Wine novice drinker – Deciding to learn about wine could be exciting and perplexing for the beginner wine drinker. For some, learning about the subject is very natural, but others with more difficulty, they may need to start with lighter wines in order to get the hang up of the various flavours in those wines before moving forward. I always make the analogy of wine drinking to classical music appreciation. Generally speaking, Bach, Handel and Vivaldi are easier to understand for the neophyte listener rather than Beethoven or Berlioz, for instance.
It is obvious that every beginner will love a different style of wine. The path of wine appreciation will depend on the social and demographic characteristics of the wine drinker. For example, I started out drinking Italian wines because they were more familiar to me because of my Italian background. On the other hand, at that time, I was an undergraduate student and my economic situation did not permitted me to drink expensive wines.
At its basic core, all wine is really just fermented grape juice. What gives the wine its body, aroma and flavour characteristics depends on the blend of grapes, the winemaker style, and the aging. I recommend to the beginner wine drinker to stick with the simple, less complex wines so as not to overwhelm the taste buds. In my mind, these are wines that see little or no oak such as Pinot Grigio or Barbera.
Wine has many flavors, depending on their style. If you want to get an idea of the depth of wine flavors, I recommend consulting the wine aroma wheel from UC Davis. The Davis Wine Aroma Wheel is classified into several sections to help you visualize the different flavors, scents and aromatic qualities found in most red and white wines, regardless of the grape variety. The same aromatic complexities and sensations pictured on the wine aroma wheel are found in red and white wines all over the world, from Bordeaux, to California and the Rhone Valley, as well as every other viticultural area.
If you’ve ever heard someone talk about the “mouth feel” of a wine, they are referring to the viscosity, meaning, how heavy or light does the wine feel in your mouth. New wine lovers tend to enjoy wines that are light on the palate. Lighter bodied wines include Beaujolais Nouveau and Sauvignon Blanc
In addition, many neophyte wine drinkers favour wines with slightly more sweetness than most of dry wines. This doesn’t necessarily mean the wine needs to be sugary concoction, just not so dry it makes your mouth pucker. Winemakers create wines in a wide range of sweetness that depends on varietal, residual sugar, when the grapes are harvested, alcohol content, and types of grapes used. Sweetness ranges from dry reds and whites like Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay to very sweet dessert wines such as Sauternes or Tokaji. For many beginners, off-dry wines such as Moscato d’Asti and Pinot Noir are a great entree into wines.
Recommended white wines for beginners
It comes to a matter of personal taste whether or not you start your wine drinking experience with reds or whites, but generally, it’s recommended to begin with white wines. The reason for this is because white wines are lighter and easier on the palate than reds. Here are a some great suggestions:
Pinot Grigio: One of the most easiest white wines on the market, Pinot Grigio wines tend to be light and crisp, both in finish and flavor characteristics.
Moscato d’Asti: This slightly frizzy, off-dry wine from Italy is a delight. It has flavours of apricots and almonds, and offers a crispy sweet and juicy sip that tickles the nose as you drink it.
Riesling: This wine is known to have a myriad of styles from dry to very sweet, but is almost universally loved for its crisp citrus and mineral flavours, bright acidity, and light body.
Sauvignon Blanc: This is also a crisp, refreshing light bodied white with simple flavours that include kiwi and citrus. It’s also a wonderful during the spring and summer because it is so refreshing.
Recommended red wines for beginners
Just like the whites, you want to start out slowly with simple reds. Then, as your wine palate gains more experience, move on to more complex, full-bodied reds. Here are a few suggestions to start:
Pinot Noir: Light to medium bodied and super food friendly, it’s so easy to fall in love with a Pinot Noir even if you don’t call yourself a red wine enthusiast.
Syrah: Syrah and its Australian sibling, Shiraz, are one and the same. Australian Shirazs tend to be a bit on the bolder side while French syrahs is a bit more fruity and has subtle complex spice nuances.
Beaujolais Nouveau: This French wine is meant to be drunk young. It releases in November of every year and usually sells out before Christmas. The wine is fruity and light, without heavy tannins, making it a favorite for new wine drinkers
At the end of the day, wine is there for your enjoyment. Whether you begin your wine quest by taking some of my suggestions or decide to venture out on your own, try tasting a few different bottles of a certain type of red or white wine to really get a feel for it. Use the resources available to you, as well. Ask your SAQ outlet to recommend you a wine to try. He or she will surely have some suggestions you will love.
Wines of the week:
Château de Pocé Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2016 ( Loire Valley, France)
SAQ # 10689606 $14.40
Lemon, oregano oil, and cantaloupe sorbet on the nose complemented by wild tarragon. Crispy, delicate and harmonious with soft yellow fruit nuances ( passion fruit). Amazing food match with pizza with shrimps and cherry tomatoes.
Vina Cobos Felino Chardonnay 2016 ( Mendoza, Argentina)
SAQ # 11625727 $18.95
On the nose aromas that bring to mind frangipane cream with peach and bright citrus undertones. Round with a medium plus acidity. Flavors bring to mind, vanilla with mint and white chocolate undertones. Long aftertaste that recalls mango and papaya caramel. Perfect with poultry and pasta dishes.
Jean-Noël Bousquet Terre à Terre (Corbières, France) SAQ # 11374391 $9.35
Wild blackberries, black cherries with cassis and rosemary. On the mouth, rustic but quite tasty with comforting flavours of basil cream and mint. Fantastic deal for the price. Enjoy with grilled chicken sandwiches.
Disclaimer: The following wines were given as samples by their respective importers for review purposes in this article