Like many women, I enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Especially now and, like many women, I suspect, I can get intimidated by everything I don’t understand about wine. After grabbing my favorite $10 red blend for the umpteenth time, I wondered what I was missing by not branching out more in my wine selection. I didn’t know where to start so I asked a few wine experts to teach me Wine 101: the basics that every wine drinker should know.
And even though it is harder to get out the good news is there are many wine delivery services, so here’s a little guide to help before you order:
First, Ditch the Wine Snobbery
Walking into the liquor store, I feel overwhelmed, because I know essentially nothing about what makes a good wine. I know I like that $10 red blend, but I can’t verbalize why. Gerri-Lynn Becker, president of The California Wine Club, says not to worry too much about the why.
“Wine should be fun and the only person who is ‘right’ about the wine is the person enjoying it,” she says. “If you like it – then it’s a great wine.”
Relax and have fun experimenting with different wines, says Laurie Forster, author of The Sipping Point A Crash Course in Wine.
“Take the notion that you need to know a ton about wine off the table,” she says. “I think it’s this stress that makes many wine drinkers insecure and hesitant to ask more questions, which is how we learn.”
The Basic Varieties
I regularly return to my favorite blend because it seemed like a safe bet: I didn’t understand the particular varieties of wine, so let’s just get something that mixes them together. So, I asked my wine pros for a primary on the most common types of wine.
The most popular red wine, it’s described as full-bodied, which means it has a sensation of weight or texture that lingers in the mouth. It often has hints of fruity tastes, and pairs well with red meat and hard cheeses.
The most popular white wine can have a variety of tastes. American chardonnays are buttery and oaky, while French chardonnays are crisper and fruitier. Chardonnay pairs well with fish.
These are crisp white wines that often have a citrus flavor to them. Since they’re light, they paid well with salads and seafood.
This red wine is a safe, middle-of-the road bet that pairs well with almost anything. “If you are unsure what is on the menu, or unsure what wine to bring, bring a Pinot Noir,” says Becker.
Blends and Boxes
Blends, which are made with a combination of different types of grapes, have been growing in popularity in recent years. They make the selection process simple, since you only have to choose red or white, then delight in the combination that the winemaker has created.
“A blend is the winemaker’s true expression of his art,” Becker says. “Blends are always fun and always an adventure.”
Box wines, once reserved for broke college students, are also having a revival.
“They are very good and nothing like the boxed wines of years ago,” Forster says. Boxes are great because they’re environmentally friendly and economical, she says. A box, once opened, is good for up to four weeks. If you want to get fancy, just transfer the wine out of the box before serving.
“Throw it in a wine decanter and call it your house wine,” Forster says.
Whatever type of wine you’re trying, just remember to enjoy it.
“Enjoyment of a wine comes down to knowing what you like or what I call trusting your own taste,” Forster says.