The First Sip: A Basic Guide to Wines for the Aspiring Connoisseur

The world of fine dining and sophisticated social circles would never be complete without wine. Wine is an ever-abundant drink that a lot of people enjoy all over the world. Truthfully, a lot of people don’t know the basics to wines and often make mistakes when trying them out.

For beginners, the world of wine can be confusing as there are thousands of bottles readily available for tasting. Expert wine tasters often have trained palates that can easily spot a type of wine. Some legendary tasters can even guess when, how, and where the wine was made.

The power of wine is fantastic and can bewilder untrained tastes. Due to most people backing out when tasting wine for the first time, they fail to understand that wine is delicious. No other alcoholic drink will come close to what wine provides. For one, a small sip of the right type of wine can make an ordinary meal taste extravagant. Here are some tips for aspiring beginners who want to delve deeper into wines:

Knowing the Difference between Red and White Wine

Telling the difference between red and white wine is more than just the color and taste. This “simplicity” is what most people perceive as the defining traits of these wines. However, there’s just a lot more than those two characteristics.

But do you know how these wines got their tastes and colors? A quality red or white wine gets almost everything from tannins. Tannins are found in many plants and are a natural substance. The tannins from wines come from the skin of the grapes. The darker the surface of the grape, the more tannins it has. The taste of tannin is usually bitter.

When a winemaker allows the grape skins to sit with the juices, the tannin seeps into the juice where both ferment. This process is how the wine turns red. White wine, on the other hand, still has tannins in it but is not enough to cause discoloration, which is why it retains its crystal-like liquid color.

More about Tannins

Tannins are mostly the building blocks of excellent red wine. Experienced testers will talk about red wine’s taste as bitter, leathery, or fine. When they say that a glass of wine feels chewy, soft, rough, or smooth, then it pertains to the texture of the wine. In red wines, the tannin is the star of the wine; the darker the wine, the more tannins it has, the bolder the taste the wine has.

As mentioned earlier, white wine still has tannins, which still affect taste and color. However, when it comes to the star, it’s the acidity that shines a lot when it comes to sipping white wine. White wine can be crisp or tart. If white wine doesn’t have enough acidity, then it’s usually called flat.

Characteristics that you should look at

Now that you have a basic know-how of how wines get to the way they are, it’s time to take a look at what you should look for while sipping wine.

  • Body: The body means the “weight” and thickness of the wine itself. A dense or full-bodied wine is thick and covers the sides of the bottle when swirled. A light-bodied wine is fine, almost like water and is translucent. Medium-bodied share similarities with both light and full-bodied wines.
  • Tannin: A must for red wine drinkers. The lower the tannin content, the smoother and softer the wine is.
  • Acidity: A must for white wine drinkers. If done in excess, white wine can turn sour. If done with less acidity, the wine turns fat.
  • Sweetness: Both wines have a level of sweetness to them. If a wine tastes bitter(depending on the preferences of the drinker), then that wine is dry.
  • Flavors: Always stick to the most common flavors, which are: Flowery, smoky, spicy, fruity, or earthy.

Choosing wines for starters

For starters, it’s best to start with wines that are in between the $10-15 mark. Wines at these prices basically represent their variety or region. Whether it’s French, Italian, Australian Wines, or any other wine, always check the labels for starters. Here’s a list of well-known wines for each wine type:

Red Wines

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pinot Noir
  • Zinfandel
  • Merlot
  • Shiraz

White Wines

  • Riesling
  • Moscato
  • Chardonnay
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Pinot Blanc

Food Pairing

If you’re still a beginner, don’t push yourself too hard when it comes to pairing food and wine. The basic notion is that red meats go well with red wine, and fish and other white meats match white wine. Since you’re a beginner, it’s better to not favoring any pairings. It’s best that you find out for yourself. At the end of the day, it’s your tastes and preferences that will matter the most.


The world of wine tasting is fantastic. Admit it, most of us try to avoid getting to know wine because some feel intimidated by it. For one, tannins, acidity, weight, flat, rough, sweet, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, Zinfandel, etc. are very fancy terms that most of us don’t hear daily.

With this guide, you now have a basic look at what makes a wine red or white. You know why it tastes as such. Don’t get intimidated by fancy testers, although they are skilled to tell you on what and what not to do, it’s still your personal flair and preferences that will matter.

Author Bio


Scarlett Wells is a freelance writer and wine enthusiast. She is an active critique examining all levels of wine types so she can produce reviews and articles that will help guide every consumer in selecting the right kind of wine to drink. Aside from that, she wrote a lot of blogs maximizing the real usage of wines. In her free time, she reads a lot about food and beverage pairing in order to help her become an effective mentor inspiring everyone to maintain a fit and fab lifestyle.