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What is the best wine for beginners?

Erin O'Reilly - Certified Specialist of Wine

The best wine for first timers will be a friendly, fruit-forward sipper that showcases the beauty of wine without overwhelming the drinker. Ultimately, the goal is to start with approachable bottles and move towards more complex wines that have nuanced personalities. Knowing that everyone starts somewhere, here are a few guidelines to point you in the right direction.

German Riesling

Lower Alcohol Wines

Look for wines with lower alcohol levels. Try to keep it under 14% ABV. High levels of alcohol can create a burning sensation in your mouth, and also end on a bitter finish after you swallow the wine that can be unpleasant. This can be a turn-off to newer wine drinkers, especially if you are sipping the wine like a cocktail and not pairing it with a meal. Beginner wine should be lower in alcohol.

Fruit-forward Wines

Wine is all about showcasing fruit. The grapes transform themselves in your glass offering up a rich bouquet of tree fruit, tropical fruit, floral notes, and maybe even hints of herbs and spices depending on the grape and wine style. The fruit makes the wine. The best first wine will be a fruit-forward wine, so you'll want to find wines that really showcase the fruit.

What Is the Best Red Wine for a Beginner? Red wines with Softer Tannins

Wine tannin comes from the seeds, skins and sometimes even the grape stems and gets extracted during the winemaking process. Tannins create texture in your mouth by adding grippy-ness to red wine (most white wines don’t have tannin or very minimal tannin). Some wine grapes have significantly more tannin than others. Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, has notoriously high levels of tannin. Powerful tannin levels can be a sensory shock to new wine drinkers, like having sandpaper in your mouth, so the best beginner red wine will have softer tannins.

What is a good beginner wine? Check out any of the following:

  • Merlot: Merlot is a red wine with soft tannins and a rich, dark plum fruit profile.

  • Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir can come in a range of styles, but generally has lighter levels of tannin and juicy red cherry, cranberry, raspberry, and sometimes spice notes from oak. Pinot is a great red wine for first time wine drinkers.

  • Riesling: Riesling is an aromatic white wine with lower alcohol that offers up a perfume of citrus notes, tropical aromas, and sometimes even honey notes.

  • Pinot Grigio: Pinot Grigio is a fun, friendly wine and an easy sipper. Crisp orchard fruits and a light body make this a good cocktail wine making it a good first wine to try.

  • Rosé: Rosé wines are made from red grapes that have the briefest of contact with their red skins to make a pale pink wine. In general, these are lighter alcohol wines that are made to be easy drinkers and uncomplicated companions making it one of the best wines for first timers.

Wine bottles with price tags

Reasonably Priced

Beginner wine shouldn’t give you sticker shock, so stick with wines that are reasonably priced. The $10-$25 dollar range will give you a solid quality-for-price wine experience. Nothing is more disheartening than spending a considerable sum on new experience, only to find out that you really don't enjoy what you're drinking. You don't want to discourage yourself from going out and trying a different bottle of wine if the first one was a flop for your particular taste preferences.

Parting Advice

Every wine is different. Every grape is different. Every winemaker will craft distinct wines with their grapes. Keep an open mind as you go out and explore different bottles and different labels. The only way you’ll discover your personal preferences is to pop open those bottles and start sipping!

One great way to discover new wines is by joining a wine of the month club! With different varietals coming to your doorstep each month, it is perfect for new and experienced wine drinkers alike! Browse our 6 wine clubs and see if any of them are right for you!