Wine has been enjoyed for thousands of years by people all over the world. There are different types - red wine, white wine, rose, sparkling, dessert wines, rice wines, and many more.
You can drink wine with food or without, you can use it in cooking, and certain wines are supposed to be enjoyed with particular meals or courses.
If you are new to the world of wine it can all seem a bit daunting. Which wine do you drink when? Which wines are the best? What kind of wines will you like?
To make things a bit easier for you, we have put together this list of the 12 best wines for beginners.
Make your way through this list, trying each one, and you will get a much better understanding of which wines you enjoy. This will point you in the right direction on your wine journey.
How Is Wine Made
Wine is made from grapes that are grown in vineyards. Grapes are picked off the vines, crushed, and fermented into juice. The juice is then pressed to separate the grape skins, seeds, and pulp. It is then stored in tanks until it ferments.
During fermentation, the yeast eats away at the sugars in the juice, converting them into alcohol. After fermentation, the wine is filtered and bottled.
If a wine is sweet, there is still a lot of sugar left in the wine after the fermentation process. If a wine is dry then there is not much sugar left and it won't taste as sweet.
There are lots of different grape varieties that are used to make wine, and the combination of grapes used will affect the flavor profile of the wine.
The fermenting process and aging process also impact the flavor. For example, if the wine is aged in an oak barrel then more tannins will be released into the wine which gives it a different flavor.
The process of making wine can also result in different levels of acidity and body, giving the various types of wine a different feel in the mouth or a different finish on your palate. Wines also have different aromas which contribute to the tasting experience.
What Are The Different Types Of Wine
Red wines are usually made from dark-skinned grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel. These are often blended to give a richer flavor than they would have had individually. They are generally heavier bodied than other types of wine.
White wines are lighter-bodied than reds because they contain less color and more water. Most white wines are made from light-skinned grapes such as Riesling, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Muscatel.
Rosés are a type of white wine that contains some amount of pink coloring due to the presence of anthocyanin pigments.
They are sometimes referred to as blush wine or rosé champagne. Rosés are typically made using pinot noir, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, gamay, or muscat grapes.
Dessert wines are made from grapes that are high in sugar content. They are often served chilled with desserts. They are usually very low in alcohol and have a fruity aroma.
This is a type of wine that has been carbonated during the fermentation process. It is meant to be consumed right away rather than stored for later consumption.
Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice. It is usually clear, dry, and slightly sweet. It is traditionally served cold. It can also be used as an ingredient in cooking.
The Best Wines For Beginners
You should now have a better understanding of wine, how it is made, and the different types available. Let's take a look at 12 of the best wines for you to try as a beginner.
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
This is a great example of a German white wine. A lot of people assume that Riesling is always very sweet, but it comes in varying levels of sweetness. This one is slightly sweet, with an alcohol percentage of 8.5% which is ideal for beginners.
As you sip this wine you will pick up on the flavors of yellow apples, pears, peaches, and the tart sweetness of lemon curd. This might sound like it would be too sweet, but the finish is vibrant and refreshing with a good amount of acidity to balance it out.
This wine is very versatile and would work well with lots of different foods that call for a white wine pairing.
It goes particularly well with pork or cured meat, which is ideal if you want to pair a German wine with a German or European-style meal. It also complements shellfish, poultry, and spicy dishes.
Many people find that a slightly sweet Riesling is a great choice to serve with Vietnamese or Thai food.
This is an American red wine that is produced in the state of Oregon. It has an alcohol percentage of 12.5%. It is what people call an 'easy-drinking' wine - smooth with a well-balanced flavor.
This makes it ideal for beginners. It has a medium body and medium acidity with a bright flavor and a soft feel in the mouth.
The main tasting notes are fruity cherry and raspberry with decadent caramel and dark chocolate. There are also some savory elements in there that balance out the flavor and make it more complex.
It is in the middle of sweet and dry, so if you don't yet know what you like then this is a good place to start.
One of the interesting things about this wine is that it uses a process called whole cluster fermentation. This means that the grapes are not crushed when they are fermented, giving the wine a more vibrant taste.
When it comes to pairing this wine with a tasty meal, you will be pleasantly surprised at its versatility. You can serve it with grilled meats, BBQ-style food, or even spicy Asian cuisine.
This Malbec is a delicious red wine from Argentina with an alcohol percentage of 13%. It is great value for money, as it is always priced affordably but is very enjoyable.
Argentinian Malbecs are known for being very smooth and easy to drink with a velvety texture, which makes them a great choice for beginners.
Malbec has some similarities to Cabernet Sauvignon as it also has bold flavors of dark fruit, but the tannins tend to be softer.
The most prominent tasting notes are intense plum and blackberry, with rich tobacco and soft vanilla. It is earthy and fruity, with a warm spiced finish on the palate. A lot of people say that this wine has a very pleasing feel in your mouth.
Malbec often pairs well with meat, and this wine is no exception. It would complement any dish made with beef, lamb, chicken, or pork.
If you are interested in trying a red wine with a full body then this Cabernet Sauvignon from California, USA could be perfect for you.
The warm climate of the Paso Robles region in California is known for producing delicious wines that are very smooth, and this one is no exception. It has an alcohol percentage of 14.2%.
