I was inspired by a friend of mine who recently told me that the only wine he drank was Moscato—and he had no idea where to go from there. I know it can be intimidating to look at the vast selection on the shelves, so it’s easy to fall back to the comfortable familiarity of purchasing your “usual” wine. I get it—stick to what works and you can never go wrong, right? I am guilty of it too—but push yourself a little! Maybe buy your familiar bottle and add a new one. If you end up not liking it—serve it to your guests when they drop by for a visit!
If you are not a drinker of alcohol, that doesn’t mean this is not for you—it would still be beneficial to know what wines are all about. Wine has tannins (phenolic compounds extracted from the skins, stems, and seeds of grapes) in it which means more antioxidants and research shows that a glass per day has health benefits. That’s right—wine can be healthy! Now, you may be a beginner or you may be “seasoned” with wine, but learn where you can and add your seasoned advice in the comments!
I’m going to tell you this in the order that I expanded my palate—which was relatively easy with patience and a trip to Napa Valley wine country for some education (I will do a travel blog on Napa soon)! *****Disclaimer—this is all my opinion, not based on fact or any how to guide.
For semi-beginners-- it was easiest for me to start with a sweet dessert wine like a Moscato or even something fruity like Sangria (white or red). After that you can ease into a Riesling or White Zinfandel which are also fairly sweet. But don’t get stuck in the sweet zone! Wine can be an acquired taste, and it requires you to try the same wine on more than one occasion. In fact it takes around 20 times for your taste buds to determine if you like a taste or not—so don’t give up too quickly!
Following Riesling, you may want to progress to a Gewürztraminer—a wine with what I like to call “spice” or you may want to go dryer and head in the direction of Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay and then a Sauvingnon Blanc. Following the popular whites, you are ready for a pinky toe dip into REDS.
Rose…may be a good transition to ease you into the vast pool of reds. Merlot is a good second…followed by Shiraz which is out of Australia and is considered the finest red wine grown there(it is also known as Syrah in the US). Next I would do a Pinot Noir, followed by a Cabernet Sauvignon. After you are finished with the basics of both WHITES and REDS--there are a plethora of other tasty wines to delve into—if you have tried some—please share! Occasionally I go to a wine tasting (there are free tastings/flights of wine every Friday around the corner) and I will be sure to share my favorites with years, and prices. Until then, here are some party friendly new releases, so cheers!
Murphy-Goode 2008 Chardonnay ($14). Smooth and supple, from cooler sites in California, with a mix of apple, pear, lemon and vanilla.
Murphy-Goode 2008 Pinot Noir ($14). Clean and varietal, with no "filler" grapes blended in to boost the color. Barrel-aged.
Boomtown 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15). A smooth and satiny cabernet, chocolaty, round and ripe red fruits with a streak of licorice.
Ciao Bella 2009 Pinot Grigio ($13). An easy-drinking, fresh white wine with grapefruit and pear flavors front and center.
Eliseo Silva 2007 Merlot ($10). Soft and easy-drinking, with plum and cherry fruit now at its peak.
Hyatt Vineyards 2008 Pinot Gris ($9). Crisp and full-bodied, with fresh pear and apple and white peach fruit flavors. The clever blend includes muscat, viognier and riesling.
Saviah Cellars 2008 The Jack Red Wine ($15). Mostly merlot, it's full-bodied and fruit forward, with hints of earth, herb and spice.
Silver Lake 2008 Roza Hills Vineyard Reserve Chardonnay ($12). Buttery and round, loaded with peaches and creamy vanilla flavors.
Vin du Lac 2008 Les Amis Riesling ($14). With muscat and gewürztraminer in the blend, it's fresh, fruity and slightly sweet; an all-purpose white wine to sip on the deck.
Washington Hills 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon ($10). Black cherry and cassis fruit anchors a wine with dark streaks of espresso, bitter chocolate and smoke.
Hope this helps!