As some of you know, Mrs. Tiedemann and I are deep into discussions on opening a small wine bar as a part of our LEX 530 Event Center. I am in the process of writing a full-blown business plan for the 530 Wine Bar project. A portion of the project includes researching wine bar customer analytics and what they drink. So far, my research indicates that the younger generations drink lots of other types of alcoholic beverages besides wine such as hard cider, craft beers and non-alcoholic drinks.
The research made me think about my early days of wine drinking some 25 to 30 years ago. My favorite wines way back then were Chablis and Chardonnay. I remember that all my friends drank red wines and got mad at me because I did not drink reds. Today I have a great team of younger folks working for me, which gives me an opportunity to learn about their drinking habits.
They all started drinking sweeter white wines and over the years have gradually moved toward Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Sparkling wines and Rosés. They have changed their wine preferences on their own as they got older. In thinking about this progression, it gave me the desire to research and write this blog on “Wine for Beginners.” I think it is good for all of us to go back and review some of these topics we are going to discuss today.
Getting Started with Wine
There really is not one single wine I can think of that every beginner will love. I also think this is true for seasoned wine drinkers. We all have our favorites, but we all have wines we don’t like, as well. In my own case, I like many white wines, some better than others, but my wine preference is for full-bodied red wines.
Palate Training & Wine Tasting
Learning to taste wine isn’t any different than learning to appreciate good music or art. The more effort you put in, the more pleasure you will gain. Your nose is the key to your palate. Once you learn to smell wine and isolate its flavors and identify them and how they interact, you’ll begin to enjoy wine more because you’ll understand what makes wine taste better.
What gives wine its body, aroma and flavor depend on the blend of grapes, the vintner’s technique in blending and how the wine is stored while it is aging. For example, wines stored in stainless steel tanks age differently than wine stored in oak barrels.
What is the Difference Between Wines?
You may think that asking the question of “what’s the difference between red and white wine?” is silly. One is red and one is white, correct? That’s true, but it goes a little deeper than that. It’s worthwhile for us to understand why they can be different colors AND taste so different. The reason is, in both cases, the skins of the grapes and the tannins.
What are tannins? Tannins are a natural substance in grapes and other fruits. The taste of tannins is described as bitter. This bitterness can cause a wine to give you a dry and puckered feeling in your mouth when you drink it.
Tannins end up in wine when the winemakers allow the skins of the grapes to stay in the grape juice (called must or young-wine) as it ferments. This process is called maceration. Extended maceration is when the skin and seeds of the grapes are left in contact with the juice or wine for a longer period of time. Extended maceration increases the color, flavor and tannin structure of the wine. Beginning wine drinkers tend to enjoy wines that are lighter on the palate…usually not wines that have had extended maceration.
Tannin really is the backbone of red wine. A tannic wine will be bitter, firm and maybe a little leathery. Tannin also gives red wine texture, making it feel smooth and soft, or rough and chewy. Generally the rule is: the darker the wine, the higher the tannin level and the bolder the taste.
White wine has tannin but not enough to have a huge impact. White wines have acidity. The acidity makes white wines crisp or tart. If there isn’t enough acidity, the wine will taste flat.
White Wines I Recommend for Beginners
It really is a matter of personal taste whether you begin drinking either red or white wines. Generally, I think it is best to start with white wines (as I did some 30 years ago) as they are lighter bodied and easier on the palate than many reds. Here are some white wines I would recommend:
- Prosecco (dry)
- Sparkling Wines (ranges from sweet to dry)
- Moscato d’Asti (mildly sweet to sweet)
- Pinot Grigio (ranges from sweet to dry)
- Riesling (ranges from sweet to dry)
- Sauvignon Blanc (ranges from sweet to dry)
- Chardonnay (dry – Some are oaky; some are aged in stainless and have little or no oakiness)
- White Zinfandel (light to sweet)
- Chablis (dry)
- Viognier (dry)
Red Wines I Recommend for Beginners
Just like with white wines, you’ll want to start with simple reds. Here are some I recommend:
- Pinot Noir (light-bodied)
- Syrah (full-bodied)
- Garnacha/Grenache (medium-bodied)
- Petite Sirah (full-bodied)
- Merlot (medium-bodied)
- Lambrusco (light-bodied)
- Cabernet Sauvignon (full-bodied)
What wine you like and drink is up to your personal taste. Wine is there for your enjoyment. Whether you try one of the wines I recommend or venture out on your own, try tasting different reds and whites to get a feel for what you really enjoy. I also recommend you start with light-bodied wines and then work your way up to more full-bodied wines.
As always, I appreciate your support of our wine blog and encourage you to share it with family and friends. If you are reading this blog for the first time please consider subscribing while you are on the website. This way you’ll get our reviews and articles delivered to you for free in your email box. If you care to share your comments on this blog posting or other topics please do so in the comments section below.
Look Forward To These Happy Things:
Upcoming LEX 530 Events!
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Wednesday, May 20, 2020 — CANCELLED
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, June 26, 2020 — We are planning for this!
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Wednesday, July 22, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, August 21, 2020
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, September 25, 2020
Oktoberfest Dinner – Tuesday, October 27, 2020 — with Elkhart’s Iechyd Da Brewing Company
LEX 530 Wine & Dinner Club Dinner – Friday, November 20, 2020
Important Wine Holidays
May 21 – International Chardonnay Day
May 25 – National Wine Day
June 26 – International Rosé Day
June 21 – Lambrusco Day
August 1-5 – International Albariño Days
August 4 – National White Wine Day
August 18 – International Pinot Noir Day
September 3 – International Cabernet Day