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SUGGESTIONS FOR A NOVICE WINE DRINKER???

I am a wine "weenie" and just started to drink it. I normally did enjoy the very sweet wines- Muscadines, Mogen David, etc. After all, I was raised on grandpa's home-made burgundy wine and 7-Up spritzers from childhood. After a recent trip to San Francisco and a wonderful trip to V. Sattui Winery, I was able to move to sweet Rieslings. They have a Gamay Rouge that was to die for also, but you can only get it through them. I was so disappointed. It costs so much to order a case plus shipping, so I've not had their wines since our trip.

I am trying to finesse out of the sweet whites. I know I don't like the bitterness of tannins (at least I think it's the tannins that taste bitter) and the reds have more of that bitter taste to me. Also, the dryer they are, the more bitterness I taste. At least that's what I think I am tasting that I don't like. I tried Yellow Tail Shiraz that was suggested here, but didn't like that either. Last night, I had Duca Stella Rosa that is an Italian red sparkling wine that I loved. of course, it was only 8% alcohol and didn't have that bitter taste.

I have to admit that the less alcohol content the wine has, the better I like it and the less bitter it tastes. In fact, the expert at Sattui was playing with me when he was trying to find a sweet and bitter less wine I enjoyed. When he finally brought one I enjoyed the best and became very excited about it, it turned out to be straight fruit juice! So, that's the type of drinker I am coming from, and I am 55 years old.

So, my question is after I disclosed all this embarrassing information about being a wine weenie, can anyone suggest wines more leaning toward the reds that I can finesse to? I did see the Zinfandel suggestions above and I will try those. Any other suggestions, based on what I said about the bitterness taste? I know it's not the fruitiness i am looking for because I tasted very fruity reds that were very dry and bitter that I did not like.

Please help a weenie!

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  1. Did you copy and paste this verbatim from Snooth or something? There aren't any "Zinfandel suggestions above".

    1. I'm guessing the bitterness you're talking about is tannins. Your palate may be overly sensitive to tannins.
      I would suggest looking for unoaked wines, since oak adds tannins to wine. Italian wines are often made in big cement vats. Di Majo Norante is a widely available sangiovese and it's cheap, too. Try that.
      Also, wines from the Almansa region of Spain are made without oak. Higueruela is one producer from that region I've tried and liked.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SteveTimko

        Definitely agree with everything Steve wrote. That's great that you discovered riesling already; there are absolutely world-class German rieslings at 8% alcohol or less that don't see oak, and that are available at very reasonable prices. Chablis also might work for you a lot better than California chardonnay or other white Burgundy, since it doesn't see oak.

        It might be hard to find, but there's a Jura grape called Poulsard (sometimes spelled Plousard) that tastes a lot like pinot noir without tannin. Beaujolais also might work, where you get a sense of sweetness, but a a lighter wine without astringency. And conveniently, the 09s are hitting the market soon and are reputed to be outstanding.

        1. re: SteveTimko

          Thank you Steve. That is very helpful. I will let you know once I try them.

        2. It is not going to be easy to find sweet reds outside of the dessert realm. You might try Grenache. Also tannins are more prevalent in young wines so you should find something that has aged well, unfortunately this would also mean that cheap wines are probably not going to be to your liking. I would recommend avoiding cabernet, pinot noir, and zinfandel since they are typically tannic. You might try a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre) it is typically a pretty mellow blend. Try finding a small wine shop in your area and ask for some recommendations there. If you want to become a true "wino" you will need to taste a lot of wine and may learn to appreciate the tannins at some point.

          You also could focus on whites and become a white wine snob, try Reisling and Viognier both are dry wines that can impart some sweetness. I would recommend staying away from chardonnay initially, they can be as harsh as reds sometimes.

          In addition try drinking your wine with food, this can enhance both the flavor of the wine and the food and can mellow tannins if pair appropriately. An example would be don't pair a tannic wine with spicy food. Tannic wines should have some fat in the food to balance the tannins and acidity.

          I hope this helps.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pairswellwithwine

            Thank you a lot for this. It does help. Though, many of the Rieslings I drink are all very sweet.

          2. You might want to try a lambrusco--it will be slightly sweet, with some fizz, and may be a nice transition wine for you (I'm referring to the better quality type that's now available--best to ask in a well stocked wine store.) Two other Italian wines that may work for you are grignolino and freisa--both are lighter bodied, with good fruit flavors and no tannin.

            1 Reply
            1. re: penthouse pup

              I will definitely try them. Thank you!

            2. If you want to build up a useful body of knowledge, be sure to take copious consistent notes.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tripeler

                I've already missed a lot from not taking enough notes!!!