Wine Talk

Snooth User: tburn1014


Posted by tburn1014, Feb 5, 2014.

I would love a suggestion of a great red and white wine for a beginner (literally brand new)!! I've read online that Rieslings are a great option for white and perhaps a Zinfandel for a red. Please advise. 

Thank you soooo much!



Reply by mprince676, Feb 5, 2014.

Hello WV,

Not sure if Rieslings are a good place to launch since they have quite a range of styles, but Zin is a pretty consistently safe red.

I fell in lust years ago with El Dorado County zins but they aren't quite as easy to find as Napa/Sonoma old vine versions.

Good luck with the journey.


Reply by zufrieden, Feb 5, 2014.

For whites, there is a huge variety as already pointed out.  If you like fruit expression with a wide variety of styles, Riesling is a good place to explore.  But be warned: Riesling is a fickle grape in that  there are many styles (mostly all great).

I would suggest, if truly virginal, to choose 3 whites and 3 reds.

Use the French as your guide to begin with -without suggesting that France is the place you will end up (like me). Try Burgundy varieties (Pinot Noir, Gamay) for medium weight, then move on to Bordeaux (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and some lesser varieties like Petit Verdot).  Finally, look to the Rhone and Provence for Syrah and Grenache.

For whites, look to Chardonnay (varied in style to the extent that generalizations are difficult), then to Riesling.  You will find with Riesling that Mosel style is sweeter and the Rheingau less so.

Try these styles from the USA or other sources that do not necessarily include France.  Just be warned that New World (where we are) is not the same as the Old Country.

If only two grapes are chosen, go with Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon which would stand for white and red respectively.  The reason for this choice is simply the amount of wine made from these grapes in North America.

Have fun.




Reply by jescobio, Feb 5, 2014.

Funny intro.  I would differ a bit from the responses above.  Not because they are wrong but wine is a personal thing and what you personally love.

As a new wine drinker I would start with either a Pinot Noir, probably Sonoma County.  Easy on the tannins and enjoyable.  Light for a red.  If you are feeling a little more daring and you think your taste buds can handle a little extra I would jump into a Cotes De Rhone.  Cant go wrong with that.  Stick to a mid range on price dont go nuts... 

Have Fun.


Reply by dvogler, Feb 5, 2014.

A good place to begin would be at a well-stocked wine shop (or liquor store).

Do you have many near you?  I don't mean a little corner store that has a few bottles of Mateus or Hochtaler.  A place that will have at least a few aisles of wine, separated by either country of origin or by grape.  If there is such a place near you, chances are there is someone there that will have enough knowledge to get you started.  Once you try a few, come back and tell us what you think of what you tried. Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong.  Sure, we all have opinions and favourites...but what you like is all that matters.

Have fun!

Reply by dvogler, Feb 5, 2014.

God took the words right out of my mouth!

Reply by GregT, Feb 5, 2014.

Tburn - you have to offer a bit more. For a newcomer, it's enough to distinguish between red and white, but in actuality, it's a lot more complicated. Compare wine to say, TV. It would be like asking for a good comedy and a good drama. They're all over the map!

So maybe if you mention a few things that you really do like about pretty much ANY wine you've ever had. Some wine has a lot of fruit that's really apparent. Some is slightly sweet. Some is astringent and mouth-puckering.

As you probably know, they ferment the grape sugars into alcohol, so if you look at the labels of wine, sometimes it's in super tiny print hidden on the border, there will be an alcohol level. If it says something like 14.5 or 15%, that means the grapes were really ripe when picked and the wine is likely to have lots of big fruit. If the number is say, in the 13s, it means maybe more acidity and less jammy fruit. These are gross generalizations of course. And in the case of Riesling, if you see a number that's like 10% or less, you will likely encounter a bit of sweetness in the wine because that means all the sugar hasn't become alcohol.

Then in the US, we tend to drink a particular varietyof grape whereas elsewhere the variety isn't so important. So you hear people say things like "I like Rioja and Cabernet." Which is like saying "I like hot dogs and Cleveland." It makes no sense.

Zinfandel can come in a number of different styles. As a general rule, it's rather fruity, but again, that depends on the producer. Pinot Noir seems to come in riper vs less ripe styles, but it's always distinguishable as Pinot Noir. If you like Welch's grape juice, you'll like Pinot Noir. Merlot is usually something you can distinguish as well. Syrah takes on many different disguises, so it's harder to generalize.

And then there are hundreds of grape varieties that they don't grow in California, but that merit attention.

So my suggestion is to go to a local wine store, describe some flavors you like, and try some wines. Then report back here about what you liked and didn't like and see what you get. Otherwise you'll get a lot of random suggestions to drink this or that and it will simply be noise.

Good luck!

Anyhow, welcome.

Reply by TomGreen, Feb 24, 2014.

Rieslings are good one, but you should try with something more straight that's for sure

Reply by tburn1014, Feb 24, 2014.

Thanks for the tips.



I like fruity. Honestly, I haven't had much wine. I think Yellowtail had a rose called Pink at some point (All I remember is it was pink and it had that Kangaroo on the label) and I liked it ok. I am not partial, at this point, to the heavy alcohol taste. I'm not looking for sweet necessarily, just something with great flavor and no burn to begin with while I attempt to develop my palate. Does that give you more to go on? 

When I say virgin, I almost mean it literally! I bought a Merlot about two years ago, though I do not remember the name, but it was awful!! I found it to be very bitter and it finished with a very strong burn. I couldn't handle it so I dumped it out. That turned me away from wine for a long time. So now I'm trying to get serious about it and that's why I'm asking experts! 

I'm between Utah and Wyoming and the liquor stores in this area that I have encountered haven't been able to give me much direction. The liquors laws in Utah (specifically) are ridiculous! It's pretty much taboo to speak much about drinking in most circles here. 

Thanks again everyone!



Reply by edwilley3, Feb 24, 2014.

I don't know that there is any one *best* place to start. I would simply suggest staying away from the giant, expensive reds like 100% cabs over, say, $50 a bottle or things like a Peter Michael Les Pavots or a big Verita Bordeaux-style blend. Those are wines requiring major decanting, appropriate glassware, and ideally some experience on the palate. 

You should realize also that it's possible for a bottle you had and didn't really enjoy to be in one of the following categories:

  1. Something you should have decanted but didn't 
  2. Something that probably tasted ok, but your palate was off after _____ food you ate earlier (this happens more often than people will admit)
  3. Something you should not have paired with the food (e.g. super light white with Chateaubriand)
  4. Something that is decent, but you just happened on a flawed bottle.

If you first try a wine and decide you don't like it, remember that other wines of the same varietal or from the same area could be different. In Chardonnay for example the range of styles just in California is vast. Then compare to France or South America. 

I look at wine as one of areas in life where a person has almost limitless room to grow, bounded of course by one's budget. Plus, it's fun to explore with friends. Just get a group of friends or acquaintances and share some bottles. Try making some notes about what you liked and don't like. Then read a bit about what you did like. See who made it and learn about their techniques. Do they try to do something different? Are there other winemakers who take a similar approach? Before long you will be immersed. 

Have fun!

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