Wine is all about personal taste and choice of aromas and textures. Many people will prefer to drink a white wine because it is lighter than the red one. For all of you that are looking for a good starter red wine you need to begin by searching for a wine that has lower tannin levels.
Tannins are the primary culprit for a wine’s bitterness. Red wines have at least medium tannin levels and it rises all the way to some of the harshest wines. So, why aren’t white wines as tannic as red ones? To answer this question we need to go back to the production stage of wine.
After the grapes are harvested and crushed into juice, the red wine juice is left to ferment along with the grape skin. Tannins lie in the grape skin and because white wines are produced from juice that has no stems and skins in it, their bitterness is much more subtle than the one of red wines.
So let’s start by clarifying a few issues when starting to drink red wine. First of all, there is no point in buying expensive wines right from the beginning. I am not saying you should buy wine that is sold in plastic bottles but you should start with cheaper wines and work your way to the more expensive ones.
The reason I say this is that expensive wines will have a more complex range of aromas and you won’t be able to appreciate them fully. Cheaper wines tend to be more straightforward and won’t overwhelm your palate; although there have been cases of inexpensive wines that truly amazed me with their quality.
Also, you will want to experiment for a while until you will find a red wine that suits your taste. Buying wines that are set in a price range of $10 to $15 will allow you to observe the major differences between varietals without having to pay top dollar for the bang.
But before you go to the store and start doing laps around wine racks without having a clue about any of the names displayed, I will give you an introduction to some of the popular varietals your taste buds might fancy.
The silky Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is one of my favorite wines because it is very smooth. The flavors in this wine are delivered very gently; hence I think everybody should try a Pinot if it is their first red wine. It will give you a hint of just how complex red wines can be, without being too loud.
It has a good acidity, just enough to feel it on your tongue but not overwhelm your senses. Its texture that can only be described as silky as it flows in your mouth with ease. It will finish delicately and will leave you with aromas of cherry and mushrooms.
Cabernet Sauvignons are the tannic titans
I think everybody heard about Cabernet Sauvignon. This grape varietal has spread all over the world because it makes a very rich red wine. It is an important starter red wine that you should try because it will give you a glimpse of just how powerful and intense red wines can become.
Try and search for a wine that is a bit more expensive. Bottles that reach scores of over $20 should amaze you with their majestic structure and complexity. You should feel the aromas of blackcurrant and even cigar if you go for an aged wine. But it can be a little overwhelming because of its high tannin content.
Merlots will give you a multitude of experiences
Merlot is another wine that has two or more sides to it. In its inexpensive form (about $10 a bottle) it is a basic red wine without any real character. Here you can perform a little experiment. You can buy two Merlot bottles, one cheap and one more expensive; a $20 California Merlot should do the trick. Now simply taste the cheap one and after the taste has dissipated take a sip from the other one.
From this experience you should understand that even the same grapes can produce very different red wines. In its top form, the Merlot is as deep as the Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a good starter red wine because it has good fruity flavors and less tannin.
Adding some spiciness in the picture with the Shiraz
But if you want to go full on and find out just how wild red wines can get, then the Shiraz (or Syrah) is an excellent example of a dramatic red wine. Aromas vary widely, going from flavors of wild berries and chocolate to black pepper.
It is often characterized as spicy and will play with your senses quite a lot. One of the best things about these wines is that they have a modest price tag. You can get a good Australian Shiraz for around $15. If this is your first contact with red wines try not to overdo it. You might lose you interest for some of the smoother red wines that are in no way less special, but will seem less demanding on you.
The most important part about selecting a good starter red wine is that you enjoy the experience. What’s the point of feeling all those layers of aromas if at the end you don’t enjoy it? Luckily, we barely scratched the surface as far as variety goes and it is nearly impossible not to find a red wine that will delight your senses.
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