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Apr 9, 2007 06:02 AM

Wine for Virgins

HI am not *technically* a wine virgin. However, I am TRYING (trying being the operative word) to like and possibly even LOVE wine. However, I still have not "acquired a taste" as they say. I am going to Paris in October for my honeymoon and need help! I did manage to gulp down a glass of Beaujolais recently...and riesling's aren't too horrible. Who can help me!?

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  1. What is it you like about wine? What is it you don't like? And is "gulp" literal, or just an expression? Answers to these questions will help me (at least) to suggest some wines for you to try.

    Also, where do you live?

    Depending upon the era, Americans tended to "cut their teeth" on "pop" wines like Boone's Farm and Annie Green Springs (let's forget about these), wine coolers like Bartles & Jaymes (let's forget these, too), as well as wines like White Zinfandels like Sutter Home and Beringer, and semi-generic wines like Almadén Mountain White Chablis and Gallo Rhine Wine. These all have some degree of sweetness, and in a "soda pop society," helped many people make the transition. That said, I am NOT suggesting you run out and buy a bunch of Whtie Zinfandel, though I am curious what wines -- besides Beaujolais and Riesling you have tried.

    11 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Thanks so much for both your inquiries and your advice! I like the sweetness and sometimes the body of wine. I do not like the immediate aftertaste or the bitterness. I am by no means (as you can tell) a wine connesieur . "Gulp" was not took me about 30 min to slowly sip my first full glass which was a beaujolais. I also had an australian merlot once that I enjoyed. Other than that, the riesling is really the only other kind I can tolerate thus far. Usually, if I don't like the smell at all, I won't drink the wine. It usually tastes exactly as it smells--in my opinion. I live in a suburb of detroit, mi and I do not drink much alcohol at all. I only like white beer...and other fruity or "girlie" drinks. Hope this helps and thanks again!!

      1. re: FOTOgrlNic

        There's a Trader Joe's in Detroit, right? They have a very inexpensive Viognier called 'Honeymoon Viognier' that has some very nice peach undertones. It does not have the sharpness of many wines, and might be a good start for you.

        1. re: mojoeater

          I did try the viogner from Trader Joe's...the Honeymoon wine. It was very nice. I also tried a seurat which I thought was OK. The honeymoon was very good...and very affordable ($5.99). Is it pronounced Vee-oh-nay? Thanks for all the advice!

          1. re: FOTOgrlNic

            Very close - vee-oh-NAYAY. Just a little curled tongue to the forward part of the roof of the mouth. It is also called "Vionnier," in some geographic circles.


        2. re: FOTOgrlNic

          OK, for the moment . . .

          I would avoid reds and sparkling wines -- most of which are dry (the opposite of sweet). I'd also avoid fortified wines, due to the increased alcohol. Stick to whites *first*. Try some California off-dry (and that's the key: "off-dry") Chenin Blancs and White Rieslings. Viognier is also a good idea, as mojoeater suggests; so, too, is Symphony.

          Look for the basics: Rieslings from wineries like Kendall-Jackson, J.Lohr, Beringer, Fetzer; Chenin Blancs from Pine Ridge Bogle, Beringer, Fetzer; Symphony from Ironstone; etc., etc. Then come back and post what you think . . .

        3. re: zin1953

          Wow, you are closer to being a "contemoporary" of mine, than I thought. "Annie Green Springs," eh? I used to purchase it, because I found that Boone's Farm was too acidic! Then, one day, I moved up to Mateus and Lancers. Finally, I had a nice Pomerol, with a few years on it, and the rest, as they say, is history!

          Thanks for the trip down "memory lane."


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Hey, I still remember the Stiller & Meara commercials for Blue Nun that propelled that wine into becomming the #1 imported wine in the U.S. Lancer's, Mateus and Nectarosé also held that position, as did -- eventually -- Riunite Lambrusco. ;^)

            1. re: zin1953

              Did Stiller scream "BLUE NUN , I SAID !!!!!" like his characters on Seinfeld and King of Queens ?

                1. re: zin1953

                  Pure comic genius. Hate to see K of Q signoff this year.

                  1. re: TonyO

                    IIRC, Ann Meara would ask why the nun was blue, and if she was chilled, shouldn't they give her a chair by the fire . . . Jerry Stiller would say Blue Nun was supposed be be chilled, and Meara would ask if that was any way to treat a spiritual being . . . .

        4. It would also help to learn the lingo. Go to your local wine shop and do a tasting. Describe what you're tasting and ask them what's the best way to describe it (oaky, floral, berry, etc.). That way, when you hit Paris, you will be able to ask for what you like.

          3 Replies
          1. re: mojoeater

            Thanks so much to all of you! Trader Joe's has always been my "go-to" place for wine (amongst other things). I will be sure ot try the Viogner...How is that pronounced? Vee-Og-Ner?

