Tag Archives: cabernet

On starter wines, or how to go about learning about wine (if that’s what you want to do)

Wine is like art or food or fashion: you can devote a lot of your time and attention to it and you will get a lot from it. Like many topics, though, not everyone wants to do that. Some people just want to know the basics and leave it there. Both approaches are valid.

If you do want to learn more about wine, one thing to do is pick a starter wine. A starter wine should be one that you can afford and that’s easy to drink and ideally goes well with the food you like to eat. Of course it should also be fairly well made and worth drinking for more than just the fact it contains alcohol. 🙂

If you want to pick a starter wine, I recommend two things: one, this list from Food and Wine to get going: 50 Affordable Wines You Can Always Trust. Two, this book, Wine Simple, by Aldo Sohm, the sommelier at Le Bernardin in NYC.

Both the wine list and the book will get you get started on the path to drinking better wine. For example, let’s say you try some of the listed cabernet sauvignons and  you prefer the first one: the Beringer. That’s a good start. From there you might try more expensive Cabernets from Beringer to see if you can determine what distinguishes them from each other. Maybe you find you prefer one more expensive (or maybe you can’t tell the difference in taste). Or you can compare it to other cab sauvs on the list, like the Penfolds. Perhaps the Californian wine goes better with the food you like and has a taste that you like. While you are considering the wines you try, dip into the book. The book will give you more insight into the wines you are drinking and why you might like it and what types of wine you want to try next.

Wine is something enjoyable, and something you can learn much about. That said, you should enjoy it at the level you want. Just like some people just want to wear jeans and T shirts all the time, other people just want to drink the same thing all the time. And that’s ok. But if you want to learn more about wine, pick a starter wine you are comfortable with and enjoy them and then go from there.

Cheers!

P.S. One thing I like about the list of 50 wines is that they are very easy to find. Most of them can be found all across Canada and certainly in the LCBO.

Also, Food & Wine has a list of affordable whites. Some people have problems with red wine due to tannins (though there are low tannic reds). If that is you, that list is a keeper.

P.S.S. I’ve been meaning to write this after reading this critique of starter wines that I read some time now: The Myth of So-Called “Starter Wine”. It’s written by someone knowledgeable and passionate about wine. I respect that. I don’t agree with it, but I respect it. I recommend you read it and think for yourself.