The best wine for beginners: White Wines & Red Wines To Try

Recommending the best wine for beginners is a fun challenge because there are many options.

Beginner wine drinkers can save time by focusing their wine journey on French wine because this type of wine has almost everything you might desire. This guide will also touch on other options for wine enthusiasts, including American options like the well-known Napa Valley.

The best wine for beginners

The best wine for beginners: white wines

Unlike seasoned wine drinkers, the cost is often a concern for the wine beginner. These inexpensive wines have been found for under $50. Many whites tend to be lighter wines (in contrast to a full-bodied wine like Cabernet Sauvignon). In general, easy-drinking wines tend to be popular wines for beginners.

Try both varietal wines (i.e., those made from a single grape variety) and blends to see which distinctive flavor you prefer.

Domaine Huet Vouvray Sec “Le Mont” (Chenin Blanc):

  • Alcohol Content: Typically, around 13%
  • Sugar Content: Dry wine with minimal residual sugar

This bottle of wine from the Loire Valley, France, showcases the versatility of Chenin Blanc. This style of wine offers notes of ripe apple, honey, and white flowers, with a mineral-driven palate.

Tablas Creek Vineyard “Patelin de Tablas Blanc” (Grenache Blanc):

  • Alcohol Level: Around 13.5%
  • Sugar Content: Dry wine with little to no residual sugar

Produced in California (Paso Robles wine region), this Rhône-style blend features Grenache Blanc as the primary grape. It exhibits flavors of citrus, tropical fruits, and white flowers with vibrant acidity.

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc (White Wine Drinkers’ Popular Choice):

  • Alcohol Level: Typically around 13%
  • Sugar Content: Dry wine with minimal residual sugar

Hailing from Marlborough, New Zealand, this Sauvignon Blanc has gained popularity among white wine lovers. It offers vibrant acidity and herbal notes. The fruity notes include passion fruit.

Flowers Chardonnay (Oaked Chardonnay):

  • Alcohol Level: Around 14%
  • Sugar Content: Dry wine with minimal residual sugar

This Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is known for its elegant oak treatment. It displays flavors of ripe apple, pear, vanilla, and a creamy texture, with balanced acidity.

Trimbach Riesling:

  • Alcohol Level: Typically around 12.5%
  • Sugar Content: Dry wine with minimal residual sugar

Produced in Alsace, France, this Riesling exemplifies the characteristics of the white wine grapes. It showcases crisp acidity, green apple, citrus, and floral aromas.

E. Guigal Condrieu:

  • Alcohol Level: Typically around 13.5%
  • Sugar Content: Dry wine with minimal residual sugar

Hailing from the Northern Rhône Valley, France, this Viognier offers a rich and aromatic profile. It presents apricot, peach, honeysuckle, and tropical fruit flavors.

Red Wines

As a wine beginner, I recommend choosing low-tannin red wines. Lower tannin levels are an excellent choice because it means a less bitter taste. Instead, you can more easily enjoy other flavor characteristics. Y

There are many grape varieties to consider when it comes to beginner-friendly red wines. In this section, we will focus on three grape varieties: Gamay, Merlot, and Zinfandel. We will explore the range of styles, sweetness levels, food pairings, and flavor notes for each grape variety, highlighting examples from the Alexander Valley, Barossa Valley, and France.


Gamay is an underrated grape variety from the Beaujolais region in France. It is known for producing light-bodied and fruit-forward wines that are easy to drink and approachable for beginners. Gamay wines typically exhibit raspberry, cherry, and red fruit notes, with a refreshing acidity that makes them perfect for summer sipping.

In the Alexander Valley, California, producers such as Robert Sinskey Vineyards offer a Gamay Noir that is elegant and fruity, with bright acidity and soft tannins. In France, Domaine Chignard’s Fleurie Gamay is another excellent example of a beginner-friendly red wine with aromas of violet and red fruit and a silky smooth texture.


Merlot is a widely recognized black grape variety that produces medium-bodied and fruit-forward wines. It is an excellent choice for beginners due to its softer tannins and approachable taste. Merlot wines often exhibit notes of plum, black cherry, and blackberry, with a smooth and easy-drinking profile that makes them a popular choice for everyday consumption.

In the Barossa Valley, Australia, producers such as Penfolds offer a full-bodied and rich Merlot with flavors of dark fruit and a hint of chocolate. In the Alexander Valley, producers like Alexander Valley Vineyards offer an approachable and easy-to-discover Merlot with notes of black cherry and vanilla.


Zinfandel is a black grape variety known for its bold and fruit-forward wines. For people who prefer a slightly sweeter wine, Zinfandel is the best wine for beginners. However, Zinfandel wines can exhibit a range of sweetness levels, from bone-dry to slightly sweet. Zinfandel wines often exhibit notes of blackberry, raspberry, and other dark fruit flavors, with a hint of spice.

In the Barossa Valley, Australia, producers such as Peter Lehmann offer a full-bodied and rich Zinfandel with flavors of dark fruit and a touch of vanilla. In the Alexander Valley, producers like Seghesio Family Vineyards offer a fruity and approachable Zinfandel with a hint of spice.

In conclusion, Gamay, Merlot, and Zinfandel are three great grape varieties for beginners. Gamay wines offer light and refreshing flavors of red fruit, while Merlot wines are smooth and easy to drink, with notes of plum and black cherry. Zinfandel wines are bold and fruity, with a range of sweetness levels and dark fruit and spice notes. No matter which grape variety you choose, there are plenty of beginner-friendly red wines to explore, from the Alexander Valley to the Barossa Valley to France. These wines pair well with various foods and offer a balanced taste profile to please even the most discerning palate.

Other Popular Varieties To Try

The red and white wines highlighted above are just the start of finding the best wine for beginners. There are many other delicious wines like Rosé, ice, and pink. To discover additional types of wine, check out some of the other guides I’ve published:

Malbec vs Cabernet Sauvignon

Malbec is a popular red wine in South America. Please find out how it compares to a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon.

Merlot vs Shiraz

Shiraz wine, known as Syrah in Europe, is growing in popularity. Find out how it compares to Merlot.

Moscato d’Asti vs Champagne

The Best Wine For Beginners – What To Drink Next

After a few months or a year into your wine journey, you’ll probably start curious about what’s next. In my case, I took a few wine courses at George Brown College in Toronto, started reading books, and started this website. There is another path if wine school isn’t appealing to you – choose a type of wine and start to explore it.

For example, you might explore a style of wine like full-bodied red wine. Or you might take a month and try four different bottles of Pinot Noir.

The best wine for beginners: White Wines & Red Wines To Try

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