If you’ve ever wondered about the fascination people have with red wine, it’s kind of like someone’s fascination with cigars or food. It’s a luxury item that quickly develops into a love of and an appreciation for. Even better is that red wine has been attributed to certain health benefits like lowering cholesterol and providing antioxidants which fight disease. Of course this goes only for drinking in moderation. But if you want to experience something truly exceptional, I suggest you begin your venture with a good red wine for beginners like Merlot.
Merlot is an easy to drink middle of the road red wine that is sometimes dry but is always fruity. It’s not a sweet red wine but it is a fruity red wine. What I mean by that is it’s not sugary, but you can easily detect fruit flavors in the wine. The movie Sideways made Merlot out to be a red wine for beginners shunned by pretentious snobs for a dryer Pinot Noir; but in actuality Merlot can be quite complex exhibiting bold fruit and dense character. It’s also a versatile food wine.
But there are plenty of wines out there that can provide a great first red wine for beginners. What I like about it is that it can go with almost any meal from a heavy filet Mignon to a sweet chocolaty dessert. Or you can enjoy it all by itself. There’s nothing to say it has to be served with food. On fact some of the bigger reds should not be served with food as they will merely mask the flavors of what you are eating.
You can find many reds that are made to go great with food like many Old World wines. Old World describes wine regions in Europe like France, Italy, Germany, Spain, etc. The wines in these regions are light bodied for the most part as they have been drunk alongside meals since the dawn of time and the winemakers here have honed their skills in food and wine pairing. Nothing goes better with a meal and makes you feel more at ease than a great bottle of red wine. There is an air of sophistication to it I have to admit, but that’s only because of the big red wine glasses it is served in. Swirling one of those bulbous wine glasses at a dimly lit table in a restaurant can make anybody feel a bit pompous. But it is fun and should be enjoyed that way.
How do you choose the right red wine? Well it helps to know a little about it first but how do you find out about something you’ve never had exposure to? The possibilities are endless really. For instance if you are at a restaurant, just ask your waitperson. They will certainly know what goes best with the dish you order. But if you are more into having red wine by itself then wine tastings are the best way to learn. Go to as many wine tasting events as you can. That’s the only true way to learn about red wine. Well, that and to just buy a bunch and see which one you like the best. The right red wine is the one that makes you smile after the first taste. You should only worry about making the right selection with food and wine pairing since it’s easy to upset the balance of each and overpower one or the other.
So let’s take a look at the more popular red wines that you will find in stores:
- Merlot: Merlot is great because it is a fruity but bold red wine, has slight tannins and works great as a stand-alone wine or with many dishes. It can be considered a “smooth” wine. Merlot works especially well with pasta/red sauce dishes and medium to heavy red meats.
- Cabernet Sauvignon: Cab is considered the king of red wines. Bold, heavy, tannic, Cabernets is a great candidate for a wine cellar as aging will help soften the tannins and smooth out an otherwise very dry wine. Characterized by notes of leather, chocolate and cigar box among others, Cabernet is a big red wine; definitely not a red wine for beginners. This is a steak wine or maybe a lamb chop wine.
- Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is an earthy wine somewhere between light- and medium-bodied. By earthy I mean you get aromas of wet leaves, barnyard, earthy scents. You won’t taste that stuff but you will definitely smell it. As with all red wine tastes vary according to the region is was grown and produced but typical of Pinot is black cherry. You can serve Pinot with some white meats like turkey.
- Shiraz: Shiraz is a spicy, herbal, smoky wine with dried fruit notes. I love Shiraz because it always pleases every crowd. It is a perfect wine for grilled food. Even grilled shrimp! But it is also a great wine by itself.
There are many more but these are the big four. Others include Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese, Gamay and the list goes on. You will be able to find the information you are looking for on these wines right here and there are notes on the red wine production process as well. But do what you can to go to as many wine tastings as possible while visiting this site. By the end of it you will have mastered red wine for beginners and will be able handle any red wine you try.