            1. re: FOTOgrlNic

              I guess Vee-O-Nyay (slightly pronouncing the G)

            2. re: mojoeater

              I think mojoeater makes an excellent point re: wine tastings. Many wine shops offer free wine tastings every month or so and you aren't likely to pay more than $25 at most wine shops. Being able to try a number of different wines side by side should give you a good idea of what you like without breaking the bank. Try

            3. Songo Uno:

              Or maybe that isn't what you had in mind :-p

              1. Honeymoon in Paris? Wow, enjoy! Now, you’ve gotten some good suggestions on wines and on pathways to learning wine, before your trip. You have stated that you have tried Beaujolais and like it. That is about where I’d stop with the reds for now. If you go with the Bj-Villages wines, you will experience light, fruity and pleasant wines. Their acid will work with a lot of food and their tannins (think bitterness here) are almost non-existent. There are several “flavors” of Beaujolais, and I’d stay close to the Villages level (maybe try a 1er Cru just for an example) for now.

                For FR whites for “wine virgins,” I first think of the Chenin Blanc grape. For this grape, there are few areas equal to the Loire. Chenin is produced into wines that run a rather large gamut. You can find full-bodied, age-worthy wines, to light quaffers. There are dessert Chenins and almost everything in between. For drinking and most food pairings, I’d ask for something “off-dry.” There will be a bit of residual sugar (RS) in these, but that should be OK.

                A bit farther north, in Burgundy, Chardonnay is king. While most US Chardonnay is hard-pressed to fit with a lot of food, the Chards of FR are suited for it. A good place to start is Montrachet (Pugliny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet and Montrachet). It’s a medium-full-bodied wine, with good acid (for food) and is also very nice on its own. Meursault is also a good region for Chardonnay, but I find these to be a bit higher in acid (great with seafood and other dishes), but maybe a bit too tart for one starting out. One note: do not drink any of these Chards too cold. Let them warm up a bit and spend some time with the glass (a larger one, preferably) close to your nose.

                Another white wine grape, Viognier, is grown in the Northern Rhône, and sees its ultimate in the wines of Condrieu. However, these are quite expensive and, while I love the grape and the wines, might not be quite something that you are likely to really enjoy. OTOH, were I there, I could not resist.

                Most of all, enjoy!

                2 Replies
                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  That's an excellent description-, Bill. I have one other piece of advice for you- try a French riesling (normally they come from Alsace, but I've seen them from other Northern regions as well). These aren't as sweet as the German or Californian types, but are still light and fruity (think pear and peach) - and you're still getting the experience of trying the different flavors that France has to offer.

                  It's important to remember that wine is like poetry: you don't have to like all of it, just perhaps some of it. If you find that you're not really into the "wine" scene- there are multitudes of other french delicacies that you could become an "expert" in!

                  Congrats and enjoy!

                  1. re: jazzy77

                    Thank you all soooo very much! I REALLY appreciate all the knowledge and will use it ASAP! :)


                2. Lots of good advice here. It would be helpful to get a *good* and *thin* wine book that orients you and explains some basics competently. Tasting is (as mathematicians say) necessary but insufficient.

                  The best THIN general introductory wine book I know of for North American readers appeared in the 1960s, have a stack of copies and lend them out sometimes, but it is badly out of date. Recently a couple of senior wine writers have made efforts at the same thing (one of these people passed both the MS and MW exams, an accomplishment) but I haven't checked the books personally and don't recall details.

                  The number of existing wine books that *don't* serve this need is legion.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: eatzalot

                    I know for my husband, who couldn't drink wine to save his life, actually really enjoys Pinot Grigio. Might be worth a try to ease yourself into other "harder" wines.

                    1. re: ekeeney

                      Here is a light approachable red wine: 2005 Brachetto from Anthos in Italy. Easy drinking red that goes nicely with food. I do not know how widely this is available but there may be similar options out there.

                    2. re: eatzalot

                      Best book for learning the basics is Andrea Immer's (now Robinson) Great Wine Made Simple. It's a hands-on course to wine, starting with the major varietals and then branching out to the Old World/New World. I cannot reccomend it more highly.


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Thanks Hunt and I think that was one of the recent books I'd seen. Immer is a very active and respected wine educator.

                        Three older books in English of classic, even "cult" status are not good for current style info, but their geography and history information, and insights about wine and people, have not aged. Each by a writer or journalist who also was a serious wine enthusiast and wrote late in life after 50-plus years wine experience. Going backward in time, they're Yoxall's book (limited to Cote d'Or region), Blake Ozias's that I mentioned above, and the original popular handbook for wine consumers, Saintsbury's "Notes on a Cellar-Book," 1920, still in print via many editions.

                        1. re: eatzalot

                          Some of the older tomes still "have it." I found a copy of the Signet Pocketbook of Wine (do not have the author handy), that we must have had since marriage in early '70s (did not recall ever reading it). I kinda' laughed, but sat down with it. Great little read and still about 90% relevant to wine, in general. Now, that's the test of time in such a volitile market as wine.

                          Heck, I can do a grand trek of Napa in the Winter, and then talk to friends in the Summer, and they mention a half-dozen wineries, that I have never heard of, within a 5mi. radius, of where I was!


                          1. re: eatzalot

                            Yoxall's book is great. And George Saintsbury's is, of course, a classic!