While it can seem confusing for the nouveau wine drinker, choosing some of the best wines for novices will turn you from a winey wimp to a wine lover! The most important thing to remember is that a good wine is simply one you like. Do you want a wine that reminds you of your favorite hard candy? Do you prefer fizzy pink bubbles because the color makes you smile? Did you buy your last bottle because the name on the label reminded you of your last vacation? Fine! The best wines for novices are ones that take your breath away while they whet your whistle.
This fizzy delight has been in the pop culture news these days, as celebrities are discovering the easy drinkability of this delicate yet aromatic, well, fruit bomb. Stone fruits often takes the center stage with this Italian original, as essence of peach and apricot steal the show. Its versatility is well-known, as your new best vino friend can keep you company with appetizers, desserts, or Wednesday. If you prefer the fruit to be more of a wallflower, stick it in the fridge for a few hours and tell it to chill out. That gives the other players like Floral Essence and Spicy Note time to shine. Either way, Moscato is one of my favorite wines for novices.
What’s better than a grape to make a beautiful wine? How about three or four grapes? The hybrid method of taking the best of what each grape has to say and creating a conversation in your glass is genius. One of my favorite red combinations is Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre. I like to think of it this way: Grenache is the backbone of the guy that helps him to think he has a chance with you, Mourvedre is the boldness that gets him up off his chair to walk over to you, and Syrah is the smooth-talking that ends the conversation with your phone number in his pocket. Call him GSM and impress your friends.
Some say that the granddaddy of all wine regions lies in France, others say Italy. I choose to stay out of this fight, because whoever comes out on top, we all win. I will say that with my discovery of Orvieto, I began to see Italian wines in a whole new white. I mean light. Instead of just the whomp you on your head reds many Italian regions are known for, Orvieto is the self-assured underdog who knew its day would eventually come. Named after the region where it’s primarily grown, Orvieto is made of a blend of grapes including mostly Trebbiano with a smattering of Grecchetto, etc. It is usually on the drier side, with a whisper of fruit and sometimes grassy pear (you’ll get it as soon as you taste it). This is a wine that makes you want to start singing Al di La.
There are few more lovely syllables to almost any wine drinker than Pinot Noir. Red or white prejudices pass away when this bottle is on the table. The delicate grapes leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a ‘what you see is what you get’ wine. Lighter in color, softer in fragrance, silky on your palate, this is the true nectar of the gods. Pinot Noir grapes are grown by those of the most patient and resilient of natures. While the fruit is subdued, it makes you work to taste it. Very few regions in the world grow an A-class Pinot. Yes, burgundy, but in all honesty, my favorite Pinot Noirs come from (drumroll…) Oregon! When you want to get someone a bottle of wine and are just not sure which one, go for an Oregonian Pinot Noir and you will be the Heroine of their dinner.
We could talk for a day and a half just about the different types of Rieslings, and their proper pairings. Rieslings are the chameleons of the wine world. It can be sparkling or not. Sweet, or not. Full-bodied or not. Grown in Germany, or not. Inside of each of these descriptions is a thousand more, too. One of my favorite Rieslings is from France. I know, Pinots from the Pacific Northwest, and now this?!? If you’re looking for a white that a red drinker can also appreciate, this is the way to go. Imagine a hint of tropical fruit to pair with a spicy pad Thai? Or a super-sweet dessert Riesling paired with a crème Brule? For whatever your mood is, Riesling has the answer.
This is the Whomp factor in 3-d living color. This is the rock and roll of the wine culture. The blend that refuses to be labeled or follow the rules. In short, when the powers that be decided that grape growers in Italy must follow certain rules for their grapes to receive certain denominations, the independent farmers and winemakers said "Arrivederci." They wanted to make the wines they chose, with the blends they liked, and call them what they desired. The result was a whole new way to make a grape a beautiful thing. While this is not a cheap one, if you are looking for a special occasion wine, run to your local sommelier immediately.
This is your chance to get on the ground floor of what I predict will be a hot new wine in the coming years. Ok, fine. It’s Bordeaux. A rich red, plummy, dry mouthful. But it sounds new and interesting doesn’t it? And as the billion plus wine label making industry will tell you, image isn’t everything, but it’s something. Bordeaux slash Claret wines are often lost in the mix whilst the winos among us look for the more sensual, shocking, or trendy labels. But this is a solid, dependable, lovely concoction. We all need a go-to, whether it’s a friend, sweater, or TV show. Let this red be yours.
Have you discovered a new wine to share? What’s the best advice you could give someone just starting on the wine journey? There are thousands of wines in the world these days, but the best wines for novices are the ones you can sip slowly over good conversation with great friends.
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