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Jan 8, 2007 05:30 PM

Love red wine...can't understand the subtle differences to expand horizons - help!

Hello all,
I am a red wine drinker, quite often nightly I sit myself down with a good glass or two. But I'm finding when I try to expand into other geographical areas or grape types, sometimes I am not pleased.

I've had success with Shiraz, Syrahs and merlots.. but find some of the wines to be a bit blunt. If one was to like these wines...tell me which direction to go.

FYI: I do not usually like white wines, too sweet, dry and buttery at times...


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  1. I'm not sure what "success with Shiraz, Syrahs and merlots" means. Does that mean you've had wines from thes egrape varieties that you've enjoyed? (Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, BTW.)

    First, usual disclaimers:

    a) It's always good to remember that your taste is yours; mine is mine. Just because I (or others) may recommend some specific wines is no guarantee that you will like them. This is no less true of the "famous" people who write in newspapers, magazines and subscription-only newsletters, than it is for the people who post here.

    b) It's always good to know where you live, as there's no use recommending a particular wine to you if it's not available where you live.

    OK, I'm presuming you didn't like the wines which came across to you as "blunt," but I'm not sure what that means. Do you prefer wines with more fruit flavors, less spice? Do you prefer wines with less tannins, that rough, astringent feeling on the inside of your cheeks and gums? (Is that what you mean by "blunt"?)

    Give me some specific names -- if you remember -- of wines you have liked AND disliked in the past. Specific recommendations will follow.

    1. My best advice is to find an "entry-level" wine tasting course, or a shop nearby that offers a few wines for tasting at a time.

      There's no substitute for trying a few different things to see what you like!

      General advice aside, I always recommend Beaujolais to new wine drinkers. It's moderately priced and friendlier to the inexperienced palate.


      1. Try Andrea Immer's book "Great Wine Made Simple". She breaks down the varietal characteristics of the "Big Six" wine grapes, and tells you what to expect, etc. She mentions specific wineries and wines. Happy tasting!

        1 Reply
        1. re: jgholmes

          An enthusiastic second for this book, plus I wanted to point out that if you're looking for it in a bookstore, the updated edition is under the name of Andrea Immer Robinson.

        2. wrt Red Wines, definitely add Zinfandel to your list, cabernet sauvignon, tempranillo, and pinot noir... those 4 wines will expand your red wine horizons quite alot and you can find reasonably priced bottles in all these varietals.

          At the risk of the inevitable criticism, I highly recommend you focus on the better vintage years AND taste these wines side-by-side so you can distinguish the flavors.

          1. You're good to even want to expand your wine horizons--that's the first step! I'd check out a good wine site on line that explains varietal characteristics and flavors, like

            That will help you to find varietals that seem to resonate with your sense of what syrah/shiraz taste like.

            Then, I'd agree that tempranillo and pinot noir might be to your liking, and I would also try cote du Rhone blends and also gamay wines which are very good value and from the Beaujolais.

            Good luck!

            3 Replies
            1. re: Dr. Debs

              I have never heard of a Tempranillo?!? Could you please educate me? Although I am not (yet) a wine eficinada, I do like trying different wines and varieties. I prefer reds-ie: Gamay Beaujolas, Shiraz, Malbecs, Cabs, Zins and late harvest Zins. But, some whites I enjoy as well. If there are a few Tempranillos you could recommend, I'd appreciate it. Plus, is it similar to any reds I just mentioned? Anyone, feel free to elaborate b/c I am still learning, and probably will do so for a lifetime! ;-) (Perhaps you can recommend several in various price ranges???) Thanks! O=:)