Red Wine (example: Cabernet Sauvignon)
  8. Dessert Wine (example: port)
  9. Sparkling Wine (Cava, Prosecco, Champagne)

Why Do People Swirl Wine Before Drinking It?

We’ve all seen people swirl the wine in their glasses and take a sniff. If you’re a newbie like me, you probably think it’s silly and pretentious. But it actually serves an important purpose! Swirling the wine around in the glass allows the aroma to be released. The aroma is important as is plays a large part in enjoying the wine! You only need to swirl it a little bit for the aroma to be released. Over-doing it will have the opposite of the intended effect: oxidizing the wine and making it taste bitter.

Various bottles of red and white wine on a coffee table with appetizers

How to Serve wine, How to store wine 

Keeping it as simple as possible, rose and white wines should be served chilled, between 50 and 60 degrees while red wine should be served at room temperature or just slightly chilled – between 60 and 70 degrees is best.

Easy Food and Wine Pairings

I previously mentioned how food pairings can make or break a wine. There’s a few “rules” that I’ve been following that have helped me figure out which wine goes best with what food. Don’t take these as hard and fast rules, merely a starting point to help you figure out what what’s for your palette. If you enjoy white wine with your steak, then go for it!

Any red wine such as a Cabernet goes great with beef. Think a juicy steak or as an appetizers, these Roast Beef and Horseradish Cream Crostini.

Red white paired with roast beef crostini

A red blend pairs well with barbecue, such as my Honey BBQ Crockpot Meatballs.

Honey BBQ meatballs pair well with a red blend wine

Rose all day? Yes please! But I found that I like it paired with “summery foods” like light salads, light pasta and rice dishes, as well as goats cheese. Try it with these Blackberry and Whipped Goats Cheese Crostini.

Bottle of rose with crostini appetizers

My personal favorite, Sauvignon Blanc, which is a light bodied white wine, is delicious with creamy cheeses like Brie. I particularly love the “Liquid Light” Sauvignon Blanc (only 105 calories per glass!). Similarly, sparkling wine pairs well with the same types of foods.

A glass of Sauvignon Blanc alongside a charcuterie board

Medium bodied white wines such as chardonnay work well alongside something rich and buttery, as well as chicken or fish. I recommend my Chicken and Mushroom Vol Au Vents as a great appetizer.

Chicken and mushroom vol au vents

Riesling is perfect for take-out night! Pair it with Chinese or Tex-Mex food. And finally, dessert wine works well with…desserts!

How to Host a Wine Tasting Party

Diving into the world of wine is incredibly fun. Why not make it a whole experience and host a wine tasting party? It’s a great way to try a variety of wines and eat some delicious foods, like what I put together on this charcuterie board.

Wine tasting party with different wines and a cheese and meat charcuterie board

Use a wine subscription service like ēlicit Wine Project makes ordering the wine easy, too. These days, unless I can order it online, I’m probably not leaving my house for it!

With ēlicit‘s subscription service, you can build a box from 1-12 bottles, with discounts increasing as you subscribe to a higher bottle
quantity. A 12-Bottle Box ships for just a penny and receives 15% off wine!

Charcuterie board for a wine tasting party filled with fruits, cheeses, meats and crackers

The best part about a wine tasting party is experimenting with the different wines and how they taste with different foods. I highly recommend making a charcuterie board with cheese, meats, fruit and nuts.

A woman sitting at a table with food and wine

Wine and cheese are a match made in heaven. Eat a bite of mild, creamy cheese and try a sip of your wine. Note how it tastes, then try a different cheese or one of the meats and see how it affects the taste. This will give you a really great sense of which flavors work best with the wine you’re drinking.

Bottles of wine served alongside cheese

Are you excited to start loving wine? I’m happy that I finally figured out what all the fuss is about! I’m also excited to try out some new wine varieties during this holiday season too!

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