Updated: Sep 24, 2022
If you are a beginner at drinking wine, I recommend becoming familiar with the 8 basic wine varieties (found in the United States) before going shopping. This will help you narrow down which wines you’ll need and save you time at the store.
The 8 Basic Wine Varieties:
Riesling: often sweet and fruity
Food Pairing: by itself, spicy foods
Sauvignon Blanc: light, slightly acidic, crisp
Food Pairing: seafood and salads
Chardonnay: rich and creamy, buttery
Food Pairing: grilled veggies and chicken
Rosé : ultra-dry to super sweet; light red wine body but with brighter and crisper refreshing notes, fruity
Food Pairing: pizza, spicy foods, salad
Pinot Noir: light-bodied wine has a silky texture rather than tannic (tannins leave a dry, fuzzy feeling similar to when you bite the skin off of a grape)
Food Pairing: anything, salmon, vegetarian dishes
Red Blend: medium bodied wine, velvety, fruit forward
Food Pairing: anything, cheeseburgers, chicken
Merlot: medium-bodied wine, often described as jammy and a cherry or plum taste
Food Pairing: pasta, red meat dishes
Cabernet Sauvignon: big and bold wine, rich, velvety texture and lots of tannins
Food Pairing: strong cheeses, steak
Now that you’re familiar with your ideal wine variety, you’re now ready to shop for wine at the store. Read below!
Shopping for Wine at The Store
The best way to find which wines you like is trial and error. Now that you have some background on which wine varieties you could enjoy, you should find yourself having a little less error and more time for trialing. The fun part.
First things first, don’t pick a wine based on the price. For example, a $40 bottle isn’t always better than a $20 bottle especially if you’re looking for something more casual. To each their own, but depending on the occasion you can find some surprisingly great wines around $25 or even less. You could also find great wines at $60-80 a bottle etc. – just shop based on your means!
Casual wine drinking price point recommendation: If you’re wanting a wine to enjoy casually at home, after work, or just on a day off, you want to spend between $12- 25 a bottle – you’ll get a good quality wine at this price point. For white wines like $12-20 is a great price and red wines $18-25 is solid.
Read the back of the label to get ideas about the wine’s flavor, body and potential pairings. That is all.
Don’t pass on screw top wines. They are especially friendly towards younger white wines and lighter red wines.
Download the Vivino app and read hundreds of reviews to get further insight. Lastly, when in doubt get a few options, wine is supposed to be fun and not every wine is the same for a reason.