The strongest flavors that come through with this wine are the rich blackberry and blueberry fruits, followed by earthy cedar and a sweet cola finish. The tartness of the dark fruit is contrasted with notes of vanilla and some warm spice.
The wine is aged in oak which gives a little bit of smokiness, but the tannins do not overpower the flavor. It has a good structure, but with enough acidity to stop it from feeling too heavy.
This wine can stand up to strong meaty flavors and will accentuate the taste of beef, lamb, deer, or venison. You can also serve it with chicken.
This crisp white wine is made in New Zealand and has an alcohol percentage of 12.6%. You will pick up on passion fruit, lemon rind, pink grapefruit, and even fresh grass.
The flavors are unique and it has a strong aroma which heightens the tasting experience. Serve it alongside dishes of fresh vegetables, anything cooked with plenty of fresh green herbs, or even freshly shucked oysters.
This delightful wine is a sweet, sparkling rose. It is made in Northern Italy and has a low alcohol percentage of only 7%. The main tasting notes are red fruits like raspberry, red cherry, and strawberry.
It also has a floral element of rose petals which is very elegant. The color of the wine is a lovely cranberry reddish-pink, which looks very appealing in beautiful glasses.
This wine is made from the brachetto grape which has a fragrant floral aroma and a sweet taste of candied fruits. This is why it is perfect for making this sweet wine. This wine is a great choice for serving at parties, as the color and flavor feel very festive and fun.
Some people have found that this wine has some similarities to Muscato in terms of style, but the red berry flavors replace the notes of tropical and citrus fruits.
When it comes to pairing with food, the obvious choice would be to enjoy this wine alongside decadent desserts like rich chocolate mousse for a fruit tart.
However, it also goes nicely with a cheeseboard, or even with some spicy dishes as the sweetness cuts through the warmth.
Californian Chardonnay is very popular, and this wine is a great example of why. It has an alcohol percentage of 14.4% and a creamy finish. The rich flavors of apples, peaches, lychee, and sweet butterscotch some through.
The toasted butter element comes from the oak aging which softens the acidity of the wine. Pair this wine with strong fish like salmon or tuna, or with vegetarian dishes.
This Austrian Rose is made from the Zweigelt grape which is grown locally. This grape is brightly flavored but with a spicy edge of black pepper which is reminiscent of pinot noir grapes.
This makes this wine very interesting on the palate. It has an alcohol percentage of 11.5% and is quite dry.
The main tasting notes are of strawberries, peaches, raspberries, and even refreshing watermelon. A more experienced wine drinker might also be able to pick up pear and hibiscus.
All of this fruit might sound sweet, but the wine is acidic enough to create a balanced flavor. It is lovely when enjoyed on a warm day sitting by a pool or in a picturesque park with a delicious picnic.
The best food pairing with this wine is cheese, so next time you make a cheese board you should serve yourself a glass alongside. It is also well paired with chicken, or with any dishes that have an element of fruit in the sauce.
This is a bold red wine from California with an alcohol percentage of 14.7%. It is smooth yet full-bodied with intense flavors of plum, blackberry, sweet vanilla, and warm cinnamon.
People often say that it has a jammy taste to it like concentrated fruit. The American oak barrels add a richness which makes this wine an ideal choice to serve alongside the meat.
If you are looking for an affordably priced white wine that is going to taste wonderful then this is a great choice. It is made in the North of Portugal and has an alcohol percentage of 9%.
It is made from a blend of local grapes which results in a complex flavor palette of crisp green apples, zingy lemon and lime, and tangy grapefruit. The overall finish is refreshing, especially as it is not too alcoholic.
This wine is perfect for drinking slightly chilled on a warm day, preferably in the garden or sitting outside a restaurant.
When it comes to food pairings, the tart fruit is a perfect accompaniment for most types of seafood- the fresher the better! It is especially lovely with white fish or crab and is a good cooking wine for cockles or mussels.
This wine is also an excellent choice to serve alongside feta cheese, cream cheese, or goat's cheese. A warm goat salad would be ideal. If you like Asian cuisine then serve this wine with your favorite stir fry.
This French red wine is light-bodied and dry- much more refreshing than the other reds on this list. It has vibrant flavors of blueberries, strawberries, red cherries, cranberries, and pomegranate. This is the perfect wine to serve alongside a roast chicken dinner
This sparkling white wine is made in the Penedes region of Spain using muscat grapes combined with other local grapes. This is also where Cava is made, a sparkling white wine. It has an alcohol percentage of 10.5%.
The bubbles are not too much- smooth rather than energetic- which is great if you are a beginner when it comes to sparkling wine. It has a sweet aroma but is quite dry, although the sweet smell will make it easier for you to pick out the fruity flavors.
The main tasting notes are grapefruit and peach, with floral elements of honeysuckle and orange blossom.
This wine might not be as popular as other sparkling wines like Prosecco, but once people try it they keep coming back. The flavor is delightfully balanced yet surprisingly complex.
If you are planning to serve a charcuterie board or tapas then this wine would be ideal. It also goes well with seafood.
It can be quite overwhelming to decide what wines to try as a beginner, but this selection will provide you with a good range of styles. Test them out and see which ones are your favorite.